February 09, 2021

How Does Minimalism Apply to Writing? by Steph Beth Nickel


What is minimalism?

In the November 13, 2019, becoming minimalist blog post, Joshua Becker states, “… minimalism is intentionally living with only the things I really need—those items that support my purpose. I'm removing the distraction of excess possessions, so I can focus more on those things that matter most.”

I’m a long way from being a minimalist, but I can see myself moving in that direction.

Let’s discuss how minimalism applies to writing and writing-related pursuits.


There are SO MANY helpful writing and writing-related podcasts. Among my favourites are Writing at the Red House, The Write Now Podcast, and Creative If Writing.

I could list several others, but I have to limit the number I listen to each week or I could spend several hours a day listening to others talk about writing while doing no actual writing myself.

I must choose only those that will educate and motivate.

Facebook Groups

I’ve often referred to myself as “an extrovert on steroids.” While 2020, and now, 2021, have changed that to an extent, I still need to feel connected to others.

But as is the case with podcasts, I can spend so much time in the FB groups I belong to that I don’t accomplish the tasks at hand.

And because social media should be a two-way street, if I’m going to be a contributing member of the groups I belong to, I have to limit myself.


<averts eyes and hums>

I am a course (and lifetime access) hoarder.

However, I'll never accomplish all the things that interest me.


I have to narrow my focus and refuse to believe the lie that everything will fall into place if I buy just one more course.

But look at how much you save!

No, Stephanie, back away from the Buy button.

Writing Conferences

If these were the days pre-COVID, I would be limited by my bank account.

Of course, I still am. But when you don’t have to factor in travel, accommodation, and food costs, there are more available funds.

But will attending one more virtual conference really make me that much better of a writer or connect me with that certain someone its crucial that I get to know? Probably not.


Like most writers, my bookshelves—both physical and virtual—are bowing under the weight of unread volumes.

While it’s true that some books become outdated, many include content that is evergreen.

Simply accumulating a vast storehouse of knowledge won’t do us much good unless we take the time to apply what we’re learning.

And unread volumes? Well, they’ll do us even less good.


Writers often have more ideas than they’ll ever be able to get down on paper.

While several authors, especially indie authors, write in a variety of genres, if they don’t focus on the project at hand, it will never get published.

This is true for all of us.

Am I a writing minimalist?

While I’m not a minimalist of any kind, my Theme of the Year is having an impact on virtually every area of my life. And that theme? Contentment, Not Complacency.

This year, my desire is to be content with what I have ... and make the most of it. This includes courses, books, projects, etc.

It isn't simply a matter of limiting myself but actually putting into practice what I learn from those things that are readily at hand.

How about you?

Are you a writing minimalist? In what ways?


  1. Wow. You've really identified some common themes! It's so easy to get 'sucked in' to the voices that claim THIS IS THE ONE - the thing that will help you succeed, when really, we need to start putting some of that knowledge into practice...

  2. Wise words, Stephanie! I tend to hoard things like emails - I might need to look back at it! - and books - but I might read it someday! I totally relate to what you’re saying - if I don’t apply what I’m learning there’s no point in investing in any more. I’ve also discovered that courses are all very similar. They are just clothed in a different metaphor or approach. I keep telling myself that or else I’d never get anything done!
    Pam M.

  3. I agree with you, Steph, but I have the fear that something I give or throw away will be just what I need. I also suffer from seller's remorse. Equipment I've sold or given away haunts my thoughts.

    One thing which has helped me write tighter is Twitter. The 144-character limit made me concentrate on the message with the most potent words. We can now use 280 characters but I still find myself having to use more powerful words and adopt an active voice. What great training that is for writing!

  4. I so relate to all your points, Steph! I'm working on keeping those squirrels away! My motto this year is use it or lose it, which is helping me get to those unread writing books on my shelf (so I don't have to loose them)!

  5. I'm a minimalist when it comes to stuff in the house, but not so much when it comes to my writing life. I probably need to ficus more.

  6. Thanks for your wise suggestions in becoming a minimalist, Stephanie! Paring down and organizing all my writing notes and computer files of writing ideas is an adaptation I'm working on.

  7. Thanks, Stephanie, for writing this blog on learning to live with what we have. No, I don’t need another book or course on writing. I don’t need another book to read either. I need to focus on what I have. I need to narrow things down, so I can contentedly, confidently and comfortably write. If I’m ever going to be a minimalist, I have no room for complacency either.

  8. Think I need to apply the minimalist approach to my writing. I tend to have scraps of paper here and there with an idea, word or sentence and nothing specifically organized. Not necessarily messy, just unorganized. Lots of meat here to chew on.


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