I hate clutter. In my house, if something gets in my way enough, I have to either find a place for it or get rid of it before I take it out into the backyard and set fire to it. My house doesn’t have to be perfectly organized*, it doesn’t have to be spotlessly clean, but it does have to be fucking functional.
I feel like there’s a mental analogue to this: mental clutter, if you will. My head is organized kind of like a house. Though, given the size and confusing byways when I picture it, a labyrinth is more likely. In all those rooms and corridors there are Things. Household Things and errands go in the hall. Family Things in the parlour. Writing Things in the massive, conflicting maze of offices, which twist around each other and have secret passages and background music and some kind of fucking monster-thing that lives in the ceiling.**
But the Brain House is just like the Real Life House: leave it alone long enough and stuff…drifts. Old glasses end up on the coffee table, a file folder of tax stuff in the dining room, a half-knitted sock next to the computer. Maybe I left it there on my way to do something else. Or, and this is an increasingly probable theory, maybe it moves itself when I’m not looking.
Periodically, the Brain House becomes cluttered with bits and pieces of leftover projects, half-formed ideas, incomplete paintings, unfulfilled obligations, and all the other assorted mental detritus that accumulates upstairs. And so, periodically, I have to clean it out.
Which is what I did last week. I took a week off from new obligations and got through some of the backlog and put everything back where it belongs. And, while I was at it, I took the time to clean out some old thoughts, some old habits, some pieces of mental garbage that no longer served a purpose. Bad writing habits included.
So now I start again, in a freshly cleaned Brain House. All the surfaces sparkling. All ready for new projects and new ideas, without having to worry about tripping over some junk left from the last project, or some half-formed stillborn piece of shit I no longer want to work on.
It feels good.
So, tell me, fellow idea wranglers, what sort of state do you think your Brain House is in? Anything up there that can go? Anything that’s just taking up space and slowing you down? Some misconceptions, maybe? Something that needs to go back to the Idea Maturation Chamber for a few rounds? Or just some bad fucking habits that have never been reevaluated and exposed for the expired, useless pieces of mental garbage they are?
Take some time; clean the toys out of your attic. You might just find space you never knew you had. And once you find that space, you’ll be surprised at how big you can think.
*Though that helps.
**I call him Bentley.