Keep Your Junk in the Drawer


Even gritty blogs need to have some class.

I know this because I have a fairly gritty blog where I’ve said some hard, rough things about my life and life around me. And occasionally, I’ve taken junk out of the drawer that should have stayed put, said things that didn’t need to be said, gone over the top.

So you might think I’m a fine one to be lecturing other people.

But, in this, my sixth year of blogging, it’s the advice to keep your junk in the drawer that rises to the top. Here’s why:

  1. There isn’t an endless supply of junk in the drawer. Even the biggest, deepest junk drawer has a finite capacity unless, of course, you are replenishing the drawer with new junk. When the drawer is empty or when you get to the little scraps of junk that aren’t all that interesting, your blogging life will stall.
  2. Junk sharing is an amateur’s approach to blogging. It lacks nuance and character, relies on shock rather than good writing to get attention. When I read a blog that is straight up junk sharing, I think, “Is that all you’ve got?” Everybody’s got junk. Give me a little credit, do some thinking, bring some sophistication.
  3. Your junk will usually involve other people. Here is the great quandary of bloggers and memoirists: what part of this junk is my story and what part belongs to other people. Bloggers who rely on family junk for writing are paddling in tricky waters, especially if their children’s problems are their primary focus. Remember here that I preach from a position of recovery from the writing about my children addiction.
  4. Bloggers who are really worth reading are writers. They can take a walk through a grocery store and make it interesting and memorable. They think past the junk in the drawer. They see things we missed. They weave and embroider words. They produce art. That’s where I’ve moved in my six years of blogging. I don’t call myself a blogger anymore. I’m a writer with a blog.
  5. Blogging about the junk in the drawer keeps you looking in the junk drawer all the time. If that’s what you’re doing every time you sit down to write, running your fingers over your life’s junk, you’re going to be stuck in the junk drawer. You are going to miss the fabulous, the new, the exciting, the funny, hilarious, sweet things in your life because you can’t see past the junk.

My advice is this: use the junk in the drawer to give your writing depth and meaning. Use those old pens and thumbtacks to frame your thinking. Use the pile of bent paperclips to give your writing heart.

Let the junk in the drawer be where you start. Not where you stay.


Written in response to a prompt from The Daily Post: Give your newer sisters and brothers-in-Wordpress one piece of advice based on your experiences blogging.

13 Comments on “Keep Your Junk in the Drawer

  1. I’m having some fun perusing your blog. I have been following you for awhile, but miss some, well really many of your posts. Time is elusive and I have been wasting mine for almost two years. But I’m back baby and I’m so grateful for your writing. It’s real, it’s funny and I can relate even if I have never had the same observations or experience. You make it so relatable, is that even a word?

  2. A lot of good advice here. So often when I open my iPad I have only a vague notion of where that first line is going to lead.

  3. Superb advice, and expertly given. I found you through a link from Life Lessons by Judy Dykstra-Brown and suspect I’m going to enjoy more of your work, if this post is any indication.

  4. This is why I’m so grateful that I didn’t have this outlet when I was younger, because it would have been all snark and junk, junk and earnest indignation, drama junk and mom junk and divorce junk and dating junk. Junk.

  5. Kind of afraid to say anything here as I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of all of the above. Good reminders though. Painful, but good.

    • We all have, Susanne. Even Red admits she has. We probably still do on occasion but within reason. It flavors the stew, doesn’t dominate it!!!

  6. Janice,
    Really interesting and strongly worded blog. I hope each time I pull a piece of junk from the drawer that I use it to tell a story or provide some lesson I’ve learned. I would love for you to check out my blog some time and tell me if you think I’m succeeding at that goal…or could use a little more work! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing,

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