Does Creativity Need Chaos?

Do you need mess to be creative? Is a tidy mind an uncreative one?

photo of sticky notes and colored pens scrambled on table
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

It’s a bit like the old writer’s division between those who plot meticulously, ’plotters’ And those who write as it comes, by the seat of their pants, called ’pantsers.’

Most writers fall into one or the other of those categories. Most plotter s squirm at the thought of not having a plan. While more pantsers claim a plan would stifle their creativity.

Equally, I think most people naturally fall into one of two camps on the tidiness and clutter front.

Clutter .jpg Jesus Hilario H Unsplash
 Unsplash by Jesus Hilario H

Confession time I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder, old photos, certificates, special clothes, books, so many books, and more prosaic items like pens, and notebooks and glass jars.

Recently I read a book* which not only explored how to deal with your clutter but also what your clutter meant to you. What was your clutter trying to tell you?

One of the insights which shook me was that clutter was not just physical the stuff that you can see, but also mental. Mind clutter includes those random thoughts, of fear, procrastination and even thinking about your clutter.

Delving deeper the reasons for our hoarding make more sense. Those things from the past, the old photos, certificates, or yearbooks They all speak of past achievements and reflect our fears that we won’t achieve more.

Wedding dress .jpgZElla Duda
Unsplash .Wedding by Ella Dudia

Old clothes, some are precious memories, no one is suggesting you get rid of your wedding dress! But others may make you feel bad when you look at how slim you were way back then. We are past the era of make do and mend you know you won’t ever wear them again, but they are taking up mental as well as physical space.

Then there are the clothes that you bought that you have never worn, because you bought on a whim, maybe they are aspirational clothes for a life you don’t lead. They too are clutter, no matter how much they cost.

Paperwork, I am sure that it multiplies in dark corners and for a writer, paperwork can easily accumulate. As I speak I have three shelves filled with random paperwork. Some I know are notes from workshops I attended. Others are multiple hard copies of stories that I have re-drafted or edited. Just looking at it overwhelms me. I know why I don’t want to clear it what if I discard a gem? What if there is a brilliant idea there and I trash it?

pile of covered books
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But I have no idea what is there and if I need anything I spend ages trying to find it. So, there it is, this month I am making a commitment to tackle my paper mountain, one shelf at a time. Shred, file or simply toss.

Your turn now what does your clutter mean to you? Safety blanket, comfort, mess?

Disclaimer I do not know the author, I have not been paid to endorse the book it is simply my opinion.

*Note the book that I read that made a lot of sense was What Your Clutter is Trying to Tell You by Kerri L Richardson.

Author: soniabellhouse

Sonia Bellhouse is a contributor to Writing the Dream, an anthology for published writers produced by Serenity Press in 2016. In 2012she won two major awards in the inaugural Rockingham Short Fiction contest. Sonia's articles and stories are published in various magazines both in Australia and the UK. These include Good reading, Today's Bride, That's Life! and That's Life! Fast Fiction in Australia and Yours, The People's Friend and Best of British in the Uk. Sonia worked as a book reviewer for two years .As an avid reader and writer of multiple genres she facilitated a local book club for eleven years. She reluctantly decided to give it up, to concentrate on her writing. Sonia is a long time member of a writers group, regularly engaging authors to present workshops to the group.. Sonia enjoys catching up with friends, ignoring the ironing in favour of playing with her cat and learning new things. She's taken several online courses with Future Learn and The University of Iowa for both writing and non writing topics.