I’ve heard that the condition of a writer’s work space can regulate the level of his or her productivity. Messy space, sporadic productivity. Organized space, heightened productivity. And, according to popular rumor, if properly Feng Shui-ed, that work space can even enhance one’s creativity. Well, if all that’s true—I’m screwed.
I have two work spaces, one just as cluttered as the other. My favorite is the office in my apartment. It’s an ‘enter at your own risk’ space that I treasure. My desk is L shaped, with a printer, scanner, in-basket, bucket of Dum-Dum suckers, and computer tower sitting on the short section of the L. The longer section holds the computer monitor, keyboard, and stacks of paperwork sorted into piles. There’s my ‘working on now’ pile, ‘this looks interesting’ pile, and ‘get to it later’ pile. A small filing cabinet sits beneath the desk. It’s chocked full of research papers, pens, wayward paperclips, and blank discs. They’re supposed to be blank anyway.
Along one wall is a bookshelf, overflowing with books. You can tell I had every intention of doing things rights when I started loading up the shelves because a few books are actually in alphabetical order by author. That didn’t last long, however. My book collection is too big and unruly. The more it grows the more disorderly it becomes—and remains. The shelves won’t hold any more, so stacks of books now cover some of the floor.
On the wall to my right are some of my favorite pictures, actors, actresses, and authors I’ve been fortunate enough to meet over the years. Sandra Brown, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth George, James Patterson, James Lee Burke, Mary Higgins Clark, Alice Cooper, D.L. Menard, Linda Blair (Exorcist), Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraisers), and Dee Wallace (E.T. phone home!). Beneath those pictures is a short credenza crammed with more paperwork, pictures of my daughters, a full size replica of Chucky, the Bride of Chucky, a smaller version of Leatherface (Texas-Chainsaw Massacre), a three-foot tall Frankenstein, and wolf statues in just about every pose.
Near the door is a Gazelle, which I use when I’m stumped on a scene, so it sort of fills two roles—exercise machine and think-tank. Without it, my butt would probably be the size of Nebraska.
My other work space is much more boring. It’s my office, at the office. No Chucky dolls in this room, just mounds of paperwork, filing cabinets, a conference table with four chairs, and a large mahogany desk. The desk is really too big. It was a gift from a business associate, and all it’s really good for is collecting more paperwork. The only space I really need to work is one wide enough to hold a keyboard…like now. Every other inch of this monstrosity just holds more friggin’ paper, files, pens, empty coffee cups, half empty bottles of Dasani, a bag of sugar-free Life Saver Sorbets, two bottles of vitamins that have been sitting here for two years and that I forget to take, and a bag of carrots, which I brought to work with me today.
Like I said, both spaces are cluttered, but it’s organized clutter, which works fine for me when it comes to productivity. I don’t think my creativity suffers because of it. Hell, if I had to worry about keeping my work area neat all the time, I’d never get any writing done. Piles and clutter are my way, and in them I can find just about anything I’m looking for without a problem. . . . well, except for my damn car keys.
What about you—neat or cluttered?