Writing Assignment: The Writing Dumpster

by Randy Murray on December 30, 2011

Here is your final writing assignment of the year and the end of this round of writers’ workshop: clean up your writing life.

I typically recommend that everyone use the final business day of the calendar year as Dumpster Day. It’s an excellent way to clear away the clutter and prepare one’s self for a productive start to the new year. Declaring a Dumpster Day on any day that you know will not be productive is also a terrific idea.

Writers can do the same thing. Cleaning away the physical items is a great idea and you should do that. As a writer you should also review and clean up your writing life as well.

For today’s assignment collect and create a pile (physical or virtual) of all of your writing notes, journals, drafts and uncompleted works, and writing tools (dictionaries, The Elements of Style, perhaps Writing Assignments). Then make choices about what stays, what gets filed, and what goes in the dumpster.

You should review your journals and notes for writing ideas. When you find good ones, make a new list and transfer them to this fresh list. For the not so good or those ideas that aren’t ready, keep them in your files. Review your tools and place them where they’ll be available. Decide if you need any new ones. Remember, books never go in the dumpster. Give away books that you no longer personally want or need, but never throw them away!

Take the writing projects you’ve been working on and be ruthless. If a project is stalled, recognize that it is and file it away. If one needs work, put it in your working file and give it priority. If something has failed, dump it or route it to long term storage.

When you’re through you should have a refreshed view of your writing work. I find that when I review my journals I get excited about ideas that I’ve forgotten. You never know when a spark of an idea is now ready for you to fan it into something that will burn bright for you.

Let’s plan for a great writing year ahead!


Click here to view and complete previous writing assignments.

And buy a copy of the Writing Assignments book!

The Writing Assignment: The Writing Dumpster by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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