One of the tips you’ve heard (and will hear) me give time and time again is that one of the most important things when writing is to write where, how and when suits you.
For me – as you probably well know by now! – that means writing regularly, as my mental health permits, and in a very clean and tidy space. Today, I want to concentrate on just that final part – the space in which I write.
I am exceptionally fortunate to have a house large enough to have a separate study. Because both my partner and I work from home, this was a requirement for us when picking a house. I don’t regret it for a moment. The room is bright, large, and most importantly has my back to his desk so I don’t have to see his mess.
Speaking of mess, though. Whilst I definitely did tidy my desk for the photograph above, this is nonetheless quite representative of how tidy I prefer to have it. I generally have my bullet journal – the blue notebook you can see on the in-tray – open in front of me at all times, displaying my weekly spread. This, however, is the extent of the clutter I can permit.
I suspect this is something to do with having lived in very, very messy spaces during the worst of my depression. These days, I can’t do this; I can’t cope with it.
I am still messy, as anyone who has ever come into my kitchen will know. I still don’t clean things up instantly. I have to fight to make myself maintain my house – my weapons a weekly cleaning plan and a ‘when did I last’ page (displaying things like changing bedsheets, washing towels, cleaning windows etc) in my project journal.
But messy spaces are a magnet for my depression and anxiety. One of the many problems with depression is that it saps your motivation, and then as a result you find yourself living in a manifestation of your own trauma.
And, as you have also heard me say a hundred times now, depression and anxiety are the enemy of creation. If I am unwell, writing is one of the hardest things to do. So I have to do everything I can to give myself a happy, healthy space to write in.
This remains a truth that isn’t well publicised, which is why you will hear me repeat it. We need to do away with the concept of great trauma breeding great imagination. Yes, trauma can be an incredible informant for future creation. But if you are in the midst of that trauma? You cannot possibly bring it forth. You need health and safety and peace.
So do not feel ashamed if you have to fight for your ideal writing space. I fight for it every day, an ongoing battle with my depression and innate messiness.
And I don’t regret it for a moment.
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