I seem doomed to have my writing environment in constant upheaval. Today we had workmen jackhammering up tile in the downstairs part of the house that got flooded and so I had no wifi, no room to get to my desk (because all the furniture is still stacked up in my study) and a whole lot of dust to clean up. Now, I am hardly the type to have a clean desk policy but this is getting ridiculous!
I remember the law firm I worked for in Melbourne many years ago tried to impose a strict clean desk policy. You were not supposed to have a scrap of work on your desk at the end of the day. Needless to say I failed miserably. I am a woman who works in ‘piles’ and if I don’t have these prominent situated around my office I can’t for the life of me remember what I am supposed to be doing. I was lucky that the partner who I worked for at the time, a very anally retentive lawyer with a spotless desk, took pity on me and let me continue in my dirty, piled up paper, working fashion. Apparently, he said, he couldn’t really fault me as I managed to work just as efficiently despite the mess. Although I would much rather work in a clean office environment, just as I think everyone else would too as it would allow us to get more work done. I might have to ask my manager if we can buy from Green Facilities or somewhere similar to ensure that our office remains as clean as possible.
I was pleased to read that this phenomenon is borne out in a book called The Perfect Mess by Dave Freedman and Eric Abrahamson which contends that those with cluttered, messy desks are often more efficient and creative than their neatnik brethren. Since my desk always looks like a disaster zone I think I am going to stick with the Freedman/Abrahamson interpretation…but nonetheless I have to wonder whether most writers are like me – or whether I am just deluding myself that disorder is merely a sign of a great author in the making.
As it is, I am always surrounded by piles of research and printed out copies of the latest manuscript. Currently I have marked up copies of part one of my young adult WIP, a pile of articles on Orphic mythology, notebooks with scrawls for two new projects I am contemplating, an atlas of WWI with post it notes spilling forth, files relating to my sons’ school stuff I need to attend to, and a messy pile of handwritten notes with a revised plot outline in progress.
So what about my fellow writers? Do you, like me, have a messy desk full of piles of paper or are you a neat freak with everything organized and de-cluttered for the sake of productivity and sanity? What do you think, is a messy desk a sign of creativity or just plain slovenliness?
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