Does Clutter Drive Creativity?

Hey, we thought it was porn that was the guiding light in all things creative. (Especially on the interwebs.) But Kristen Fischer sees it differently:

monkey-biz-tvwriter.comby Kristen Fischer

Last month, I dismanted my desk. I took the entire top shelving unit off, which was full to the brim with everything from bills and stamps to CDs and paper clips.Call it a feng shui movement or plain-old boredom, but all the clutter was driving me crazy. So I stripped the junk, put most of it away and went with the standard monitor on desk. (Okay, there’s also a lamp, phone and picture of my dead cat.)

I am a neat person for the most part, but I know many creatives that thrive in their messes. Apparently, some people work better that way–and a new study confirms it.

“Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” say researchers led by the University of Minnesota’s Kathleen Vohs. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”

Woah, Vohs. I’m not quite sure about that. Being self-employed isn’t playing it safe. Taking new risks with projects and types of writing definitely puts me out of my comfort zone.

If you read about her experiments, they don’t involve actually working or running a creative business in a cluttered mess. She just proves in one of the studies, for example, that people with ping pong balls were more creative with them in a cluttered room. Makes sense.

Like most studies, I take this one with a grain of salt yet still thought it worthy of a blog post. Some of us like the clutter. The mess aids us. It stimulates us. For many, it’s damn inspiring.

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