A writer’s space: messy or neat??

“If a cluttered desk is sign of a cluttered mind, of what then, is an empty desk a sign?”  – Albert Einstein.

As I spend an increasing amount of time at my desk immersed in the magical world of my novel, a work long in progress and always pushed on the back burner because of the pressures of daily life, I have been considering this famous conundrum. Should a writer’s desk be a vision of regimented order or an explosive array of creative disorder? Some people argue that any workspace should be organised and tidy. They believe that everything has its place – preferably at your fingertips, arranged in straight lines and at right angles. Others put their faith in the chaos theory. You can’t see even an inch of their desk under the wild clutter of accumulated notebooks, post-its, and scrap paper. These people swear there is a method in the madness and claim that if they clean up they will never find ANYTHING!!!

I have to admit that I’ve always been a bit messy! Growing up my room would have made Oscar the Grouch feel right at home – clothes everywhere, half-finished projects sprawling across the floor and an eclectic collection of makeup and hair accessories adorning random spaces in desk drawers and on bookshelves. My sister, on the other hand, was more of a neat freak! She had a room that was mostly spick-and-span: clear desk, clothes folded and put away and stuffed animals organised in  order of size – larger ones at the back and smaller ones tucked in at the front. Evidently we had our differences.

But despite what I thought to be a fastidious environment and what she found to be a terrifyingly impossible one, we both managed to make our way in the world . . . in our own way. Interestingly our extremes of behaviour (and personality) have mellowed with age. My sister now has plenty of clutter and chaos in her world and my home is much more together than my room ever was. We seem to have found our happy medium – a place where things are clean and tidy enough not to lose pets and small children in the mess, but relaxed enough to ensure we don’t have to take our shoes off at the door.

And so my writing space is relatively neat, with pockets of debris that I’m quite attached to. Of course there is my writing tools – the necessary pens and pencils; but also a heart-shaped stone from the beach where my husband proposed, a tea-light, cats collar, turtle fridge magnet and a letter compliments of my daughter. A collection of little treasures that, for me, balance Zen and chaos. A personal flotsam and jetsam that provide a warm and cozy spot!

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