Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 30 April 2016

THE IMPORTANCE OF A TIDY DESK by Gill Stewart



I've been struggling to make myself focus on my writing recently. Struggling to pin myself down to writing this story on this day. Previously, when all else failed and I thought I was never going to be able to write again (because I hate my writing and the place I write and the whole process …) I used to go for a walk. And sometimes that helped, but not always.

So today I decided on a new approach: I tidied my desk. And it’s amazing! The clear space! All my notes in neat piles, somewhere to put a pristine sheet of paper to start another set of notes. Bliss.

And oddly, not just bliss, but productive. It’s as though I’ve cleaned out my mind as well. Bits of this story, that review, the new plot outline … they were all muddled together inside my brain. And now they’re not. They’re also in nice tidy piles with labels on them so I can come back to them when I need them but I don’t need to get tangled up in all of them at present. I can pick one pile and start working on that, nice and easy and straight-forward.

Now I admit some people may not need to go through this process because they always have a tidy desk. (Who are these people??). But for me it has been a useful exercise. One I probably need to do more often. But not too often, or I wouldn’t get that amazing eureka! feeling of the difference between the old desk and the wonderful new one.

Has anyone else tried tidying their desk recently?

20 comments:

  1. I have too much stuff in the office to ever be tidy. Boxes of books, boxes of family photographs, shelves of research books, scripts, bank statements etc, contracts - oh, and everything everyone wants me to keep for them "just in case". And I live alone!

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    1. I know, I know. But I bet you do a bit of a reshuffle/tidy every now and then?

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  2. All my writing paraphernalia, piles of notebooks, writing magazines, how-to books, numerous lists(!), fill most of our dining room table, with just enough space left to fit my laptop. But here in Scotland next week we head into exam season, and my eldest son's revision notes, text books, jotters etc have been steadily joining mine. Until I realised this week that he is now being forced to pile his 'stuff' on top of mine. So a Spring clean was needed, and I agree, Gill, it does feel good. I've felt more focused in my writing this week. Will it last? Yes - at least until my son's final exam! :-)

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    1. Glad to hear it Rae. And good luck to your son!

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  3. This weekend I'm in the middle of not only a desk clear-up but a complete sort out of my study. I'm looking forward to the sense of satisfaction I will have when it's done - right now, though, it looks worse than before I started. I am reminded of what someone once told me - "People with tidy desks never experience the excitement of discovering surprises."

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    1. And what surprises have you discovered? A whole study tidy out is very impressive!

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    2. I've found three books I haven't read, a notebook with poem drafts and notes, a lipstick I thought I must have lost when I was out and a pencil sharpener. My desk is still cluttered but I'll get to it tomorrow.

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    3. And surely you found at least one of a pair of earrings that's been missing for months ...

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  4. I completely identify with your post, Gill, right down to not doing it too often! I get the same feeling when I eventually sort out all the random scraps of paper I've written on and put them in some kind of order. Very liberating.

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    1. Thanks Rosemary, I'm glad I'm not alone!

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  5. Fab and fun post! My desk is bordering on illegality; so bad that I simply can't face it and write in a cafe instead. 😊

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    1. Writing in cafes is good :)

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    2. Ah, the next J K Rowling, then! :)

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  6. I wouldn't say my desk is tidy, ever, but it's workable. I have, however, been forced to tidy up more than I usually do as my eight-year-old grandson plays games on Google Chrome for an hour or so on Saturdays and Sundays. So, I've had to make sure any saucy photos (for research, you understand) or lists of unsuitable words are out of sight! He's a good aid to desk-tidying!

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    1. I've never thought of grand-children as an aid to desk tidying, but I see they have a role to play!

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  7. My desk is a midden and my brain is a muddle. The very thought of getting either of them straight fills me with utter dread!

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    1. But it doesn't stop you writing, so clearly you don't need a tidy desk :)

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  8. I usually attempt a 'tidy up' before I finish for the day - I too label different piles of notes etc, but sometimes I get swamped and have to have a good sort out. I love having just what I'm working on close by and little else. Really interesting post! :-)

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    1. Thanks Julie. That would be my ideal too, but it doesn't always (or even often) work out that way!

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