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Documenting my odyssey into the wonderful world of fantasy writing and beyond. Can't promise I will always be on topic as the world is vast and full of such wonderous, and sometimes terrible, distractions. Email me: cassandra.jade.author@gmail.com

20 May, 2009

The Clutter on my Desk - Organisation and Writing

I am one of those people who likes to plan every minute of every day. Things around me function like clockwork or they do not function. That explains why my diary is full of notes, all colour coded, and extremely detailed, giving me every bit of information I could possibly need.

You would think that with this attitude to life, I could manage to keep my desk clean.

However, my defence for the state of my desk, both at home and at work, is quite simple. I am a creative thinker.

This might seem at odds with my rigid and logical approach to life, but ultimately I think it works quite well. Anyone can be creative. However without dedication and drive, they are unlikely to ever turn any of that creative energy into something meaningful. My hard and fast approach to life are tools developed while at school, to ensure I actually did something, rather than sitting around and daydreaming. Yet creativity must come out somewhere, or I might very well suffer a critical meltdown. That somewhere is my desk.

At the moment I am sitting about thirty centimetres from my computer monitor. In that space I have:
  • two open envelopes, from where I was checking the mail
  • a dictionary of first names
  • three notebooks with various notes and plans scribbled in them
  • a printed draft of my second MS that I am editing
  • a USB which may or may not have anything of significance on it - I found it under another pile of books last week so it is anyone's guess
  • two pens, one of them works, I don't remember which one
  • a necklace that I took off while writing the other day
  • four bracelets, removed to make typing easier and then forgotten
  • a box of tissues
  • a stuffed bunny (made in China), no idea why
  • a bottle of nail polish
  • an anzac day badge
  • several cables
  • my camera battery charger
  • and a hair clip.
All of this in one thirty centimetre space and I haven't even turned my head to look right (where my printer should live but it got moved out because I ran out of room on the desk). If I look up, I have an entire row of paraphernalia placed strategically to help me focus. Everything from ornaments, to pictures, to Cd's, to a ring box.

Periodically, the rigid and controlling part of my personality wants to clean my desk. This process consists of me removing everything from the desk and then strategically putting it all back. Usually I rearrange the order, but it all ends up back on the desk. Try as I might, I can't convince myself to throw anything away or move it elsewhere.

The bottom line is, when I do clean my desk, I can't work. I stare at the empty space and place a clean notepad on it and draw little scribbles in the margins and stare blankly at the empty space, but nothing gets done. It is like I'm suddenly void of any thought or energy. Certainly, I cannot come up with any interesting or creative ideas while faced with a sea of nothing.

I know some people can't work in mess. They take one look at my work station and think I'm a slob or disorganised. Nothing can be further from the truth. Ask me to find anything and I can lay my hands on it nearly instantly - with the exception of old USB's, that one managed to evade me for some time.

I work best when inspired by clutter. The point of a work desk is to get work done. I guess it is up to each individual to decide what works for them but I would suggest the following:
  • ensure you have some sort of visual element near you (picture, poster, calender, children's drawing, whatever)
  • if you have to have some sort of organiser for holding pens and the like choose one that is at least a little flashy, even if it is still functional
  • have as much on your desk as you want, but ensure you have some sort of system for organisation - for instance the tissue box on my desk clearly separates the desk into two distinct halves of current fascinations and things that I have pushed aside.
  • finally, rearrange often - small changes often yield large results.
Tell me about your desk and how it helps you.


  1. I like to keep my desk clear, at least to begin with. I'm this way about my entire house and work area at my job. I'm obsessive when it comes to clutter; I feel unsettled until my surroundings are settled. When things aren't where they belong, I'm distracted.

    I don't choose to be this way; I just am. If things get cluttered as I'm writing, I don't stop to straighten things out before I continue writing. Thank God for that.

    Some day I'm going to take a deep breath, begin to write with a messy desk and see how it goes. My observations of other writers is that many creative people do thrive on a certain level of disorder--maybe it would work for me, after all.

    I love your post and will attempt to focus more on my creativity and less on the surfaces around me.

  2. I Love Your Work Darkened_Jade Fantastically Inspirational