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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Do You Work Best in Chaos or Control?

Stones on the beach at Flamborough
Do you work well in clutter? Does it really matter to you if the desk is covered in piles of manuscripts, notes to remind you, a document stand overflowing with ‘things to do’? Is it no problem for you to step over those things you’re planning to sort out every time you enter the room?

On the other hand, do you have to have a tidy desk, with everything in its place and nothing outstanding. Is that box of odds and sods already sorted for sale on Ebay or ready for the local charity shop? Or does such a box never exist in your life because you always clear these things as they come along? Is your inbox only ever the place where new emails live for the short while it takes you to deal with them? Are you obsessive about the places your things are located, ensuring everything is always exactly where you want it?

I lie somewhere in between these two extremes of chaos and obsessive tidiness.

For a number of reasons, with which I won’t bore you, I’ve had to allow certain irritations to build up over the last few weeks. It’s always a question of priorities. But I do find it difficult to be creative and disciplined in my writing habits when the desk has a pile of correspondence awaiting attention, the inbox has over 100 emails I need to explore further, the room I use as a study is crowded with objects that need some attention before I can either sell them or recycle them via the local Help the Aged shop.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, when I arrived home from the half week I spend at an office in order to supplement my earnings from writing, I decided enough was enough. It was time for a serious bout of deck-clearing. I want to get on with the fantasy trilogy I’m writing, and all these interruptions are getting in the way. The only solution is to deal with them.

So far, I’ve reduced the inbox to 13, and 12 of those are required for future action I can’t actually take at the moment. I’ve updated the Writing Contests page on this blog and therefore removed from the desk the pile of magazines, leaflets and other printed matter I consult for this task. I’ve restored my daughter’s old computer to a working state, which took some 10 hours of attention, reformatting and re-installing of software, so I can see if that will sell on Ebay. Along the  way, I’ve dealt with all new emails (I get around 70 a day), posted a couple of items on the blog, kept up to date with Pinterest and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, all of which are social sites I use to keep in touch with readers. But, as a happily married man who wishes to remain so, I’ve also spent some real quality time with my wife, who is a great support to my writing activity. An earlier post on here describes our day in Hull to see the Da Vinci drawings and watch the latest Bond film. And we also managed a longish walk along the local cliffs near Flamborough. I love the sea and find it refreshes my spirit. Took some pictures along the way, which I’ll add to the albums I have on Facebook when time allows.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, the lesson of the last few days has been that I work better without clutter. And, if I’m able to keep it at bay, I’ll get a lot more writing done. So, I’ve found my ideal working situation. Have you found yours, or are you continually in a state where you’re either fighting against a chaos over which you have no control, or are you so busy keeping everything tidy that you have no real time to do what matters most; you writing?

There you go. I’ve even found time to write and post this piece on the blog. So, here’s your challenge: if you’re not already working in your ideal environment, do something about it and sort it out so you can work in your optimum way and actually get that writing done.

Good luck, and have fun!

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