Clutter And Creativity
How Clutter Could Be Stifling Your Creative Expression
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,
Clutter, essentially anything you don't need,
use or love, affects your creativity 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?
1. Do you spend a lot of time looking for
things when you're trying to work?
2. Do you feel uninspired or even dragged
down by what you see around you in your
3. 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)?
4. Are there things in your workspace that
you haven't looked at in years?
5. 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
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 work. Riding on trains,
sitting in cafes or surrounded by nature.
Do you have time clutter?
On any given day:
1. Are there many things you did that you didn't enjoy doing?
2. Are there many things you did that you didn't need to do?
3. Are there many things you did that
didn't do you any good (maybe even did you
The clutter in our schedules can lead to a
chaotic life while things just seem to
"happen" to us.
Do you have mental clutter?
1. Are you distracted by thoughts while you're trying to write?
2. Do you criticize yourself in your own mind?
3. Do you spend time re-playing conversations or events?
4. 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?
1. Do you "brood" about arguments long after they've happened?
2. Do you hold grudges?
3. 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
Do you have relationship clutter?
1. Is there someone in your address book that you'd like to let go of?
2. Do you find it hard to concentrate and listen intently to people?
3. Do you find it hard to be open to what
other people are offering you (i.e. the
appreciation of your audience or a compliment
from a friend)?
4. Do you find it difficult to freely give
(i.e. to perform without being preoccupied with
your own thoughts)?
5. Do you say "yes" to everything that's asked of you?
Sometimes we hold on to broken relationships for
the same reasons we hold on to broken things:
because we think they can be fixed (and that
we're actually going to take the steps to fix
them), and because they're familiar and safe.
The clutter in the rest of your life blocks your
communication - it's just too hard to listen
with your whole heart when there are layers of
clutter in the way. This affects your inner
listening as well - your ability to tune into
your intuition, your "muse.” Stage fright is a
BIG form of clutter.
Is clutter impacting your health?
1. Are you "too busy" to exercise?
2. Is fast food easier because you can't find your kitchen counter?
3. Do you exhaust yourself with a busy day
and then putter around trying to "wind down"
until late in the evening?
4. Do you not notice (or pretend not to
notice) symptoms of illness or injury until
they're so severe that you have to take drastic
5. Do you have a hard time falling asleep
because your mind is whirling around or your
emotions are surging?
If we're surrounded by clutter and chaos,
things like eating vegetables or walking around
the block just don't seem do-able or important.
And yet if we don't take care of our bodies
everything else becomes much, much harder and
can lead to fatigue, illness, trouble
concentrating, pain, addiction and weight
Tips for Clearing the Clutter
1. If you're serious about tackling your
physical clutter, I recommend the book, "Clear
Your Clutter with Feng Shui,” by Karen
Kingston. She has wonderful ideas for clearing
your clutter and also helps you to have a much
deeper awareness of how the clutter got into
your life in the first place.
2. One simple method to get the physical
clutter out is to create three piles (boxes are
helpful), labeled: Give away, Throw away and Put
away. You can add other categories if you like
(i.e. recycling, repair).
3. To quiet down your mental clutter, try
writing. In “The Artist's Way,” Julia Cameron
recommends writing three full pages every
morning. Find your own method - write to do
lists, poems, lists of everyone you're mad at,
talk back to your inner critic, write about
whatever's swirling around your hear. You can
also write down questions for your muse - help
with a particular verse or a request for general
4. To deal with your time clutter, just say
"NO.” This is a muscle that might need some
exercising. Put yourself and your creative
pursuits first - just because you're at home,
that doesn't mean you have to be available.
5. If emotional clutter has your heart tied
up in knots, practice letting go. Forgiving
someone doesn't mean condoning what they've
done. It means freeing yourself and being open
to positive emotional experiences.
6. To improve your relationship with your
audience and combat relationship clutter, think
about what they're hoping to get from your
performance - maybe to be transported by the
music, to be inspired, to have their feelings
put into words, to be soothed, to be "rocked,”
to be energized or to be cradled. You have an
enormous power to give them these gifts.
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