Clutter – it’s messing with my writing

Six years ago I undertook a major home renovation project by adding a great room addition to the rear of my Cape Cod style home.  Even before the construction contract was signed, I visualized the space doubling as a weekend writing lounge for myself.

I imagined two glass French doors propped open on spring-like mornings while I was serenaded by fluttering wings of songbirds landing in the shrubbery—a welcome contrast to the backdrop of a soft trickle of water from a small nearby stone fountain.  The sweet-and-salty conflict of nature’s wild honeysuckle and mankind’s deeply-roast coffee steam would mingle through the room, encouraged by the flirtatious east-coast breeze.  No doubt this would be a writer’s paradise.

Contrary to my vivid imagination, the momentum of my writing has suffered for the past several months due to mental clutter.  Partially to blame was the long slog of job-hunting that, fortunately, led me to an exciting and enjoyable new opportunity that both stretches and monetarily-rewards my creativity.  Also to blame is the desire to maintain a regular cadence of physical-fitness; activities that directly compete with my pre-dawn writing time.

If mental clutter wasn’t enough, at present my physical writing space is cluttered, too.  My large dining table is sans tablecloth except for a white protective padded cover that annoyingly shifts and slides whenever I’m trying to write.  At the right of my keyboard is a stack of paid paper invoices waiting for shredding or filing, while at the left stands a small stack of unpaid bills and unsorted mail that creeps atop my mouse pad with each passing day.  And finally, there’s the assortment of home improvement implements—tape measure, electrical testing equipment, and bright-yellow twirled mess of an extension cord—occupying the other side of the table waiting patiently to be properly stored in the basement.  Granted, this physical clutter is certainly in my control for quick remedy, but it’s been here for four weeks now.

Speaking of my imagined garden view, there’s definitely a stark difference between fantasy and reality.  Sadly most of the time the French doors remain shut to block out the constant barking of the Bumpus’ nineteen (okay, three? four?) dogs from the rear adjoining yard, courtesy of a dog door sized to accommodate a Siberian tiger. It’s that, along with their proffered view of an above-ground pool ladder straddled with shocking-colored pool noodles and sundry flotation devices that can be seen just above the sight-line of the six-foot privacy fence I installed last summer.  But I’m to blame as well.  In the five years since completing my home’s renovation, I’ve yet to install any trees, shrubs, bird feeders, or water features to invite songbirds and restrict the view to my property.

There we have it.  Clutter is messing with my writing.  But which is easier to remedy—mental clutter, or physical clutter?

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5 thoughts on “Clutter – it’s messing with my writing

  1. I identify with a lot of this! Think you have to be in the right frame of mind to get rid of your physical clutter – so either way, a start needs to be made on the mental clutter first.

  2. This strikes way too close to home for me! I think the mental clutter is the real problem (for me at least). Life is so complicated and busy, I can’t get my head into the right place to write, even if my physical space were right.

    On the other hand, my cluttered physical space is always on my mind, too, so dealing with that might help in a way. I guess it all just goes hand-in-hand.

  3. I find that the one contributes to the other. Overwhelmed with distracting minutia, you never quite get around to taking care of the structural things that help put you in the right frame of mind just by their existence.

  4. Ahh, the clutter of our lives, such folly of our taxing days. I loved this post; it speaks to me so directly.

    I say we assign us a workday, taking it as an opportunity to remove as much physical clutter as possible. We ‘make’ ourselves place it directly where it belongs. We do nothing else, no distractions can we afford.

    Fall is here! We must plant those trees. Week number two provides us our day.

    The schedule obviously must be flexible. We are writers, and as such, must make ‘hay’ when inspiration bellows through our sails.

    But once a week we must find that day of reckoning, the putting-up and casting-out Of those items that steal our freedom.

    Yes, we must organize, because, alas we will be free!

  5. I cannot believe this! Do you secretly live in my house? A white padded cloth sits atop my dining table, stacked high with bills and documents, all of which needed to get taken care of last month. My trebling fountain remains a trickle of my imagination, and the flagging garden needs help as it always does. I have a brand new full time job that’s paying the bills but sapping my strength and stealing my writing time. The assortment of implements straddle my computer mouse pad and your Bumpusses live in my cul de sac with their ever barking dogs. No wonder I can’t get anything done – you’re taking up my space.

    But wait, we have a faux Mission style home in California. Must be me here, the Procrastinator, waiting for clearance so I can write. Yeah, the stuff is real but I should clear out the garbage in my head and then tackle the rest.

    Tomorrow, for sure.

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