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Linda Dessau : Clutter & Creativity

Clutter & Creativity

By Linda Dessau

Take a look around you right now. Look away from the computer screen and scan around you — the surface of your desk or table, now scan farther to look at the rest of the room. Close your eyes and imagine the rooms you can't see from here; particularly the space where you most often work on your creative projects. Take a deep breath and really take in the image. What's the impact?

If you're like me, a reformed pack rat and clutter-magnet (and I think many creative people are), you might even find it difficult to breathe — almost like the piles, mess, unwanted and un-useable items are taking up air. Well, they are!

Clutter, essentially anything you don't need, use or love, affects your songwriting on many levels. In your workspace, it's messy and makes it harder to find and use what you need to get your work done. In your schedule, it creates chaos and a feeling of a lack of time. In your mind, it clogs the pathway to your intuition and feeds fear and self-doubt.

In your heart, it blocks out love and peace by hanging onto negative emotions from the past. In your body, it weighs you down by making it harder to take care of yourself and harder to hear the messages your body sends you. In your relationships, it clouds your communication and affects your ability to give and receive.

This article will give you come clues for how to spot clutter in your life, and tips on how to begin clearing it out.

Do you have physical clutter?

  • Do you spend a lot of time looking for things when you're trying to work?
  • Do you feel uninspired, or even dragged down, by what you see around you in your workspace?
  • Does the clutter distract you by reminding you of things you need to do (broken things that need to be fixed, half-finished projects, unanswered mail, unpaid bills)?
  • Are there things in your workspace that you haven't looked at in years?
  • Does anything in your workspace remind you of unpleasant experiences?

Creative energy needs space. While some of the artists I spoke to when writing my book, "The Creativity Interviews", seemed to thrive in chaos and busy-ness, most equated creative flow with a peaceful serenity surrounded by open time and open space.

Aside from space and freedom from clutter in our "home base" (the workspace where we write routinely), sometimes it's OUT THERE that we actually do our best writing. Riding on trains, sitting in cafes or surrounded by nature.

Do you have time clutter?

On any given day:

  • Are there many things you did that you didn't enjoy doing?
  • Are there many things you did that you didn't need to do?
  • Are there many things you did that didn't do you any good (maybe even did you harm)?

The clutter in our schedules can lead to a chaotic life while things just seem to "happen" to us.

Do you have mental clutter?

  • Are you distracted by thoughts while you're trying to write?
  • Do you criticize yourself in your own mind?
  • Do you spend time re-playing conversations or events?
  • Do you spend time speculating about future events?

Sometimes the chatter in our minds is constant and difficult to decipher. Other times there are the same boorish and loud messages over and over again — messages like "You can't do it!", or, "You're no good!" All of them are distracting and make it much more difficult to hear our muse.

Do you have emotional clutter?

  • Do you "brood" about arguments long after they've happened?
  • Do you hold grudges?
  • Do you spend a lot of time focusing on the things in your life that you don't like?

Emotional clutter stems from the same pack-rat habit of not wanting to let go. Instead of hanging onto an old sweater missing a button, it's hanging onto an old emotion. Once an emotion is over, it's over, unless we choose to hang onto it. That's a powerful ability we have — to either stay enraged, sad or anxious over something that happened three days ago, or three YEARS ago, or let go and give ourselves the freedom.

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