The Messy Desk: How Chaos Breeds Creativity

I have a slight confession…my desk…both  desks actually in my home office and at work…tend to be on the messy side, things are askew, I put seashells in my bonsai planter, I have a rubber duck AND whale stuck to the side of the computer, a colorful (empty) tea tin sits next to it just because I like it there. I tell people I have a system and they usually laugh at me because the papers strewn across my desk in haphazard piles look chaotic and unorganized…but they’re not.

I used to be a bit fanatical about having everything in my work space locked down, sticky noted, filed and stacked to avoid disapproving glances from parents, my boyfriend and occasionally my cat…but a recent study has given us messy creatives even more of an excuse to leave our creative spaces out of order. Why? Because someone FINALLY discovered scientific proof that chaos breeds creativity (I may or may not have sprinkled some confetti over my desk in celebration…I probably will clean it up…)

The study centered around how people structure their environments to achieve their goals…for example. If you want to do your taxes in one fell swoop it’s more effective to keep all tax information well organized…even more importantly to do said taxes sitting down to a clear clean area . Doing this focuses you and allows you to increase your productivity by limiting distractions.

However, (this is the fun part) put someone trying to concept and think creatively in the same space and that person will struggle with coming up with ideas. Why? Because the space lends itself to conformity, order, and more importantly a task that has a set purpose and a set way of achieving that purpose.

Creativity often comes from divergent thinking, from becoming caught up, enamored, distracted, having something catch your eye, seeing something at a new angle, in a way you hadn’t been able to before… the chance glance at something that sparks and emotion or an idea. Disorder can create an environment for fresh insight, taking a creative risk and trying on new ideas and new perspectives.

Pretty amazing, right?

So messy creatives, absolve yourself from some of the guilt surrounding your messy desk, maybe it’s our inner muse working to create a space for us that is conducive to new ideas. Embrace it…within reason of course. If you can’t get any work done because you can’t find anything…or you have…strange smells coming from your work space and half eatin bits littering your floor…invest in some disinfectant please (pretty please).

I just have to add this part because I find it super interesting. This same study also found that people who had orderly environments made healthier eating choices…my answer? Spotless kitchen, messy desk!

So get out there and make you environment WORK for you!

Anyone else have the same experiences? Share them below!

Here’s some links about this topic you can check out to learn more:

Clean Your Desk for Productivity (Keep it Messy for Creativity)

Say Yes to the Messy Desk


Freelance Reflections 7/29: Writer’s Burnout. Is that a thing?

I just submitted the final assignment before I leave for San Diego tomorrow (thank goodness for vacations am I right?). Of COURSE the week before I leave everyone wants me to write for them. To be honest, I spent so many late nights writing this week I’m a little fried. You just get to the point where you just need a break and after 8 days and close to ten thousand words later I’m more than ready for a well earned rest.

I’ve heard other freelancers (more experienced than myself) talk about writer’s burnout, where you just can’t physically write anymore. It’s usually talked about in fearful hushed tones but the truth of the matter is I don’t believe in burnout. I believe in over-scheduling, overworking and under-recreating. Freelancers really struggle with the whole Work/Life balance because we are the new hunter-gatherers of the 21st century. We are out there foraging for work, networking, completing projects keeping up to date on the latest social media trends, it’s really much more than a full time job much of which goes uncompensated.

I think it’s important to remember that we need to take time to breathe, spend precious moments with our friends and family not just for their benefit but also for ours. I’m just as guilty of this where I get wrapped up in my work to the point where I don’t go out, I don’t do anything and then of course I feel strangled and grumpy, who wouldn’t?

So if you’re a workaholic like me I say make two days a week sacred, they can be floaters if you like, but make two days a week “NO CLIENT WORK” days. Do stuff around the house, go for a walk, write something FOR YOURSELF to keep yourself happy and the creative juices flowing, but stay away from the stress. I work on my manuscript, do DIY projects, and bake, just so I am learning something new, using other parts of my brain besides the writing parts and making progress elsewhere in my life. It’s been a great rule to follow, and it’s definitely prevented me from becoming overly frustrated.

On that note it’s time for me to pack and get ready! See everyone in August!

Freelance Reflections 6/27: Freelancing for Free? Yes or No?

Recently I was approached to do a volunteer freelance project for a small charity trying to update and redesign their website.  I accepted and offered to do it completely for free. WHAT?! I know. Free. People said I was crazy, that I should have charged a nominal fee. As a first year freelancer I was immediately conflicted about this decision after the initial response I’d received from others about it. 

It got me thinking about how others might feel when asked to complete a project for nothing. After all, the adage, “Time is Money” is definitely true for freelancers. The more we work the more make and the sooner we can increase our rates as we collect more and more experience. 

In the end I stuck to my guns and completed the project for free and came to the conclusion that really it’s no one’s business if I offer to lend my skills out to a cause that I believe in for nothing. In fact, I did get paid but not in the way that most people expected. In personal satisfaction.

I know, I can’t live off of satisfaction and I wouldn’t recommend anyone offering to volunteer their services if they don’t have enough income to take care of themselves but once I’d finished the project I felt great. So often in freelancing we’re called to complete tasks for clients and we don’t really get to pick and choose who we write for and what we write. This charity happened to be something very personal to me and the opportunity to help them and make a difference is something I don’t come across often. 

Also, the gratitude expressed by the Director of the charity was extremely motivating. They were so grateful for the help, they gave me a fantastic testimonial, and I know for a fact that they will be getting in touch with me in the future for other work and recommending me to people as well. Good press is always good to get, and when it comes with feeling like a hero it’s hard to miss the money I would have made had I charged them. This will open doors to other opportunities down the line and establish professional relationships that will surely help my business grow. 

So Freelancing for Free? I say yes but depending on the project and what you’re being asked to do. Also setting up a boundary for revisions is essential. My maximum is three for paying clients but for pro bono assignments I would probably only allow two rounds of free revisions. After that I say my hourly rate kicks in which is a good way to keep pro bono assignments from dragging on for forever.

What do we think? Have you had any bad or good freelancing projects where you worked pro bono? 


Welcome to the official blog for my freelance company Write Away Freelance LLC.  The purpose of this blog is three fold.

FIRST. I hope to provide a resource for freelancing creatives (like myself) as well as help potential clients get to know me, the kind of work that I do and to help with the whole should I? shouldn’t I? part of hiring a writer (here’s the quick answer: Yes…you should.)

SECOND. Although I know a ton about writing and how to put words together and how to make sense while doing it, running a business is a new venture of mine. I am frenetic researcher and a lot of my blog will be about talking to young professionals  and creatives who (like me) are embarking on this journey for the first time as well. We gotta stick together right?!

THIRD. TO HAVE FUN! I mean let’s face it, a blog is a funny word, that describes a funny place where funny people get together and write funny things.  As a freelance writer I’m often so busy with client work and meeting client needs that I forget to take some time to write for myself! So I’m fixing that. Expect jokes, funny quotes, the occasional sarcastic remark, funny pictures and posts about random things (y’know just to keep ya on your toes)

I have an open door communication policy and I am happy to answer some questions if you have any, or connect you with an audience if you have something to share that’s helpful. I’m also accepting relevant guest posts if you’d like to get some exposure or portfolio pieces!

Hopefully this will be an entertaining resource and an insightful commentary on how a young twenty something decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue her passion.

So let’s get to it shall we?