There are some days, no matter what the state my house or study is in, I’ll write like a madwoman possessed. Forgetting to eat and only taking necessary breaks to visit the bathroom. I end the day in a misty haze and sore hands. That’s in my manic state. More often than not I require the bed to be made, the dishes done, my desk clear and just a few scattered notes on my outline to accompany me on my writing day… only because of all the mental clutter. Distractions, random thoughts beckoning me away from what I am meant to be doing. (Don’t get me started on the evils of Youtube and Tumblr.)
I find making lists keeps my head clear and on point. But they are short and realistically achievable in a day.
In the days when I was fierce about my career in Film and Television, I’d thrive on days of unprecedented tasks. The overachiever in me loved a challenge. My brain and limbs would crackle with nervous energy and the day would literally pass in a blink because I was so consumed with my work. I love that feeling. The amount of work you can get done. But it is not realistic or sustainable, especially in a creative role. Plus, completing such a high volume of work also takes impeccable organisation and time management. These days I have a toned-down version – simply because I like to enjoy my life a bit more, explore the outdoors and feed the muse. If I really wanted to, I could lock myself away and write until bleeding from every orifice. But then I’d have to deal with the crash. The writing hangover. And I’d be no good to get the edits, marketing campaigns, query letters, and all the stuff (which takes up just as much time and is essential after writing ‘the end’) that comes next.
There is so much more to writing a book than writing a book.
So I like to keep my house, my workspace, and my thoughts organised. I have folders galore. Excel spreadsheets. Goals stuck on the wall in front of my face. It works for me. It leaves me feeling fresh and ready to take on the world in the mornings. Because writing is a long-term endeavour – for me anyway. I give myself small daily wins and keep my eye on the finish line.
If I don’t maintain the tidiness of my work desk at times I feel claustrophobic or headachy. Psychosomatic symptoms of trying to juggle too many things and keep on task.
When I lived in the city, I loved my white, sparsely furnished office, with a massive workbench to spread out on. Now in the county, I love the view from the mountain top to the coastline. It says anything is possible. Sky’s the limit. Yes it’s cliché, but having so much space just outside my window lets me expand my mental musings into the never-ending sky.
I’ve come up with some of my best ideas watching the clouds roll across the lush green landscape. It’s calming. It’s inspiring. Now I understand what people say when purporting that nature is fodder for creativity. I’ve also noticed, the lessening of technology aids in my writing productivity. No television, internet, phones and other devices. It’s me and the blank page. Pen and paper or the keyboard and my word processor. Simple. Something about that state calls to me. Urges me to fill it with words and ideas.
Granted the finish line will always keep moving. Because, lets face it, there is always going to be the next book I want to write. It will be that way until I die. And that’s okay.
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2 thoughts on “Mental Clutter and Writing”
This is really helpful Casey. I try and write as often as I can, but work and school makes it difficult for me at the moment. I’m graduating in May and I cannot wait to try and put these organizational tips to the test. I’m in the process of making a home office/private space for myself for creative writing purposes. I find that if I have a dedicated space for writing only, I tend to be more focused.
Me too. I’m mostly a pantser when it comes to writing, but after 100 pages or so I need a solid plan to fine tune and complete the novel. Plus I am a bit of a mood writer to and have multiple projects going at once, so a clear workspace and a daily goal keeps me on task. At times it is also useful to mix up where I write for a half day. Laptop and wine on the blacony; coffee shop; library. The change in routine can also help in productivity. Weirdly enough I get a lot of work done on the tram or at the airport – always inbetween going to and from places… maybe I should pretend I’m on a permanent holiday and the work will pour out of me 😉 Best of luck with your writing endeavours. And invest in a good chair.Nothing worse than a sore butt or back from sitting on your behind all day ;p