Minimalism is kind of the word of the moment. As a 6-year minimalist, I couldn’t be happier to see so many people joining in. But maybe you aren’t convinced minimalism is worth bothering with. Fun fact: minimalism can help you overcome Writer’s Block!
What is Minimalism?
There are 2 types of minimalism: environmental and mental.
- Environmental Minimalism: This is the “less is more” movement. It promotes living with fewer items and buying and keeping only what you truly need or love.
- Mental Minimalism: This is a rarer beast. It requires keeping the mind calm, focused, and clear of mental clutter. It’s the elimination, or, at least, minimizing, of what I call mind sinks.
Minimalism isn’t about giving away all your stuff, living in a bare-walled apartment, and using mason jars as both glassware and Tupperware.
(I actually do that with mason jars, but you don’t have to. You’re allowed both glasses and Tupperware if you want.)
“Minimalism isn’t about giving all your shit away. It’s about making room for what’s important.”
Instead, Minimalism is about freeing yourself from overwhelm. I always remember Biggie Smalls’ “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” when I try to explain Minimalism. There’s nothing wrong with either money or things, but at a certain threshold, our things stop helping us and start hurting us.
Mo’ Things, Mo’ Writing Problems.
So Minimalism is choosing to let go of things that aren’t helping us reach our goals, are holding us back from achieving what we truly want, or in the words of Marie Kondo, things that don’t “spark joy”.
But how can minimalism help with Writer’s Block?
By releasing your attachments to unnecessary and unwanted material possessions, you open your head and your heart up to enhanced creativity, reduce your stress and anxiety, eliminate time sinks during your day, and increase your mental and physical energy.
All of those things help you overcome Writer’s Block because they leave your mind free to think creatively.
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When you make the decision to transition your life to a more minimal one, what you’re really doing is choosing to create space for your real passions. You’re tired of feeling blah all the time. You’re tired of decision fatigue. You’re tired of not having a direction. You’re tired of not knowing where to start.
You’re tired of being tired.
Minimalism eliminates all of that. When you practice it—whatever version you find is right for your life—you find that 24 hours stretches a lot further. The less time you spend thinking about “stuff,” the more space you have to think about writing your novel.
Minimalism seriously reduces stress and anxiety. I know—I experienced it first hand.
How can you get started with minimalism and get rid of your Writer’s Block?
It depends on what you want to focus on first: your head space or your physical space. I vote for starting with your physical space because it gives you something concrete and tangible. The effect is much more immediate.
Starting with your Environment
Define your novel writing workspace.
Everyone needs a stress-free and inspiring place to write. Do you have one already? If not, then take the time to set one up.
If you do have one already, then clean it! Clear the junk from your desk drawers. Donate the extra notebooks you don’t need. Sell the tools you don’t use. Sort and recycle the papers you planned to sort through ‘some day’.
Don’t half-ass this. This is where your passion happens. Treat it like the shrine it should be.
Want some inspiration? Check out my Writer’s Life Office Inspo Pinterest board.
Pare down your closet.
Do you know how amazing it is to get up in the morning and have something that looks fantastic on you to wear?
How about when you’re still half-asleep as you’re getting dressed and can’t think well enough to coordinate…but still manage to look put-together?
How do you feel about having to do laundry half as often, or maybe even less?
An easy and fun way to reduce decision fatigue so that you can focus on your writing is to create a capsule wardrobe. You define a go-to ‘uniform’ for yourself you know looks great on you, and you wear it daily.
You don’t have to go Mark Zuckerberg deep with it; even simplifying down to “jeans + black shirt” helps because it eliminates the question, ‘What am I going to wear today?’
Get some focus. Create your opus.
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Set a standard for things you keep.
You may have family, friends, or in-laws who just like to load you up with stuff. It’s okay not to keep it. Really. There’s no need to feel guilty over letting something you don’t need or want go.
I recently said goodbye to some perfumes I’d kept from my grandmother’s things, and it wasn’t easy. But you know what? Now someone who collects vintage perfumes has cool additions to their collection, and they’re no longer sitting in a shoebox in my closet.
Sentimental stuff is hard to let go of. You may have to do it little by little—or you may prefer one quick sweep, like pulling off a band-aid. Either is fine. The only requirement is that you choose what you keep. Keep only things that meet your standard; not someone else’s.
Can’t let go? Box up things you don’t love or use and put them in the attic. The less clutter you have around, the clearer your mind is for writing.
Starting with your Head
Prioritize your passions and chores.
Your creative bucket list is probably a mile long. You want to get your novel published, write another novel, read all your unread books, start an Etsy shop for book quote t-shirts, redecorate your apartment, start a BookTube channel, blog, make more internet friends, and on and on and on.
You have 24 hours in your day, and you need 8 of them for sleeping, so you have to prioritize.
What’s most important?
If it’s writing your novel, then that needs to come first. By actively choosing writing as your priority, you are effectively shunting other stuff from your mind. This is a good way to use mental minimalism to help you overcome Writer’s Block.
Sometimes, the easiest way to prevent Writer’s Block is just saying no to requests that disrupt your creative process, and therefore cause Writer’s Block.
You’re overwhelmed, but you’re probably also fairly good at not letting on that you are, and people may come to you and ask for favors that you just can’t commit to and still stay in a healthy mental place.
How many spoons have you got? It’s okay to save them for writing, if that’s your priority.
You don’t have to apologize or feel guilty. You can offer to reconsider in the future, but you don’t have to. Take this time to get yourself straight, and if you find you can take on more later, then you’re free to do so… or not do so! But in the meantime, don’t let overcommitment give you Writer’s Block.
How do you know if minimalism will help get rid of your Writer’s Block?
You know those Swiffer commercials? That floor is super nasty, but with just one pass down the middle with a Swiffer, there’s a sparkling path? Creativity is just like that.
When the floor’s dirty, you can’t see the brilliant ideas underneath it. Writer’s Block abounds.
When the floor’s clean, that linoleum is nothing but great ideas and good writing!
Did I take this analogy too far?
With each pass of the Swiffer of Minimalism, more of your mind clears up. Soon enough, you’re left with a sparkling, productive mind, full of ideas, great sentences, character development, and NO Writer’s Block.
Will you try minimalism to overcome Writer’s Block?
What is the one thing that’s most contributing to your Writer’s Block and what 1 tiny step will you take to overcome your Writer’s Block?
Tell me — I’d love to know!
If you’re having trouble getting started, hitting a roadblock, or just want some feedback, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you. I want to see you succeed with this because Writers Block is the absolute worst and you don’t deserve it.