Sunday, August 13, 2006

Creative Writing: Cutting Clutter to Enhance Creativity

When you’re a full-time writer, it’s important to create a schedule and a method of time management. However, your setting is also important to your creativity. Your ideal writing space will be free of distractions…and clutter is distracting.

Different people have different levels of sensitivity to clutter. Some are immune to clutter, satisfied to have desks that look like war zones, while others will find themselves stopping to clean up if they see a paper out of place. People also face different clutter challenges. If you’re in an office environment—even, heaven forbid, in a cubicle—the immediate space on and around your desk is all you need to keep clutter-free. If you’re like me, and have a desk in your living room, it’s more of a challenge to develop a de-cluttered zone, because the larger space creates more clutter, and thus more distraction.

If you are prone to clutter-induced distraction, the best thing you can do is to set aside time to de-clutter before (I emphasize before) you sit down to write. Many writers, myself included, like to find tasks that help them avoid the act of writing. If you’re one of those, the temptation can sometimes be too strong to resist. You know how it goes: “I’m stuck on this paragraph. I think I’ll take a break and tidy up.” Three hours later, you’re out pulling weeds in the garden while your manuscript sits unwritten. By taking the time to clean your work area before you sit down to write, you eliminate that potential distraction before it has a chance to issue its siren’s call.

I’ll talk more about this next time. Right now, I have some laundry to fold!

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