Messy or Neat?

Hi Writers,
It’s funny how interested writers are in how other writers do their work.

In the August issue of Writer’s Digest, we profile four writers in their writing spaces (Vendela Vida, Richard Adams Carey, Lemony Snicket and Lisa Gardner). So I decided to put out a call for readers to post photos of themselves in their writing spaces. To get things rolling, I posted a photo of my home office. I can’t believe how much grief I’m getting for having a neat desk.

I wouldn’t say I’m all that neat, really, but I do need an organized work space to do my work, otherwise I find myself compulsively cleaning and straightening in order to sit down and write (elaborate procrastination ritual?). I’m kind of a serial neatnik at work. My desk isn’t always clean, especially around deadlines, but I do go through some serious binge cleaning every few weeks to keep the clutter at bay.

Well, I was reading the BoSacks newsletter today, and found that I have a kindred spirit in Rolling Stones editor Jann Wenner.
His desire for control occasionally may seem excessive. For example, he insists on neat desks.

“I think if you’ve got a messy office, you must have a messy mind,” he says. “If I walk down the hallway of the company I own, this is the way I want it to look. And I think it makes a good environment for everybody.”

So how about your writing space? Tell the truth: Messy or neat?
And please share your own photos on the WD forum.

Keep Writing,
(even if it’s in a pig sty)

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9 thoughts on “Messy or Neat?

  1. HP van Duuren

    Hello, Maria Schneider,

    I recently (re)discovered your blog, and I saw your post, and thought I might have something interesting to share…,

    On the link below you can find some interesting resources
    about "Neat-ness" I hope you enjoy it, otherwise feel free to have a look arround at my blog, (or have a look at the FREE Preview of my eBook.)

    Here below you can find the link:

    All the Best,

  2. HP van Duuren

    Want to become "Neathly Organised?" just read my June 9th Post
    ‘Happy to Be Neathly Organised’

    And find out all about how I don’t do my work.

    (and don’t you dare not to buy my eBook! 🙂

    All the Best,

  3. Barbara Irvin

    I would have to say my work area is pretty clean most of the time. My computer is right next to my writing desk. So when I write by hand, all I have to do is grab a pen or pencil, take out some paper from the drawer, and begin. When I want to type something I’ve written, I can just face my computer and type away. I do my best to keep my space as neat as possible.

  4. katrinka

    My office space is portable. I carry my files, stories in progress, and laptop in an overnight bag. I carry it with me and set up my office wherever I go. Wireless internet is one of the greatest inventions.

  5. Meena

    I know just what you mean. I can never work in a messy space, and considering that my home office is often used as a catch-all room for all our stuff, I spend a lot of time cleaning up before I can actally get to work!

    I love your blog. You have a wonderful writing voice and I’m sure to be a regular here. Have added you to my list of favourites! Happy writing! 🙂

  6. JAX

    My office space has been my bed while nursing my baby. My rocking chair while watching her sleep. My driver’s seat while waiting for the next green light, and the small and only uncluttered area of my kitchen counter while cooking my family their meals– basically, anywhere I can fit my laptop or a small notepad when an idea pops into my head during my busy schedule. A writer with a passion for writing will write despite a clean or messy space.
    Jax, author of "Heart of the Jaguar"

  7. Karen Putz

    My office is usually a mess, but every now and then I like to clean it up and get a fresh start. Because it is currently in a messy state, I’m holding back on the pictures. I don’t need the wrath of my mom seeing the disorder on the web.

  8. BoSacks


    Jann is wrong. Wait let me take that back, he’s right. No wait… actually, he is dead wrong. It’s fine for the chief to say he demands a clean office and a clean mind, but creativity isn’t clean and it isn’t necessarily organized.

    I have had the privilege to work with some of the best, most creative people of the last 35 years in the publishing/media industry. And yes Mr.Jannfinicky was even in my office back in the late 1970s, which had it’s usual characteristic casual charm. My office is always a mess. It matches the synapses of my brain… always clicking. The same for every great artist I have ever known. So my conclusion is that demanding only neat, rewards you with less than the best in creativity.

    Just one man’s opinion.