We’ve all been there. You’re on a website, they tell you to subscribe for more perks and features, you enter in your email address, and life goes on. I’ve been doing this for years. Newsletters, author websites, online stores. They have emails for everything these days. And it’s a good thing, too. Can you imagine if this information overload came in the old fashioned way?
Sheesh. Save a tree. Save the world.
I was alerted recently, yet again, that my email storage was almost full. I began with the Spam and Trash folders, of course, and foolishly believed emptying those out would be enough and I could return to my day, as super engaging and adventurous as it had been (Thanks, 2020. Not.). Alas, that was not to be. So, I went in and did my cursory scan of the various subfolders I’d created over the years, and commenced the purge.
Egads! I couldn’t believe just how much clutter had filled up my digital corner of the world. I didn’t know which was worse, how much email I had amassed and never deleted, how many places I subscribed to just to save a few bucks here and there, or the fact that the majority of the emails hadn’t even been opened yet.
When I think of the potentially important email I must’ve saved for reference back in 2012, I have to Marie Kondo myself and ask, does it bring me joy? I mean, I know I haven’t thought of it in years, so what gives? Well, I’ll tell you what doesn’t bring me joy, having to sift through a digital junkyard while thinking about my life choices.
So, what, pray tell, does this have to do with my writing life? Plenty. As plentiful as the emails that have been stuffed into my email account–by my own doing. I decided to finally open some of the pertinent ones, especially anything to do with writing tips, author information, and writing associations. What I realized–and this might be what can get me promoted higher than Captain Obvious–was that I’d been missing out on a treasure trove of resources that had been right there all along.
When I renewed my memberships to the my writing organizations, I took special care to read up on their newsletters, truly absorb the information and in just a matter of days, expanded my world after such a big face palm of wasted opportunities. With resources literally at my fingertips, I’ve been able to explore new writing competitions and submission calls, that, if I really had the drive for, I could’ve already been slaying since last year.
I totally get that life happens and there are circumstances beyond our control, but now that I’m back in the driver’s seat, it really feels good to see and appreciate what’s out there. I had a story idea and needed some input about the plausibility of a scenario. I asked the question across a few writing groups I was in and received dozens of replies within an hour. It didn’t matter where they were in the world, the writing tribe answered my call. It was so gratifying.
So, the purge continued. The many competitions and submission calls that had long since passed, I binned. I kept articles and links to invaluable writing tips and tricks. Anything older than my recollection of ever subscribing to them, I just deleted en masse.
I extended this decluttering to my web browser. It should come to no surprise that I have multiple tabs open at all times. It’s a physical manifestation of the frenzied activity that goes on in my cranium. I decided to streamline my viewing experience and create bookmark folders for easier reference. I’d had enough of the digital hoarding that I had thinly veiled as “research” and decided to take a more tactical approach with a cleaner canvas upon which to create, well, anything. It’s absolutely freeing and I know the concept is so simple. It’s mind boggling how easily I had boggled my mind over this. Go figure.
Yesterday, I’d discovered I’d missed a Flash Fiction prompt challenge that had started at the top of the month. Rather than overwhelming myself to catch up, I’ve decided to do this challenge for the month of March. There’s no need to go for gold in the Masochism Olympics when I’ve already got a full plate with the impact x SKYDANCE submissions, as well as my WIPs that have been restless, dying to be heard.
From now on, I’m going to be more mindful before I click subscribe. I need to be more active in how I consume my infotainment. After all, when people take the time to create content, we need to show our appreciation for their efforts. I’m not going to register to join a webinar, only to miss it then not even watch the replay. Again with the obviousness, but I can learn so much at a click of a button. I have to ask myself why there are so many unread emails and files. I need to start reading the ones that matter and deleting the ones that don’t.
Decluttering an email account has done more wonders than I’d initially realized. The task of streamlining my consumption, is helping me also keep focused on my goals and utilizing the resources that can help me attain them. And that, my friends, definitely brings me joy.
Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.
Until next time,