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Author Topic: Organized or chaotic creativity?
Member # 5638

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I enjoyed this piece by Clive James, entitled "The Brilliance of Creative Chaos"


I realized I'm chaotic in the study, with books and papers strewn all over shelves, desktop, coffee table, even the floor; but I'm systematic on my hard drives, with a folder for every story, every draft, and the associated research.

What are you? Organized or chaotic?


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Member # 5952

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A charming article, thanks for posting.

I'm chaotic all the way, baby. I chaosed myself out of my own writing room. For two glorious weeks when I first purchased and set up my writing area, I had clear desk space, maybe one or two manuscript piles. Now, my desk is covered in books and manuscripts. So now I write on the bed or on the couch in the living room. My creative process is creeping out in these areas with me, much to my husband's amusement (and alarm). My side of the bed is hopeless at this point (I can't even walk on my side but have to roll over onto his side to get to the floor). Luckily, every so often we have guests, so we beat back the manuscripts, writing books, and associated creative tools that have taken residence in the living room back in their proper place... which is really just in piles next to more piles in at my "writing desk".

Funny, your observation that your computer is clean. My husband's the same way. He's pretty messy (we're both writers), though his Achilles heel, when it comes to cleanliness, is newspapers, and not as assorted as mine (he's always marveling at the weird things I collect around me as I write). His Mac desktop, however, is spankin' neat and organized. He gets upset if he has any file out of place. Me, I can barely see my background picture for all the files cluttering it up.

You've inspired me, though. I had a nice writing niche once. I'd like to have one again. Writing on the couch only permits laziness, and all too often I start watching TV, for "inspiration."

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited December 08, 2008).]

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Member # 5137

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There was a popular book a few years ago called I think Perfect Mess, ah yes here we go

It talked about the value of the "creative leaps" that can come from sifting through layers of papers trying to find a specific thing...but in the process seeing something else that sparks you down a path/reminds you of something you had been trying to put your finger on/etc. Very cool concept.

I use it as justification for the state of my desk, which is in a constant state of entropy. Even when, as Annepinn says I beat the mess back for company, still you can see the papers attempting to disorganize themselves again. They refuse to stay tidy. They try to slip out of piles.

Add to this that I'm a really visual person and remember things by virtue of their position on my desk and things like that and it's really just a total mess in here.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Member # 59

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Oh! This sounds so much like my workspace!

I try to keep the piles from expanding to the rest of the house because my husband is inclined to toss them in the recycle bin without even seeing what's in the pile if they get too bad.

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Robert Nowall
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I hate to clean up in here, 'cause when I put things away I lose track of where they are.
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Patrick James
Member # 7847

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KDW, untidy are you? That would explain why Hatrack is in the state it is in.

Or maybe its that crazy poster who posts things even when they are unimportant or just silly?

[This message has been edited by Patrick James (edited December 08, 2008).]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Member # 59

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Yeah, well. What can I say?

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Member # 8082

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I'm a mess. It's sad and pathetic and I must be the black sheep of my family who considers it a mortal sin to leave the bed unmade, or worse, not vacuum twice a day(really not kidding here). I rarely see the surface of my dresser. My side of the bed is dangerous and I often trip on my way to get my baby in the middle of the night. Unfortuanetly, all I have for writing space is the kitchen table. Sometimes it's hard to find room to eat on, but for the sake of the rest of the family I do try and keep it clean.
Someday I'll have a room of my own. It'll have a nice big desk so that I have room to leave things out. I like to be able to see it all. Also in the room will be toys, arts and crafts and a table for my dauthers to draw and play on so I can write and they can play. I do keep the folders of my computer fairly organized.

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Member # 8354

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Thanks for posting the link, I loved that article so much that I went looking for the BBC slideshow showing the writers rooms. Here it is


On the chaos vs order front; I do both. Chaos rules during the working draft, then when re-writing / editing I clean the room up to reflect my need to clean up the manuscript. It works for me.

[This message has been edited by JudyMac (edited December 09, 2008).]

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Member # 8250

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Chaotic here. Electronic cords have the same tendency as the paper to increase their entropy. I mean, I put the cords back there all neat and tidy, and I don't touch them for a month, how do they tangle themselves into spaghetti?

I don't make the bed either. I heard a quote about that once I thought was very funny. Something like "Making the bed after you sleep in it is like tying your shoes after you take them off."

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