I literally looked from this post down at my desk and was instantly sad. I cleared it only last night?? Or was it the day before?

@lj_writes this was one of the few relaxing things at bootcamp: You have very limited stuff and everything has a designated place.

@ze4os Oh yes, that tantalizing feeling that if you could juuuust get the stuff down to a manageable level it would all be so easier? Turns out it's true, and environments with limited stuff get that part down for you.


@lj_writes That is not a mess.

Spend some time looking for pictures of writers' desks / offices.


@dredmorbius that's exactly why I have a small desk, buy few books, and refuse to accumulate stuff around my workspace 😂 and yet this just.... happens


@lj_writes Given what I've seen of the working practices of good writers, there's a choice:

- Clean desk


- Good writing.

The choice isn't a hard one for me.


@dredmorbius More power to you! A bigger mess would just be more distraction for me so 🤷 we all do what works for us.


@lj_writes My struggle tends more towards those who want to think that the methods that work for me don't work for me.

Which is a rather tedious argument to be having.

Most especially when you don't want to be having an argument.

Which is a way of saying "do what works for you".

But also: Do. What. Works. For. You.

As in: don't think you've got to live up to some Imposed Standard, or what someone else expects or would prefer you do.

(Space alien cats included.)


@dredmorbius I have no more desire to argue than you do, and I don't believe I ever said your method wouldn't work for you--only that it wouldn't work for *me*. I can't entirely rule out that my reaction is based on internalized social standards, of course, but that doesn't make my distress and distraction any less real. Also it's kinda ironic of you to tell me I can't be a good writer if I clean my desk and then tell me I shouldn't try to live up to imposed standards? 🤔


@lj_writes Sorry, that wasn't aimed at you, it was a commentary on my own real-world experience, and meant to be supportive.

I get people asking (repeatedly, same discussions) why I work specific ways, or that "but what is it usefulf or" annoying-as-hell question, or telling me they have aproblem with my organisation (within my own dedicated space).

Or worst of all: reorganising my research and study materials without asking or telling. There's a tremendous amount of spatial context lost.


@lj_writes All of which typically occurs when I'm in the middle of thinking through something, or preparing to get something done and discovering I have to spend minutes, or hours, or days, trying to relocate things which have moved.

Again: the specifics concern my methods.

But the generalisable concept is that *if you have something that works for you*, then By God Just Do It That Way.

The notion that there's some One True Way To Organise All Cognitive Effort is simply false.


@lj_writes So *that* is the takeaway.

Back to writers: there's that infamous question "when do you write?", which turns up in interviews and lectures.

I've noticed two general trends:

1. Specific habits vary tremendously.

2. But the common element is *some level of control.*

That is: writers and creatives tend to operate best when they can determine their working conditions. Sometimes more successfully than others. But living up to an imposed standard: generally not.


@lj_writes The bit about messy desks (or offices) -> better writing ... don't take it too much deeply, though I think it has something to do generally with the ability to reference and arrange ideas. A sufficient workspace and mine helps. Whether or not that translates to a cluttered physical space may be optional. And I'm still talking too much about it.


@lj_writes Mostly though, what I was trying to say (and am probably still failing at) is: you be you.

Lord knows I understand what it is to be fighting myself, my nature, my limitations AND having crap heaped on by others -- whether in my physical space or over the Net. I was TRYING to convey that, and back off my initial prescriptives, though I don't think I managed.

So: I'm sorry.

I was unclear.

Do what works for you.

Don't feel obliged to meet anyones standards, least of all mine.


@dredmorbius No, I think it's a really important subject, near and dear to any of us who do artistic/reconstitutive work. As I wrote in a spinoff thread, it would be fine if I had decided, like you, that X level of clutter is acceptable and the level I work best at--it's the gap between my intention and my reality that gets me. But you have reminded me of what's important, that control over my workspace is the thing and not having a spotless desk in of itself.


@lj_writes That link that I made with you in a DM chat between agency and stress has *really* been resonating with me over the past week or two.

Stress really seems to me to be a lack of effective control (that is, agency) over an environment, whether due to external forces (obligations, environment) or internal (physical, psychological, illness/injury limitations).

This makes me wonder what human adaptations (personal and social) are really about reasserting agency _or_ acceptance.


@lj_writes Another thought is that my sense of agency differs strongly when I'm:

- Dealing with others (-)
- Dealing with institutions. (---)
- Working at cognitive tasks (+/-, depending)
- Engaged in a physical task (+)
- Exercising (++)
- Play (+++)

(Very rough indication of positive or negative agency involved.)

Drugs, meditation, prayer, etc., might be added to the list.

I've been wondering at the importance of play *in all animals*, possibly psychologically: an agency role here?


@lj_writes There's also that state of operating _just within_ bounds of control -- musicians, dancers, athletes, extreme-sports fans, etc., all do this.

It's a wonderful place to be, if you can get there -- _just_ within the limits of your capability, flirting with danger or disaster (with consequences ranging from disappointment or embarassment to injury or death).

And there seems to be a real drive for that, among many.

It's wired into our psychology, by evolution.



@dredmorbius I mean the neurological answer to that would be the reward centers of our brains, dopamine, norepinephrine rush and so on.


@lj_writes Sure.

Not sure I've discussed this w/ you before, but the realisation that emotions and behaviours generally have a strong evolutionary component hit me a few years back. Darwin wrote a book about the emotional link:

Since we see _play_ in so many species (mammals, birds, possibly others) that _also_ seems likely to have an evolutionary benefit.

I don't have answers. Interesting question though. And I suspect stress & learning apply.


@dredmorbius There's a lot of research on the benefits of play, too, particularly as a pedagogical tool for young animals (including humans) but I think there's more to it, including adult play and play to relieve stress and regain agency as you say.


@lj_writes Adult play strikes me as different, but frequently involves games of chance and skill (cards, dice, bowling, horseshoes), various forms of practice, also music and art -- "poetics", in the sense of creating something, Gr. "poiein"

Also arguably crafts, collection, gardening, possibly pets (who play themselves, including w/ people).



@lj_writes "mine" here == mine of information / references / sources / data / inspirations, to be clear.


@lj_writes I'm glad you can't see my desk...

@lj_writes hahahaha i thank goodness i totally dont relate at all whew close one whew whew

i dont do my homework in my room anymore

@applejuice Omg those piles 😂😢😭 why do we all live in the same room...

@lj_writes the thing that gets me is i obviously have 2 book piles....and then 2 books just randomly out there. im not even reading those yet. nothing distinguishes them so as to be differentiated from the others

@applejuice Our spaces reflect the lack of organizing principle in our brains, it seems. I look around at the chaos and wonder, "What was I *thinking*?" and of course, I wasn't. At least, not in any conscious and controlled way.

@lj_writes yeah same. like often times I will barely even remember moving something, if I remember at all. it's like I'm playing hide and seek with my past and future selves lol

@applejuice This is exactly how I feel 😂😂😂 it's like I'm sectioned off across time having to play guessing games with past me while trying to smoothe things (often unsucessfully) for future me.

mh mention 

@lj_writes oh my god i just looked around me and literally every flat and level surface is covered in things. top of dresser, top of fridge, floor ... everything


well i think this might be the depression in part too

mh mention 

@applejuice The piling and surface crowding are so common for ADHD people, it gets a mention in the book Driven to Distraction. The depression wouldn't help, either, I'm sorry to hear :(

mh mention 

@lj_writes is ok, i tend to be pretty happy, just a lot of other symptoms of depression. lack of energy and 16 hour naps and loss of interest in activities and such. but i'm a pretty happy hopeful person. :blobcatsmile:

i should read that book! it helps me to conceptualize what might be borne of ADHD and what is :thonking:

mh mention 

@applejuice I highly recommend it! It's a bit old, like mid-90s, so some of the facts are outdated like men having 3 times the incidence of ADHD as women which I think has since been found not to be the case. It also has a chapter on comorbid or masking symptoms, with a section on depression which may be of help.

@lj_writes at my mom's i had a huge corner desk that was twice the size of a regular desk and it was always full of stuff ><

@lj_writes ....... *stares at own desk that got tidied up this monday and is already... ALREADY... starting to spread out over it again...* ...oh fuck

@lj_writes adhd is hell and way more hell than us adhd folks actually even realise half the time

@Nine we don't pay enough attention to realize how hellish it is 😂

@Nine @lj_writes Sometimes I have moments where I look back on my life and wonder how it took three and a half decades for someone to diagnose me.

This this is one of those moments.

@EleventhOcean @lj_writes I got diagnosed when I was a teenager. I forget exactly, but I was definitely in secondary school...

and I still didn't know HALF the shit I know about being ADHD as I do now.

@Nine @EleventhOcean I got diagnosed this month, at 40 😂 In my case low social awareness of ADHD, being a high-achieving student (albeit one known to be scatterbrained, disorganized, and a social misfit) and female, and basically hiding from the job market by accumulating higher degrees throughout adulthood helped mask it.

@lj_writes gubbins,,,,,

look you never know when i might need these three pairs of scissors and this glue stick and also this pen and THIS pen and th

@pupy I wish I even had justifications like that 😂 for me it's more like, "huh, who knew we owned so much Post-It and it's all on my desk somehow." (Having a young child probably doesn't help in this regard.)

@lj_writes my one justification is just "Its my gubbins, I've got to have my gubbins"

and then when questioned on an item I just respond with the name of the item but in a kind of sleepy happy voice like "glue stick,,,,"

@pupy hopefully it's effective in getting ppl to back off 👍

@lj_writes yeeeep. This is so me. 😅
It always drives my partner up the walls. 😅

@lj_writes I *think* I might have some form of ADHD and my being in that picture isn’t helping disconfirm that diagnosis.

@Stephen_Stone This was how I started out. I knew there was *something* going on, and then I started seeing myself in SO many ADHD pictures the more I researched, and here I am with a brand-new diagnosis. If finding out about ADHD feels like someone is telling your life story from childhood onward and possibly some family history as well, it may be worth it to get evaluated just to be sure.

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