Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Major Distraction or Daily Motivator?

I tackled a major distraction over the weekend: I cleaned my office! Technically it wasn't something that interrupted me per se, but it was something that distracted me on a continuing basis. Over the last few months, as I put all my concentration into finishing the book, my office gradually disappeared. It got to the point where even the cats had a difficult time finding a path to the window. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but it was close. Understand, I only seem to have this problem with my office. The rest of the house is neat and tidy.

The process of drowning in a sea of clutter was a gradual one. First there was the accumulation of paper littering the desk, all related to the book, of course -- research notes, character info, plot ideas, maps, snippets of dialogue, and more. I like the physical feel of pen on paper, so I jot and I doodle and I scribble. I rarely get around to transferring any of my handwritten stuff to the computer until I actually use it in a scene, and then I usually don't stop to throw away the paper (assuming it isn't buried under a mountain of *other* notes).

Then there was the floor. That started with a good intention. Bring up a couple of plastic bins from the garage, I thought, and throw all the paper from the desk into them. You can go through the bins later, but in the meantime, the desk clutter will be gone. That bright idea was 9 months ago.

Yeah. You can see it coming, can't you? Pretty soon, I had stacks of plastic bins, full of stuff, covering the floor in front of my desk. I was beginning to feel like George Carlin.* Yet somehow my desk just kept on accumulating stuff on top of it.

None of this interfered with my ability to work on my computer; none of it interrupted me. It did, however, distract me. I'd look at my office every morning and long to clean it up, but I knew it would take days to do it right. And the thought of devoting days to a task that wasn't writing the book was something I just couldn't make myself do. I know I was playing a psychological game with myself, but it felt like if I prioritized cleaning the office over writing, I'd be giving up, somehow. I'd be telling myself I wasn't going to finish, so what did it matter. I know it isn't logical, but it's how I felt.

What finally sent me over the edge, though, was inheriting 6 boxes of more stuff as the incoming Chapter President for Mid-Willamette Valley RWA. Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful to our outgoing President--the boxes are neat and organized. It was just...6 more boxes in my office! I wanted to cry. I made a pact with myself that when I finished the book (I was very close) I would clean my office before I started another project.

I did finish the book by the end of November, thanks to NaNoWriMo. Maybe, in the long run, I should consider my messy office as the final motivator to finish the book! I took a few days off, but this last weekend, I did it--I cleaned my office. So, there are still a couple of things on the floor and those 6 boxes are under the desk, and there are a couple of short stacks of paper on the desk, but it's manageable. And I feel energized and ready to start my next project--without the distraction of a messy and cluttered office. Whew!

How about you--do you find that a messy workspace is a distraction? Or, maybe you manage somehow to keep your work area tidy and never have to face this problem (if you do, I envy you).

Deborah Wright


* George Carlin's classic routine about "Stuff" -- boy, can I relate! :-)


chanceofbooks said...


You finished a book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This is your first ever right? I am so very proud of you!

P.S. Your office looks great ;)

Paty Jager said...

Congrats on the finished book!! And the clean office!

I do find if my writing area gets too cluttered it starts to bother me. But I tend to have piles of research on my desk as I'm writing a book so that doesn't bother me, it's the stuff piled on the other surfaces that annoys me. I tend to set things down to "put away later" only later doesn't come until I do what you did, an all-out assault of the area.

Paty Jager said...

Oh and congrats on the new president status!!

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

LOL, Debbie! Thanks for the link to the George Carlin clip about "stuff." Hilarious!

Your post sounds so familiar--because my office too has disappeared amid the accumulation of "stuff." Gah! I usually don't look at anything except the computer screen, and to make sure one of the dogs isn't curled up on my chair. That allows me to work without noticing the "stuff" that is rising higher and higher in the room.

I know it's a distraction for me, because cleaning my office has been on my "to do" list for quite some time. Since last tax season when I vowed, once again, to input all my expenses/income into the databases I had set up and to keep everything filed neatly in the file cabinets. Don't think that lasted even one month. Sigh.

I definitely need to clean my office! So I added it to my scheduling database--which has been keeping me surprisingly on track. Hooray!

You are such a good role model! Congrats on cleaning your office, on finishing your book, and on becoming the new Prez!

Barbara Cool Lee said...

I like to clean everything out before I start a new project, myself. I end up in complete chaos in the later stages of a book, too.

And sorry about the six boxes, but that's the price of being Queen .

And CONGRATULATIONS again on finishing your book!!!

Deborah Wright said...

Thanks Chanceofbooks! :-)

Yep, first book. And I've submitted it, so I'm now PRO status -- yay, me!

Deborah Wright said...

Thanks Paty.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that with her office. It just felt the last few weeks like it had suddenly gotten worse -- though it really hadn't. I should've taken a picture of it at its worst, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. ;-)

Deborah Wright said...

Thanks Genene!

It really did feel like a burden had been lifted once I finally got the office clean again. I knew it bugged me, but I didn't know it was weighing me down. Whew!

Deborah Wright said...

Thanks Barb! And no worries about the boxes -- I think it was how organized you were about the chapter that finally inspired me to clean the office, if I'm honest! LOL