I once worked in an office where I had a large cubicle as my office space. My desk, spare chair, and even part of the floor had stacks of paper arranged in seemingly haphazard ways. My supervisor came by one day and asked me to straighten it. I looked at the mess and replied, “It can be neat or I can get the work done.”
The way the surroundings are is the way my mind works. As one writer friend says, “One big whirlwind in a stewpot.” There is a threshold—too much clutter and I can’t concentrate. Too little, and my mind empties into blankness.
I do have a system for the mess, although darned if I can explain it. But I know when I’ve crossed it. There’s a weight on my shoulders that forces me to think of the clutter instead of the next scene. Deadline or not, the pen goes down, the computer gets turned off, and I begin putting things away and shredding paper.
The opposite end of the scale is when company goes home. I tend to look around and wander aimlessly through the space, searching for those elusive ideas that faded into the woodwork. It takes a little time but a few scattered books and papers and a sweater or two tossed on a chair, and I’m ready to consider work.
What about you? Is clutter a help or a hindrance to your writing?
* Used by permission: © 2015 Trina Schart Hyman and Pawprints, Inc.