Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Writing 101 Production - Part 13: The Vital Desk Equation

I'm sure you are all familiar with the idea of feng shui (if not, take a quick 101 via the link). You may see it as superstitious oriental claptrappery, or New Age scammery--or on the other hand you may be someone who has had your house feng shuied by an expert for a shedload of cash.

But--what on earth has it got to do with writing? I hear you ask.
Lovely Blog Readers, you may mock me and jeer at me as much as you like, but for what it's worth, I think that at least one of the basic principles of feng shui can indeed be
a useful tool in the writer's armoury and it's on my mind right now at this very moment. (Warning: there will now be a shocking confession and at least one image of a distressing nature).

Lots of writers work in a sea of mess and clutter.  I am no exception, and am definitely NOT a naturally tidy person.  But from long and painful experience, I find that if I de-clutter my environment then I am much more productive.  It makes sense (to me anyway). Take a look at the picture below, forinstance. Untidy, eh? I'm not sure how my desk got like this, but let's blame a combination of 'I'll definitely do it tomorrow', too much interference from external factors and not enough time spent writing for now.  Does that sound vaguely plausible, or should I just bundle it all under that shameful P-word*?
What do you see? OK, OK, I'll save you the trouble of peering at your screen and tell you. Piles of Cluttery Stuff--a mixture of Vital Notes For Novel and several other writing projects, School notices (probably unread), books used for reference or quotes and then flung aside, magazines, dictionaries, files, unpaid bills, old chequebooks, invoices, receipts, accounting bits, empty mobile phone boxes, chocolate and biscuit wrappers, a CD that enough confession and distressment for the moment (hey, at least I moved the 5 coffee cups)? So what vital feng shui ingredient am I missing?  Yes, Lovely Blog Readers, you've got it in one.
Clear Space.
What I need to do now is to spend half a day tidying and sorting to produce a Harmonious Writing Environment Conducive to Creativity. It makes me feel horribly tired to contemplate doing it. But I know that if I don't, the pile to my left (and the pile to my right, but I'm not showing you that--there is a limit to how much cluttery sluttishness I will expose voluntarily), will niggle at me and prevent me from concentrating properly.   So here's that vital feng shui desk equation:

De-Cluttering=Clean Desk Energy=Creative Flow

Trust me--it really does work, even if I should probably have couched it in terms of 5 jade lotus flowers or something.  Now, excuse me while I sort myself out and find the polish.  I have a novel to write and I can't do it with my desk in this state of anarchy.

* P for P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N, the curse of all writers.


Della said...

I am obsessed with having clear space on my desk to release my creative energy. When that's done I look at blogs and the news and e-mail and anything else on the computer that I can reasonably procrastinate with. Then when that's exhausted, I do the laundry. In between all of this a page or two gets written and sometimes a wonderful idea hatches and takes me by surprise. It's roundabout, but it seems the only way I can manage it :) Thanks for sharing your similar experiences!

Talli Roland said...

I hear you! I can't work with clutter at all. Everything on my desk needs to be clean and tidy for me to think properly!

Stroppy Author said...

Oh dear. I think tidying is displacement activity. My desk has got so messy I've moved rooms. Now that one has got so messy I've decamped to the library. I bet mine is *far* worse than yours. There's even a dead crow on my desk ;-/

I wonder what life would be like if I had a clear desk. I think I'd panic and be unable to write

Katherine Langrish said...

"A sea of mess and clutter" describes my desk exactly, Lucy. Teetering piles of papers and books everywhere, half-empty coffee cups, and probably a small landslide of towels and spare duvets and sheets from the burstingly crammed linen cupboard I share the room with.

I think I'll go and tidy it up right now...

Lucy Coats said...

Ok--three 'must be tidy' to one 'must be messy'. That's about what I thought it would be! Anne--I think the dead crow might be a Step Too Far, even in my messworld!

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