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August 19, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Creating in a Mess

The other day, a few Facebook friends posted the same article that brought up the connection between “messiness” and having a creative mind. Basically, people who tend to create cluttered environments for themselves also tend to think more creatively since you have to go a little outside the box to keep making everything work. I was pleased to hear this, and also — vindicated.

I’m not a neat person. I put effort into being so: I’ll try to put my books on the shelves, remind myself to put away the spices when I’m done cooking, maybe actually use my jewelry box every once in a while. But in the end, clearing off the kitchen table is an insurmountable chore, and I swear sometimes that putting my clean laundry in the drawers causes me a small level of physical pain. Just look at the photo of my desk for proof:

There’s room in my line of writing books, but I choose instead to leave others stacked on top. Random papers poking out everywhere. A box of paper clips containing one paper clip. A haphazard pile of books stacked on top of my husband’s old laptop, which neither of us has used in, I think, years. Not shone is that day’s coffee cup alongside the half-drunk tea from the day before, and the magazines, books, and an open box of envelopes shoved in the alcove under the printer.

Obviously as a kid my room was a pit. My sister shared the blame for that, but my brother’s room wasn’t much better. So, constantly, we were asked, ordered, implored to clean up the mess, to not stop until the rooms were “immaculate”, a word so oft-repeated, and so impossible to attain, that it’s now the only word in the English language I actively hate.

It was nice to see, with this article, that the mess isn’t necessarily my fault — my brain actually does not function that way — and that it may have helped fuel my creativity. Take that!

There needs to be a balance, obviously; even the article mentions that. There have been times I’ve let things get so out-of-control messy that I can’t think of anything else. And I can’t expect friends to sit alongside unfolded shirts and eat around last week’s mail. But maybe if I can figure out what the method to my mess is, I can stay comfortable in the kind of person I am without getting in my own way.

What about you — are you messy, or a neat freak? Does that ever get in the way of your ability to create? Do you wish you could be neater?

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