Creativity & Clutter

I’m getting this off my chest. Once and for all.

Let me know if you relate to this.

My love of making, creating, art, craft, books and design is often in conflict with my affinity for minimalism.

My distaste of clutter and need to create is at loggerheads. Clutter is subjective of course. I like a clean surface and for everything to have its place. I wouldn’t go so far as OCD, but you know. Tidy. Organised. Creating space to help me think.

Creativity messes with the tidy. Creativity creates chaos.

I have trouble with the urge to create (especially to make something physical) VS the question of what to do with it (especially when it’s rubbish).

Because I dislike clutter in my home I sometimes don’t want to bother making anything at all.

I know — language check.

Should I be calling my lovingly created creation, clutter? Probably not, but we all know that most of our experiments and processes will likely hit the discard pile, the cutting room floor as they say. There is an element of realism that is required when going into making mode. Not everything will be a masterpiece. To be fair I don’t think I would ever be a position to create such a thing.


I know — language check.


Battling with creative urges along with the justification and resistance of my ego is half the struggle. More than half actually. Once I’m over that hurdle I can then crack on and create a mess, maybe pulling out a smidgeon of something worth looking at.

It’s that smidgen that gets on my goat. All that thought and effort to have a measly outcome which probably won’t sell, will take up space, collect dust and cause clutter. FFS.

Spending all that thought and effort to create something I actively do not want. Clutter.


I know — LANGUAGE CHECK!


I get so bogged down with the outcome that I constantly need to remind myself that the process of making is the priority. When I say constantly I mean, like, everyday.

Now then, this is the turning point and where I remind myself — and you — of our innate need to create. Brené Brown puts it perfectly in her book The Gift’s of Imperfection:


“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasises. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.”


And that doesn’t sound good at all does it!


On the flip side, let’s look at a more inspiring point of view. When I first read Big Magic I read it back-to-back twice in about a week. It became my bible and I regularly refer to those pages for support, encouragement and challenge.


“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, a hell of a lot more interesting life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.

These are my guiding words of wisdom when I feel the urge to make stuff. “Who cares about the cutting room floor?” I do, but sssshhh!


Sometimes the inspiration hit’s so quickly that my inner critic has no time to step in and take the reins. No time to pull on my heart strings and produce resistance. In that case the making is no problem at all. I just crack on and get into flow. Easy.


It’s the other 85% - 99% of the time when the idea is more complex, a slower burn, a building, developing required, emerging which takes time. Time for the ego to step in. Time for the “what ifs” and the “not yet’s” to creep in.


So my message today, and of course this is a message for myself as much as anyone, is that, making stuff is hard. Not everyone does it. It’s a choice to dive in a get going but the choice stops there.

It’s never creativity OR clutter, it’s both. Always.

Pulling a masterpiece out nowhere has a probability of zero plus 0.01% and I’m not patient enough for that approach.

Clutter is a necessary part of the creative process and it needs to be embraced.


Argh, just writing that prickles the minimalist inside me. Get over it and get on with it. I WANT AN AMPLIFIED LIFE!


In my case the notion of creativity brings with it a tension. The need for making stuff vs a preference for simplicity. So when I say “I’m getting this off my chest. Once and for all.” I lied. These two parts of myself will be present within me and I just need to work with them.


Connecting my mind and soul to bring an understanding to the table. Helping chaos & clutter weave in and out of the need for minimalism.


It’s an ongoing juggling of my gemini spirit. I’d say it was fun but I’d be lying. Again.