For a long time I didn’t know the difference between minimalism and simple living. On an average day, for many years, I usually floundered somewhere between manically stressed, manically busy, and just plain manic! Life was like a treadmill on which I couldn’t sustain the pace. I became exhausted, and so stressed that sometimes I couldn’t even remember where I was, or what I was doing. My mind would often go blank with me just staring into space. Now I can see that it had shut down to protect itself, but at the time I didn’t know what was happening to me. I thought that I was losing my mind, so it was a scary place to be.
When I first started to think about both minimalism and simple living, I thought that they were the same thing. It was only when I looked into them further that I could see the difference. My aim when I started to explore them was to feel better, have a lot less stress, and to then be able to write more. So I wanted to be sure that I chose the one that was best for me.
Despite living in really confined spaces at several times during my life, I hadn’t been comfortable to eliminate things like my books. This was because they have given, and still do give me, so much pleasure. I love that I can immerse myself in a book, and become someone else for a while. I can live in their world and don’t have to face reality when it is bad. It gives me time to recharge, and to get my thoughts together. So there is no way that I ever want to not have my beloved books where I live.
Minimalism is great for some because it means living with very little. With it, comes a type of freedom. There is not much to clean, tidy, or purchase if you live the minimalist lifestyle. It is clutter free, and much cheaper than the consumerist lifestyle that so many seem to live now.
Simple living is a little different. It is where you make a decision on what can make your life more simple. So, it may be that you want to live with minimal possessions, cleaning products, etc. But, it can also mean that you actually still want a lot of shoes. So you will then need space for all of those shoes to be stored. For some this would just be part of their simple living choices, and for some, it could never be.
Because of my simple living experiment, the first part of which is documented in my book ‘Simply Does It‘, I know that simple living can help writers to the point of me being able to increase my writing productivity by over 800% in just a year. But would living a minimalist life help a writer to do that too?
Whilst living a simple life, I can have many things around me which help to stimulate my writing. These can be in my garden, in a room where I write, or in several places around my home. I can also choose to have many different music CD’s to listen to when I write, and several types of pens and notebooks to actually write with. All of these things can make a big difference to my writing day because I write better when I feel comfortable in my surroundings.
If I chose to live a minimalist lifestyle, which is great for some, I wouldn’t have all of those things which can affect my writing in such a positive way. I would possibly have one thing that would help me.
It could be argued that if I live with less clutter and fewer possessions around like those who live minimal lives do, then my mind would be less cluttered too, and therefore might be more productive.
Personally, I applaud anyone who chooses either lifestyle, because they are making choices about things that really matter to them. They are choosing to live consciously and that is great. I believe that both types of lifestyle can benefit writers. All we need to do is to try them for ourselves, and go with our gut feeling as to if either of them is right for us.
I intend to continue on the simple living path in order to be able to write more. I hope that you find the right path for you too.