Disorganized Organization

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” -Albert Einstein

There are two types of people within this world: the organized and the disorganized.

Organized people tend to be the preferred type in all areas of society. When you read any job listing it’s always one of the primary attributes listed as a qualification along with “attention to detail.” Being able to keep everything in neat little rows, drawers, file folders, lists, outlines, alphabetized, by date, and easily accessible to others is often prized up there with the other virtues of humility, charity, and kindness.

For those of us who are disorganized people, we are the scourge of the organized masses.

I would say that I’m a little farther beyond disorganized. I settle somewhere between tempest and pure chaos. I wouldn’t say I’m the most disorganized person in the world, my organization doesn’t fall into the acceptable categories. I prefer everything that I needs to be done clearly visible. “Out of sight out of mind” for me is very true, to the point of of “out of sight removes this from the fabric of the universe.” Need to keep things in sight creates clutter. (And no, see through bins and color coded folders don’t help, I’ve tried.)

By day I am a mild-mannered receptionist (or a slightly irritated one depending on the day.) My co-workers are organized people. They are meticulous. When they look upon me they cringe in abject terror. I do my best to relieve them of their panic but that usually results in a tactic I call “hide it and they will never know.” Then that whole out of sight thing happens. Loose paper is my enemy. I attempt to avoid it at all costs, yet is constantly finds me everywhere I go.

In reality, I may be cluttered and scattered to the untrained eye, but to my own busy mind everything is where it needs to be. This may not work at the office, where the organized rule with the iron fist, but in my world of creativity I can create my own laws.

I’ve mentioned before that I do not use an outline. I know some people swear by them and that’s great. Instead of creating an outline before I work, I build a timeline as I work. The difference between an outline and a timeline is very simple: outlines are the road map of your story and timelines record your story’s history. For my trilogy I have a timeline of over 1000 years of historical events, as an example.

As for the direction of the story, I allow the seeds to blow around in the tempest and grow where they may. Story telling has always been my primary talent. Weaving the threads of a story together in the proper chronological order is one way that my brain does organize without any training or assistance. It has always been this way. I recall my mother telling her friends about it in amazement when I was a child. I may not be able to sort papers but I can sort timelines.

This works for me. I understand it doesn’t work for everyone.

I also dislike writing freehand instead of typing on the computer. I don’t write in a straight line and pen and paper are frustrating. They stifle me rather than free my mind. I may be disorganized but I hate crossing things out. The computer gives me the versatility to make changes on the fly, and changes will be made.

I write up until a point. At that point I go back and edit a section I’ve already written. Perhaps I’ve thought of something which will improve the story. In my whirlwind of the mind it’s far better to go back and make the changes while they are fresh. Other times the editing is prompted by a block. If I cannot be writing then I am editing.

The tangled jungle of my creativity flourishes best when I’m walking the labyrinth as an observer rather than as a gardener with a hedge trimmer.

I haven’t seen my process recommended by anyone. I do believe the key is that it is my process. Everyone has one. I think that regardless of if your process is accepted by the higher authorities or not, all that matters is if it works for you. When your process isn’t working is when you need introspection and guidance. Otherwise, allow your creativity to bloom.

Feel free to share any quirks or disorganization ideas in the comments. As always thanks for reading!