Friday, February 4, 2011

Clutter by Deborah LeBlanc

I've heard that the condition of a writer's workspace can regulate the level of his or her productivity. Messy space--sporadic productivity. Organized space--heightened productivity. And, according to popular belief, if properly Feng Shui-ed, that work space can even enhance one's creativity. Well, if all that's true--I'm screwed.

I have two work spaces, one just as cluttered as the other. My favorite is the office in my home. It's an 'enter at your own risk' space that I treasure. My desk is L-shaped, with a printer, scanner, in-basket, bucket of Dum-Dum suckers, and computer tower sitting on the short section of the L. The longer section holds the computer monitor, keyboard, and stacks of paperwork sorted into piles. I have a "working on now" pile, "this looks interesting" pile, and a 'get to it later' pile. A small filing cabinet sits beneath the desk, and it's chocked full of research papers, pens, wayward paperclips, and blank CDs. Well, I think they're blank anyway. . .

Along one wall is a bookshelf, overflowing with books. You can tell I had every intention of doing things right when I started loading the shelves because a few books are actually in alphabetical order by author. That didn't last long, though. My book collection is too big and unruly. The more it grows the more disorderly it becomes--and remains. The shelves won't hold any more, so stacks of books now cover some of the floor.

On the wall to my right are some of my favorite pictures, actors, actresses, and authors I've been fortunate enough to meet over the years---Sandra Brown, Peter Straub, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth George, James Patterson, James Lee Burke, Alice Cooper, Linda Blair (from the Exorcist), Doug Bradley (Pinhead in Hellraisers), and Dee Wallace (E.T. phone home!). Beneath those pictures is a short credenza crammed with more paperwork, pictures of my daughters, a full size replica of Chucky, the Bride of Chuky, a smaller version of Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), a three-foot tall Frankenstein, and wolf statues in just about every pose.

In the room right next door, is a Gazelle, which I use when I'm stumped on a scene, so it sort of fills two roles--exercise maching and think-tank. Without it, my butt would probably be the size of Nebraska.

My other work space is much more boring. It's my office, at the office. No Chucky dolls in this room, just mounds of paperwork, filing cabinets, a conference table with four chairs, and a large mahogany desk. The desk is really too big. It was a gift from a business associate, and all it's really good for is collecting more paperwork. The only space I really need to work is one wide enough to hold a keyboard---like now. Every other inch of this monstrosity just holds more papers, files, pens, empty coffee cups, half empty bottles of Dasani, a bag of sugar-free Life Saver Sorbets, two bottles of vitamins that have been sitting here for two years and that I forget to take, and a bag of carrots, which I brought to work with me today.

Like I said, both spaces are cluttered, but it's organized clutter, which works fine for me when it comes to productivity. I don't think my creativity suffers because of it. Heck , if I had to worry about keeping my work area neat all the time, I'd never get any writing done. Piles and clutter are my way, and in them I can find just about anything I'm looking for with a problem . . . . well, except for my dang car keys.

What about you? Neat or cluttered?


  1. Neat. To compensate for my almost-a-hoarder hubby, I subscribe to the "a folder for everything and everything in its folder" school of thought.

  2. As I sit and type in my incredibly cluttered office, I think: Thank God there's someone else like me!

  3. I think we're related. All that matters is space for the keyboard.

  4. Deborah, now I'm dying to see pictures! ;-) Like Leigh, I'm the neatnik and my hubby is very fond of, um, filling his spaces with stuff. My theory is that my brain is chaos so I like my surroundings organized, and his brain is organized so he can take chaos in his surroundings. But, ya know, whatever works!

  5. Ah-ha, two neats and three clutter-sisters! You know, it's weird. I'm a fanatic when it comes to keeping the rest of the house orderly, but my office/desk disaster. Even when I give both an every-other-month straightening, if I clear away too much, it makes me feel....naked. Weird, huh?

  6. This was so interesting to read. I'm not sure what it says about me. I also have two work spaces. But I only "write books" in the sunroom, which is orderly and surrounded by B&W postcards of my hometown. They're comforting when the day really sucks. My "newspaper writing" (aka count on cash) space is dark and dirty and in a perpetual state of chaos. Hmm, I'll have to think about this...(:

  7. Like Susan, I would love to see some pictures! I'm curious if your bookcase is worse than mine. I'm organized in all aspects of my life except when it comes to my books. Perhaps it's because I have more than I could ever read in my lifetime. :)

  8. to an organized is difficult. I'm sure that there will be a worse person than us.