Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Organizing and Organic Organization

An example of organic organizing.

Organizing can be the bane of the creative person. We all generate a lot of ideas and with those ideas comes a lot of--stuff. Writers are awash in paper, artists too and musician's and photographer's and film maker's and dancer's lives are overflowing with the tools of their trade.

How to organize? Here's one way that works for a lot of creative people because it is organic. It grows with materials. Which is why daisies are a good example of organic organizing: they cluster. They grow out from the clusters, adding flowers from the central bed.

Organic organizing is putting like with like, associated with associated, clustering the items together. All paint brushes together in cans in a group. All scenes in one w.i.p. in files that are in the same group. All cameras together in one area or box. It's a more relaxed way of organizing that often works for creative people.

One main drawback: like daisies, organic organizing can overrun everything else. By adding and adding the organization can lose all meaning. (In daisies, they get too tight together and begin to die at the center.) So this is a loose and general organizing method than will need "thinning" from time to time.

What do you think? Would this type of organizing work for you? Or just add to the mess? Do you have a system that does work? If so, please share!


Jim Murdoch said...

Organisation is essential to me. As a teenager I was quite messy but it was more to do with not being in control of my space. Now I have total control over my workspace. I started with an empty room and moved on from there. It's an enviable position to be in but one thing my wife and I decided when we bought this flat was that we would each have our own office and it would be organised to our own tastes. They're two very different rooms despite containing essentially the same things. The way I organise in general is an organic process: I sit in a chair and work and when I need something, a stapler for example, I stretch out my arm and where my arm extends to I place a stapler. Eventually that place begins to accumulate other items and so I have to prioritise and some of the items have to get moved to secondary places. Over time a practical, if not perfect, workspace evolves. For a long time my computer programming books were on the shelf behind me. Currently my Beckett collection sits there but I may well change that.

Conda Douglas said...

Interesting, Jim, how you've evolved your own style of organic organizing, particular to your tastes. I really like how, as with other forms of organic organizing, you shift with the flow (daisies growing towards the sun!).

Dave King said...

Organisation is important to me, too, though I doubt my wife would agree, for it tends to look untidy. Stuff I use frquently has to be visible. I never thought of it as organic - and I doubt it is. The basis of is the mathematical idea of sets. Things can be related to each other in a host of different ways, so if you think of it this way yu can change the organisation at the drop of a hat.

Swubird said...


Great post, as always.

I am a person who has a lot of trouble with organization, or, I should have said, effective organization. I do well on material things like pencils, paper, books, etc., but when it comes to my story ideas - I'm a mess.

I try to carry a small notebook with me at all times, but I often forget it. So I find myself writing ideas down in the margins of books I'm reading, little slivers of paper from my wallet, or post-its. A month or so later I may find one of them and write it up. Most of the others, however, get lost in the shuffle. Do you have any suggestions for a write and forget organizer like me?

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Dave, it sounds like you do "cluster organize" and yes, it can "look messy" but if it works--hey, it works.

Conda Douglas said...

Hey Swu--great question! I think every writer is overflowing with ideas and bits of paper!

One tip that works pretty well: have a "idea file" and dump all those scraps of paper into it often (like every night).

But the notes you write in the margins of the books you're reading...good grief, Swu!I don't know what to do with those-tear out those pages and add to the file? Hm--hard on books!

The Muse said...

All I can say is I'm working on organizing it...One day, I'll get it all together.

You've seen from my posts I have a lot of eggs in my basket. Once I get them all sized up and distributed I'll be okay.

I hope you have a super weekend!

Conda Douglas said...

Great metaphor, muse! And from your posts I also know it's a really big, really full basket!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Organization is a continual battle for me. Because I too often forget where I've filed something, I find the best solution is the largest category: cars, blog, product warranties, whatever.
As to my office, unfortunately, the entire space seems to be one category: whatever.

Conda Douglas said...

Love your sense of humor, Kathy--and what's wrong with a "whatever" file? Okay, maybe it will be the only file you have...