The importance of color-coordinated bookcases

I was on a roll. The words were hurtling off my fingertips onto my laptop screen like so many tennis balls sputtering out of a launching machine gone haywire.

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

As I hammered away on my writing project, the organizer of my writers’ critique group texted (we’ll call her Beth): “Well ladies, since we’re experiencing a bit of a snowpocalypse I’m eager to hear your thoughts on if we should move the meeting to next week … or build snowmen together.”

The general consensus of the group was to reschedule.

Beth: “Being snowed in leaves us without excuse not to write, lol.” Which elicited several remarks.

* Cara: “I’ve thought about writing a LOT. So, I rearranged my office to make it more comfortable and productive. I shoveled the driveway just in case I needed more writing tools and I worked through my emails so I won’t be distracted when I sit down to write. That reminds me, I need to double check the settings on my office chair to make certain I can maximize my time at the computer …”

Susan: “Fixing a hot cocoa now. The cabinet with the cocoa needs organizing.”

Jennifer: “I cleaned my refrigerator and shoveled a path through an acre of snow. Woo hoo! Need a nap. Maybe a cocoa first.”

Rita: “We are trying to take our stupid Christmas tree apart … Next year we are going back to the woods. $5. So I can settle down and write.”

As I shredded away on my writing, each text brought a smile to my lips.

And then, remembering that Dan and I couldn’t find a specific book he wanted to read, I got up to look once again in the bookcase.

I started removing books and found the missing one right away. But since an entire shelf of books was setting on the nearby desk, I continued until there were piles on the couch and end table.

And then I color coordinated the books and arranged them back in the bookcase.

Photo: Marlys

I have no explanation for this random diversion … except to say that my writerly sisters may have inadvertently influenced me, like so many subliminal advertisements.

When it comes to their craft, writers tend to find numerous reasons to put it off. This from Robert Benson’s book, Dancing on the Head of a Pen:

“I once spent a whole year pretending to write a book. … I would wave to [my wife] as she pulled out of the driveway, then go back into the house and stand in the hall outside the little room where I was supposed to be writing. If I stood there long enough, I could think of some chores to be done around the house before I started to write.  … We had the most highly polished silver in town that year. … We also had ironed linens for all occasions … fresh shelf paper every few weeks, and all our books could be found neatly arranged in alphabetical order by author …”

I suspect this tendency to find excuses when we’re settling into a rather large endeavor is inherent in many of us, not just the writers.

If this is you, try this 3-step challenge:

1. Determine your purpose. What has God lit a flame within your soul to do for this season of life? Go back to school to earn your master’s? Plan a cross-country road trip with outreach to fellow motorcyclists? Write a book? Quit your job to work at the non-profit that pays less but lights you up?

2. Draft a list of first steps. Writing down action items for reaching our goals is important, because it helps us see clearly what needs to happen to get us to where we want to go.

For example, if you’ve always had a passion to build orphanages or schools south of the border, but you aren’t able to quit your job and go full-time just yet, then meanwhile, one of your steps might be to sign up for a Spanish class.

3. Take the plunge. What are you waiting for? You know what God is calling you to do. Your family and friends are cheering you on. You’ve completed all the steps that need to happen before you actually board the plane.

Go ahead. Board the plane that will hurtle you toward fostering or adopting children, that will hurtle you toward starting the business, toward supporting the work that is being done to rescue women and children from human trafficking in your area.

Meanwhile, I have some of the best color-coordinated bookcases in town.

Photo: Marlys

* Names have been changed to protect the guilty.


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  1. Allison

    Thank you for the encouragement! Also, I hadn’t thought about color coordinating the bookshelves. I will do that today BEFORE I start writing my blog post. I’m confident it will provide inspiration. ????

  2. Al Huntley

    What happened to the Dewey Decimal System?

  3. Cheryl

    Great post for the new year. Interesting Marlys about color coordinating books, I never thought about that before. That could fit in with my obsessive tendency for orderliness and need for symmetry! As always thank you for your words!

  4. Janine

    Ok. I’m going to ask. What are the books on the desk that are backwards? I’ve nearly picked them up, but resisted telling my nosey self maybe they are books you wrote and they are in time out; maybe they are books of the wrong color and don’t fit in the fancy shelves; maybe you and Dan have a bet to see whose friends look and whose friends don’t. I give up. What is it? In the meantime, you blog and procrastinate at the same time. Good job! You have mastered a skill I can only admire and stand in awe 🙂 XO

    • In time out! Hahahaha … that’s hilarious, Janine! The backwards books are wonderful older tomes. I wanted to show off the stains and yellowed pages. And thank you for your fine comment about being able to blog and procrastinate at the same time. No one’s ever complimented me with those exact words. 🙂

  5. Good to read your newsletter again. I color coordinate my clothes closet.

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