This is an easy piece of advice to agree with.
Until we open a drawer, or look in a cupboard, or try and find a file on our computers.
There are lots of reasons and theories about how and why we accumulate so much stuff and our parents, spouses or partners, and professionals, telling us to cut down or not buy more to begin with.
The same can be said about our creativity.
We accumulate attitudes, ideas, ways of doing, which over time can leave us in a mess.
Every now and then we may have a tidy up but how many times do we discard.
The writer Stephen King was stern in his advice to ‘kill your darlings’ – those characters, paragraphs, ideas, which are you need to discard.
It is difficult to determine what we don’t need.
Creatively, surely the more skills and techniques we have the better we become?
Yes and no.
The more skills we have the more versatile we can be, but they can also lock us into a particular way of doing things which maybe limiting.
In art, think of how differing brush strokes created whole new movements such as the Impressionists
In music, think of how discarding notes from a chord helped to produce the deeper and heavier tones of Rock/Metal.
But what do we discard?
Discard whatever is holding you back.
Creatively experiment by removing things.
If, as a writer, you spend ages writing descriptive passages because you find them difficult, then discard them. Be simple and straight to the point. Your reader will help by filling in the gaps.
If, as an artist, you struggle to draw faces then don’t draw them. Most fashion designers don’t. Go further and don’t draw the bodies either.
Discarding isn’t always about getting rid of something.
It is about making space where you can choose to bring something new in.
Replace lines for dots, chords for individual notes. A human character for a non-human character.
And remember you can discard your thoughts.
You don’t need to remind yourself of what you can’t do.
Remind yourself of what you can do.