Why having clutter in your writing room is okay

Recently I had a friend over, and he remarked on the clutter in my writing room. I’m not a hoarder. There are no empty pizza boxes stacking up. There are just stacks of paper every where, and books, and miscellaneous writing instruments. Knowing that I’m a writer, he commented, “How do you manage with all of this clutter about? The rest of your place is so clean.”

He’s right, the rest of my place is clean and tidy. Well, there is that one room—the one everyone has, the one filled with stuff to get rid of—but we won’t talk about that. But this one room, my writing room is quite cluttered.

I can see how it might seem odd to someone that a writer might have a cluttered writing space, thinking that all of those papers and books would be the functional equivalent of noise. But no, in fact it’s not noise. It is a sort of ordered chaos, at least that’s how I think of it.

I replied,”Have you ever been in a carpenter’s wood shop?” He nodded yes—I’m not sure I believe that he has but, he was playing along and so did I. “What did you see there?”

He looked perplexed and shrugged, so I answered for him, “Wood chips, and filings everywhere, discarded bits of wood.”

We stood there silent a moment, both looking at the scraps of paper, stacks of books, and pens.

“These are my wood chips, my discarded bits of wood.”

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