Simplicity in Life and in Writing: Decluttering , Reorganising and Keeping it Simple #mentalhealth #writing #tidymind #reading #clutter

Simplicity – word of the month for February

I’m a writer. I like words. Artists may say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a single word can say a lot too. So when I was thinking about my blog posts for 2023 and getting a bit bogged down with ideas, I decided to keep it simple. I would go for a one word theme for each month’s post. January’s one was Pause -hence no blog post last month as I took some time out to think through my writing plans and priorities.

And this month I’m sticking with the ‘keep it simple’ principle and February’s word is Simplicity.

Simplicity in my writing life

According to Wikipedia, the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in planning and design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. Keeping things simple is a great way of minimising stress. Getting rid of the mess, the stuff that no longer has any purpose, focussing in on what matters – all of theses things are beneficial to our quality of life in general and especially to our mental health. Now, I reckon I’m pretty good at keeping on top of any build up of clutter in my house. I regularly tidy out cupboards and drawers and donate/recycle/dispose of any items that are no longer earning their space – and whenever I do, I feel better for it. But I’m not so good at the decluttering thing when it comes to my writing.

The clutter

I’m currently writing a contemporary romance that I’m hoping will be the first in a series. I’ve never written a series before – not one where the 2 main characters will be different in each book – but the setting will remain the same. And I must admit for a while there I was finding it quite hard to get on with telling the story of book 1 without being distracted by possibilities for future books in the series. I had so many scrappy notes – on post-its, on random bits of paper, in notebooks …

I’m also trying to get better at marketing my novels. There is so much advice out there about how to do this, lots of courses, lots of experts and my head was spinning trying to decide what route to take in order to achieve worldwide acclaim (okay, maybe not worldwide acclaim but just maybe reaching more readers). And as with the series notes above, I was drowning in notes – whole folders of them – and for so many different avenues.

And thirdly, my workspace was, until a week ago, driving me nuts. The layout wasn’t working, the cupboard was full of yet more folders of stuff – stuff I hadn’t looked at in ages, stuff I couldn’t even remember was there.

The declutter

So I set about simplifying all three problem areas.

First up – the series plan:

I made a list of character names and personalities/lifestyles to go with them.

I listed various tropes – such as enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, forced proximity

I matched the listed characters to each other and to a trope

I chose which of those characters would get a mention in book 1 and any settings such as their workplace that might need to be mentioned in book 1 too  – such as the medical practice or primary school. I noted at which point in book 1 (if any) they would need to be mentioned.

Result – much less brain fluff when writing and an easy reference point at hand on my desk. Way cleared for progress.

Second – the marketing

I went through all the emails about marketing courses, the notes for the courses I’ve already taken, and looked at the strategies employed by authors who write similar novels to me.

I made a short list of priorities/preferences for developing the marketing of my books in future and made a plan for how to achieve that.

I got rid of the masses of stuff  – electronic and on paper that I’ll never get round to reading or doing.

Result – no more physical and mental clutter weighing me down and preventing any decision making. I now have a simple plan with three priorities for developing my knowledge and expertise in book marketing.

Third – the workspace

The photo above is of my newly sorted, reconfigured and much more simple writing room. I spent a day sorting through the cupboard and the desk drawers and then with the help of bigger and stronger other half completely changed the layout of the room. I even moved the pinboard and the pictures on the walls. And I’m loving this new, much more efficient, streamlined and simplified space.

And again, a cleared physical space also equals a cleared headspace.

So, as you can see, KISSING is working for this romance author. Here’s to simplicity!

Book of the Month

Still on the theme of simplicity – there are surely few, if any, more simple pleasures than reading. It’s certainly my go-to downtime activity and here on the blog I like to share my most recent favourite read. And for February’s post that book is:

 Queen of Grime by Helen Forbes. This is a first rate crime thriller set in Edinburgh. You can buy it HERE

From the back cover:

The Queen of Grime is about to pay. Big time.

Erin Flett is used to clearing up the sad debris of forgotten lives and tragic deaths. A crime and trauma scene cleaner from a deprived Edinburgh housing estate, she’s made a good life for herself and her daughter. But a secret from the past is about to catch up with her.

Ten years ago, Erin told a desperate lie with serious consequences. Now, someone else knows, and they’re determined to make Erin and her loved ones pay.

Following a terrifying late-night attack, the tension mounts until Erin doesn’t know who she can trust. As she struggles to keep her family safe, little does she realise just how close the danger is…

Queen of Grime is the first in a new series introducing Erin Flett, crime and trauma scene cleaner, and a rich cast of characters, set against the backdrop of the city of Edinburgh. With an occasional undertone of dark humour, it is a tale of family lies and family ties, friendships, secrets and loss.

And that’s it for this month. As always feel free to comment below, you could share your way of keeping things simple, or your own book of the month, or any other observations that occurred while you were reading this. Thank you for reading!


And don’t forget, if you want a more intimate round up of my current writing such as updates on the work-in-progress, sneak peeks at same, early notification of publication dates, giveaways and lots more do sign up for my author newsletter. And when you do you’ll receive a free book of some of my romantic stories as a thank you. Just click HERE and fill in your email address. 


My latest novel is contemporary romance Baby Steps.

Sparks fly in this love-against-the-odds romance

Estranged from her mother, cheated on by her ex and grieving the loss of her brother, emotionally distraught Sophie Campbell decides she needs to focus on her career as a researcher for a TV and radio broadcaster. What she doesn’t need is a man in her life. And as for marriage and children – definitely not.

Honourably discharged from the British army following life-changing injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan, Steven Jackson is rehabilitated and embracing life to the full. Working as the manager of a support centre for military veterans brings him a great sense of pride and achievement. But he wants more. He wants to meet the love of his life, and to one day be a husband and father.

When Sophie and Steven meet through work, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the two thirty-somethings. But will Steven’s open, caring and patient ways be enough to break down Sophie’s barriers and allow a relationship to develop between them?

Set in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Baby Steps is a contemporary romance which tells a story of love against the odds.

Baby Steps is a spin-off novel from Anne Stormont’s Skye Series of novels. Sophie is the daughter of Rachel one of the main characters in that series and features as a character in the supporting cast, as does Steven. However, Baby Steps can be read as a standalone.

Baby Steps is available as an ebook and as a paperback and you can buy it HERE

To find out more about all of my books just go to the BOOKS page HERE on the website