Controlling the Chaos ~ Outside the Margins with Brigham Vaughn

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Brigham Vaughn goes Outside the Margins today.


There is, I think, a stereotype that authors—and other creative types—are unorganized. That somehow their creativity spills out into their environment and that they work best that way. While I’m sure that’s true for many people, I’m the complete opposite.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize how much I value visual harmony and beauty. I can’t focus well when my environment is chaotic and unorganized.

About a year after I began working at the hospital, my manager’s assistant—we’ll call her T—went on maternity leave. While she was gone, I filled in. I remember my manager chuckling about how different T and I were. There was a lot of paperwork involved in the job and I had to tidy before I started every new task and at the end of every day. T was apparently a bit of a tornado when she worked, with papers everywhere and Post-It notes stuck to every available surface. It worked for her; she always knew where everything was and seemed to thrive on the chaos, but that kind of environment made me feel panicked and forgetful.

In addition to wanting things to be organized, I also like them to look pretty. No matter how functional my space is, I don’t quite feel content until it looks nice too. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, but it has to work well and look nice or I feel restless.  My parents have a beautiful home, but living in a place that isn’t mine is frustrating. Plus, I’m trying very hard to budget and spend wisely so I can move out as soon as possible.

Which meant I had to get creative and use what I already had.

My writing space (tucked in the bay window of my bedroom) is where I spend most of my time during the day.


My desk was something I found on the side of the road a few years ago. My ex and I stripped and refinished it and it’s worked beautifully since. The top drawer became a keyboard/mouse tray and there’s plenty of room for two monitors, a docking station, speakers, my laptop, and a couple of decorative items. I have a few candles, some pretty rocks I’ve collected over the years, and a box that holds the lip balm and hand lotion I use throughout the day. My planner sits on top of the desk during the day so I can jot down ideas.

Oh, and of course, there’s room for my coffee mug and bottle of water.


The little stand to the left of my desk is something I inherited from my grandma. It was in rough shape, with at least four coats of paint and no back. My dad has a fully-stocked workshop and with his help, I sanded the piece, filled in the nicks and dings with wood filler, built a back, and painted the whole thing a nice charcoal grey. The knobs (which had been black painted wood before) got a quick spritz of gold spray paint.

For such a small piece of furniture, it’s very functional. It works perfectly to hold office supplies and all of my organizing tools (you can see those more closely in my January post). It even holds my camera so if I catch a glimpse of something pretty out the window I can grab it and take a quick photo. There’s room for recycling underneath it, and the two Kraft paper boxes hold cards and ticket stubs that I like to hold on to (but like to keep organized). The metal baskets all came from Target’s dollar section and got a few coats of gold spray paint too.

I am incredibly pleased with the way it all turned out. It makes me smile every time I walk into my room and see it. My grandma loved to paint and refinish furniture too and I know she would love that I found a way to spruce it up and make it useful.


To the right of my desk is the music stand my dad made me when I began playing flute in middle school. I used it for six years and, unfortunately, it has been gathering dust ever since. It turned out to be the perfect place to keep my picture frame wipe off board that organizes my daily/weekly tasks. I’ve tweaked them a little since I created them in January, but all I had to do was print out a new version and slip it into the frame to update it.

While I was working full time, I trained myself to write anywhere. I wrote in cars, in the cafeteria, and on my work computer. I can write in the middle of chaos and clutter if I have to. But every morning when I pull back my chair so I can get to work I feel a sense of mental calm wash over me. My future is rather blurry these days. I don’t know how long I’ll stay here or if I’ll be able to support myself with my writing. It’s both wonderful and terrifying to have my future be so vague. Having control over the space around me makes the uncertainty a little more manageable.

I spend my days delving into the recesses of my mind. It’s filled with pictures and ideas and words and characters. It’s a wild mess of tangled thoughts and plot ideas and things I’ve learned over the years. To tame that chaos in my head I want a clean, restful space where I can bring them forth in a semi-orderly fashion.

Creativity—at least to me—is finding a way to organize ideas and bring them into the world. We each have a different way of doing that, however.

I’d love to know what your work environment is like, whether you’re a writer or a not. Do you thrive in chaos? Does uncluttered minimalism make your heart sing? Does it matter what the space around you looks like?

How does your creativity impact the world around you?

~Brigham Vaughn

About Brigham Vaughn

Brigham Vaughn has always been a voracious reader with her own stories to tell. After many years of abandoned plots, something finally clicked. Now she’s eating, sleeping, and breathing writing and is excited to have finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. In the little time that isn’t spent writing or reading, she loves cooking, yoga, photography, and remodeling her ninety-year-old home. Brigham lives in Michigan with her three cats and an amazing husband who has always been her biggest champion.

Contact Brigham:
Twitter: @AuthorBVaughn

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

This post may contain affiliate links.
Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews.  The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.

2 thoughts on “Controlling the Chaos ~ Outside the Margins with Brigham Vaughn

  1. Great post. I love the insights and the furniture. I’m nowhere near as organised myself, but I do see its appeal. 🙂

Leave a Reply