Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Simplicity, Harmony, Opportunity

"Three Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity;
From discord find harmony;
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." 

Albert Einstein 

I’ve always been suspect of a person who has nothing on their desk. I remember sitting with an operations manager whose desk had a phone and desk blotter, nothing else, nada.
Not my desk. I have a blotter but that’s where the similarity ends. Being an empty nester, I waited about a year before I commandeered my daughter’s room, cleared out the last remains of her childhood, and made the room my own. It was fun to decorate just to please me. My design was simple, books. I surrounded myself with them, floor to ceiling. I did put in some necessities, a corner desk for the computer, printer, and a phone. I decided on a large library table, sitting catty corner, would be my work area. It seemed fitting with all the research and resource books I usually had stacked or scattered about.

My desk is usually covered with a small stack (or two or three) of paper/files for my different projects, research books (the ones I’m reading for pleasure are in a pile next to the sofa), a lamp (I hate using the overhead), pictures of the family, my favorite picture from the mound at Warwick Castle (for inspiration), and a bud vase with some tired lavender one of the kids brought back from a class trip (I did mention I’m an empty nester, a sentimental one). Then there’s the odd stuff that seems to magically appear, a news article my husband has left for me to read, a stress ball in the shape of a heart and my gold star paper weight for my first sale. It’s really a comfortable room.

Things seem to gather on my desk. Eventually I take time to sift through the piles and put things in their proper place whether that’s filing, rearranging, or tossing. Sort of like my writing.

I used to have a ‘clean as you go’ theory. Clean as in edits that is. Whenever I picked up my writing I would read the story from the beginning, no matter how far along I was. I’d look for the weak words, layer in the five senses, etc. I always found something to edit. One day I laughed out loud. I had over 125 pages written, if I started from the beginning each time I picked up the project I’d spend more time reading than writing. Geez, I’d never finish the story.

Now I use my cluttered desk theory. Put it all down, then tackle the edits and rewrite.  I’m organized, to a point, but find myself working to get the story written and not really worrying about overused/weak words or verbs, using the five senses, tightening up sentences, making certain all the hooks are in place, reviewing and editing the Point-Of-View, combing through for show vs. tell, well the list goes on.

In essence, I’ve de-cluttered my desk as well as my writing. What does your desk look like? Guess whose desk is in the picture. I'll give you a hint. It's not mine (I don't smoke a pipe). But after looking at it I think I'm in pretty good company! 


  1. I've been losing the clutter in every area of life. It must be the new year that has motivated me to de-junk. Thanks for the post. I do need to add my writing to this effort. Just need to write it first.

  2. I don't realize I've surrounded myself with clutter as I'm writing, because I know what every sheet and sticky note is for and where I've put it. But once in awhile I suddenly see the area with new eyes and think, "I can't work like this." So I take time out and straighten. But what's the use of putting away the research when you're using it--and you'll just waste time pulling it out again? Clutter. It's all in the definition. LOL.

    1. You're so right Barbara. My problem is I have more than the clutter from my writing on my desk. Separate piles for separate things, writing, community service, the kids, the house. You name it and I have a pile for it.

      But there's a sense of accomplishment when you organize it (not necessarily put it away). Not only is my desk straightened but so are my thoughts. At least... it works for me.