Monday, July 18, 2011

Creative People Are Messy

Growing up, my room was a mess (note: this is not my room pictured, but it might as well have been). I was supposed to clean it. But I never did. By middle school, my mother had given up the battle of wills with me. I was perfectly content to wait her out on restriction until she cleaned it. Maybe because she still allowed cheerleading, gymnastics and baton. It was straight home afterwards, but that just meant I could curl up with a good book in my room (no television or phone allowed). Eventually, she would get so sick of it, she would just clean it. My brothers, on the other hand, were complete neat freaks.

Looking back, I don't know how I could stand it. It wasn't quite like an episode of hoarders, but I do shudder thinking of only having a small path from the bed to the dresser to the closet to the door. My dad would always say to my mom, "Well, she's creative, dear. You know how those creative people are. They like things cluttered."

I'm not even sure where that excuse came from. My dad's dad was creative but he never lived in clutter. Of course, he had a housekeeper so maybe that's why.

Anyway, when I moved out on my own, it was a shock. Living in the dorms at USC was so much fun. I had a drama student as a made my room at home look neat by comparison. My mom would drive two and a half miles to clean my room. How embarrassing. Now. Back then, it was "OHMYGODMOMILOVEYOU!"

When I moved out and started working in television, I had little time to clean. Guess what? I did. I couldn't stand living in a sty. It stifled my creativity. What's up with that? I would work 60 hours and sleep half the day on Saturday, but as soon as I was up, the coffee was going and I was cleaning my place.

Now, I have plenty of time to clean. I could spend time every day doing something. I limit myself to once a week or writer's block. When I'm having trouble hashing out a particular chapter, the closets usually get an overhaul. If I'm avoiding the mess I've made of my character's life, I'll clean up the clutter in the house. A pile of bills will get paid and filed away. Shredding will get done. Dusting, vacuuming, steaming. I keep a clean house now - because I'm one of those "creative" types.

What about you - do you like clutter? Do you abhor it? Clean yourself? Hire someone to do it for you? And do you know where that whole creative = messy thing got started?


  1. You are me. Or, I am you. Same thing. :)

    When I was a kid, my room was so messy it made my mother physically sick to look at it. Thinking back now, how did I stand it? I could never find anything. You couldn't see the carpet. There was crap everywhere.

    Now, it seems like I can't write one word unless things are neat and clean. Messes distract me too much. So, like you, I keep a clean house. I have to, unless I can't write.

    We need somebody to explain to us what this means. Paging Dr. Phil.

  2. I wasn't super messy as a kid, but I didn't mind a bit of mess. Living away from home made me into something of a neat freak: I don't *need* neatness, but I like it. The creatives as messy people probably came about the same way as the creatives as drunks and drug addicts; one guy found it worked for him, others followed, and now it's apparently 'our thing'. Except for all the exceptions.

  3. I'm not super messy, but I have my moments where things get a little cluttered around where I work. I'll have books stacked around me, a coffee cup from a day or two ago still sitting on my desk, my camera for when I need to upload some new photos, my unplugged ipod cord minus the ipod, and it generally takes me awhile to make up my bed. But I still live at home, so I have to keep my room clean because my mother is an absolute neat-freak and she can't stand even a tiny bit of organized chaos.

  4. I think it's a myth - I've always been a clean person.

  5. Hahaha! I was super messy when I was a kid too! My mom wouldn't clean for me, she would threaten me when she got fed up that she was coming in with a garbage bag and everything on the floor was being thrown away. That was our show down. But eventually, by High School, she just let it go as long as I kept it confined to my room. But now I can't stand clutter and mess. It drives me nuts. I hate nick-nacks and junk to be all over the place. Weird...

  6. Man I'm the only one who is still messy. I think its because my mom was a slave driver and made me clean my room, the bathroom, do the dishes and clean the whole house in turns with my sister. I think it repulsed me or something. My house is always a mess and my laundry is never done. I clean once a week on the weekends and then straighten up throughout the week but it still seems like 5 min after the whole house is spotless a tornado passes through. That may be because my hubs is even messier than me, and I have a 6 year old on top. So maybe because I work, cook, do all the laundry, write and play with my 6 year old, the clutter sort of builds up. I always say, if I was a stay at home mom, this place would be spotless. But I may just be kidding myself.

  7. LOL! Recently I've become VERY messy... good to know that's a good thing now! :D <3