As previous blog posts attest, I relish a Netflix binge. And, last month, Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up was quite bingeable.
For those unacquainted, the show–based on Kondo’s bestselling book–helps clutter-prone Americans free themselves from unneeded possessions. The foundation of Kondo’s method is to keep only items that “spark joy.”
As a lover of decluttering, this “spark joy” business was music to my ears (though, by the end of the show, it was so oft-repeated, it sounded more like an earworm than a symphony). (Un)fortunately for me, I was teetering on the edge of minimalism after a big move and had almost nothing left to toss. Was I doomed to live vicariously through other people’s decluttering?
Then, I realized I could Kondo-ize my writing. Unnecessary words clutter even my most-revised work. And short-form pieces, like picture books, buckle under the weight. Could I trim my weigh to a better book? It was worth a shot.
At the top of the cut list: “that,” “just,” “so,” “but,” and “and.” Adverbs (heaven forbid). Dependent phrases.
I tried to get back to basics: subject-(zesty) verb-object.
Has it worked? Not entirely. I still love some word-clutter (source: this blog post). But, like the Americans on Kondo’s show, I’ve improved (but maybe still have a closet of figurines in the guest bedroom).
Still, when I revise, now I think about every word. Do I need it? Does it spark joy? Or, to borrow from Gandhi, does it improve upon the silence?