I sit down to write. I know it’s writing time. My calendar says so. So what’s the first thing I do?

I clean my desk. I empty out my inbox. I shuffle the papers in my folio. I clean my screen. I almost balance my checkbook when I realize, I’m not actually writing.

Like Nesting for Writers

It’s getting everything out of the way. It’s doing something with my hands as I prepare myself for making the clackity noise.

I’ve learned that my job is to just sit down and start making the clackity noise. If I make the clackity noise long enough every day, the “writing” seems to take care of itself. On the other hand, if there’s no clackity noise, no writing. No little stories. The stories may be in there, alongside God knows what else, but there’s no way to know. You must make the noise. –Merlin Mann on Making the Clackity Noise


So I clear, and then start making the clackity noise. And the writing takes care of itself. Boom. 500 words. Did some of them come from shuffling the papers? Any from the screen cleaning? Does the clackity noise need the clearing?


Next time I’m probably going to clear again. No, it’s not writing. It’s a warm-up. It’s the on ramp. It’s part of the creative process. Something to be honored, just like exploring or judging or defending the idea against the status quo. I just can’t let it go on too long. It might turn me from writer to a professional office clearer.

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