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A Perfect Mess

A Perfect Mess cover










There’s an actual book about procrastination entitled: A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits Of Disorder a perfect title both for this blog post and my office desk I avoid working from on most days.

So I was very heartened when a blog post from the fabulous Nina Grunfeld of Life Clubs shared a great link in her blog post on April 22nd to an on line article about the spaces creative’s work from.

It was with a sense of relief when I read through the post to recognise that my disordered and cluttered office space, which on many levels feeds and drives my creativity, is also shared by many of the world’s more famous and well-known creative’s.

I love this picture of Nigella Lawson at work.















That’s me. If it was not for my organized, keep things clear, fastidious, Virgo partner our home would literally be a monument to books and magazines and if I could a tree growing in the living room would be great. In fact that was actually one of the images that was included in the online post.

A quick peek at the current perfect mess of my desk as of 8am this morning.

My_ desk_at_home











In the past I’ve done the good girl thing of tidying up the office, filing away the papers but my good deed lasts no longer than a week, maybe ten days at a push before the mess quickly claims back it’s space.

So now, I no longer expend my energies attempting to resist the mess, instead I let it be and just get on with the business of being creative.

There are the downfalls of course, like the times when a great quote that I know I wrote down somewhere on an index card gets lost, never to be found and of course it’s the perfect quote for an article or essay I’m writing about at the time.

But these moments believe it or not are far fewer than the hundreds of times I’ve remembered a story, or a quote or even a theme that I’ve been able to picture the book in my mind, the page it might be on (I’m strong on remembering whether a quote is located on the right or left hand of the page), go to my shelves, locate and open the book and retrieve the quote. No classification system needed here, just the pure, magical genius of  I liken this to a ‘quote orgasm’. The feeling of achievement is so dammed satisfying.

To top it all off the headliners from the book, a Perfect Mess reads, “How crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on the fly-planning make the world a better place.”  The book argues throughout that there are many hidden benefits of disorder. For messy creative’s like me this is comforting to know.

At the end of the day your creative space will be as individual and as original as your fingerprints. It’s yours to reflect exactly as you wish. What I’m learning is to reduce the judgments on what the space looks like and to expend my energies on the processes and learning that emerge form the many creative moments and outputs in my day. To me that is the real source of my creative engine.

The other thing I am realizing that my desk is not the place I feel most confident and comfortable working from. My desk reminds me too much of formality and having to get things right. I’m realizing that my desk is a space where I house and hold my papers and stuff.  It’s not where I generate my best creative work.

You might be surprised to know that some of the places I work best are on trains, tubes and buses, somewhere out in nature, or in a café, sipping on a glass of wine (I know I should be drinking water).

When it comes to trains the longer the journey the better I work. I once arrived at Euston station after a 2 and a half hour journey and was astonished at how absorbed I had been in my writing that the whole journey had passed me by.

On journeys across London’s Victoria, Central and Jubilee tube lines I’ve birthed, edited, revised and proofed many of the posts, on the blogs on my website. I’m far more productive sometimes when on the move than when I’m at my desk.

One summer my desk became the lawns of Dulwich Park (it was one of those moments when the weather was so much more promising) and on another day I camped out for the day In Kew Gardens. When I need space and time to deepen I head for the primal nature of Richmond Park which is both creatively and spiritually uplifting.

More recently I’ve found a great spot to write from in my newly refurbished local library. But it means being first in line when the library opens its doors at 9am to secure my favourite writing spot.

To sign off I’ll leave you with a few more of the images from the online post showing the workplaces of the “famously creative’ and a link to Nina’s blog post In my next post Ill include some images from two great books in my collection entitled, Writer’s Houses and Writer’s Desks.















Alexander Calder, Sculptor

MartinAmiswriting space








Martin Amis, Writer











Will Self, Writer

Chipp Kidd










Chip Kidd Book Cover Designer

Maybe one day my desk will look like this……….









Amanda Hesser, Food Writer

All images except image of Will Self’s desk are from the book: 40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative

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