Tidy house, tidy mind?

I’ve been on something of a mission the past few weeks: a mission to finally bring order to the chaos that we live in. Or at least to tidy up the house a bit and make sure everything has a home…

It’s a job that’s been a long time coming. We first moved into this house just over four years ago. Then we had the builders in to renovate from top to bottom which took about a year and a half, with most of our stuff still in boxes and us shifting from room to room as our plans took shape around us.

During that time I was heading up an English department at a school in Plymouth, where Leigh was also based for the first two years of his med school training. Days were long and life was fast, and then I got pregnant: Arthur arrived approximately ten days after the builders finally left, bringing with him all the joy and craziness that accompanies a newborn.

The upshot of which is that, coming up for three years later, there were still boxes of stuff which had not actually been unpacked since we left London. And on top of those were more boxes delivered by my parents when they sold the family home. And one of the reasons none of them had been unpacked was that too many cupboards and drawers were full of I knew not what stuffed haphazardly in on the days when I snatched ten minutes to attempt to tidy up a bit.

And suddenly, having been saying for months that I needed to get on top if it all, I decided enough was enough: as soon as my feet touched the ground after our summer of adventures I was struck by an overwhelming desire to get organised.

And so I have.

I’m not quite there yet, but things are looking so much better: I’ve sorted Arthur’s toys and clothes and found homes for the many he’s grown out of, I’ve unpacked box after box of artefacts from my past, I’ve moved furniture around to make better use of space, I’ve sourced frames for all the pictures that needed them and have finally created the picture walls I’ve been visualising for years.


It’s all been a bit manic, and as much as I’ve been feeling a real sense of achievement I’ve been wondering why – why on earth have I decided now to get my house in order, just at the point when I have possibly the most challenging edit yet of my novel to get my head around?

But I think that’s precisely it.

I’ve never been the tidiest of people (don’t laugh, mum), and it’s never especially bothered me before: I’ve always been pretty good at zoning out the detritus surrounding me to focus on the task in hand. But this time feels different. Maybe it’s the new level of clarity I feel I need to achieve in order to do this draft justice, maybe I’m feeling the pressure of trying to simultaneously be a full-time mum and a successful novelist. Whatever the cause, I’m pretty sure this manuscript is going to turn out a whole lot more polished if it – and I – have space to think and breathe.

I’m trying not to use the tidying thing as a procrastination tool – I am already well underway with this fourth draft, and have been fitting in an hour or two of editing every day at nap time. But yesterday I finished working through the notes I’ve been given by other readers, so this final push now needs to come from me alone.

There’s still a way to go on the mission for a truly tidy house, but my writing room is very nearly sorted. And once it is, there will be no more excuses not to get in the zone and get this novel ship shape too.


Muddled Manuscript

6 thoughts on “Tidy house, tidy mind?

  1. Nicola Young

    Oh I love that wall, it looks amazing. I can understand what you mean about living in a house and not getting around to doing stuff. You move in, intending to, but then you kind of forget about it and live with things the way they are. I have similar ambitions for my house and it involves slimming down the stashes of crap, I mean art work, that the three children have produced over the years. They won’t throw it away, yet they never, ever look at it. Drives me mad!

  2. Rachael

    Your picture wall is beautiful! And I know what you mean about a tidy house. I tidy more than I need to (note tidy, not clean! I should probably clean – or at least dust – more, perhaps we’d be less inviting to the giant spiders my husband is afraid of). I used to think I was procrastinating but now I think of it as a sort of meditation – it’s often a good way for me to get past overwhelm (hmm, there might be a blog post in that)! Anyway, space to think and breathe is always good – sure your writing room will give you more of both (and be beautiful too, if that picture wall is anything to go by)

  3. glasgowdragonfly

    Yes, yes, yes & yes!!! I could have written this post myself. For me, there is most certainly an element of procrastination in domestic bliss as tidy is most definately not my default. But think of it as pre-natal nesting if you will – the cultivation of your new baby – the novel – and all the love and satisfaction that will bring once it’s here! Thanks for sharing – love your feature walls!

  4. maddy@writingbubble

    Fab picture wall! I have to admit I LOVE a tidy house so my cupboards are absolute chaos as as long as things look tidy on the surface I’m happy. For me, if my house is tidy my stress levels drop dramatically – they even drop when walking from a messy room to a tidy one and I find it very hard to work if things are a mess. So this urge to tidy and sort things out makes total sense to me. And now is a good time because you’re also sorting your novel out so the process matches. Soon the novel will be as perfect as that wall! xx

  5. Rebecca Ann Smith

    I prefer everything to be tidy before I start writing – it doesn’t always happen though. At least now you’ve done it you can crack on with the 4th draft (and good luck with that). That wall looks fab.


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