The secret of artists, writers, and other creative people throughout millennia––whether they are conscious of it or not––is that they know how to collaborate with chaos. Yet, oftentimes it is the very presence of chaos and confusion that leads to fear of failure and instills resistance in us at the very beginning of the creative process. The most oft-cited characteristic of creative people (aside from popularly being thought of as slightly crazy) is their ability to remain open during the rain of uncertainty, to embrace the difficult states of paradox, opposition, and ambiguity that are the gateways of opportunity. Jack Myers
The fact is that within any system of nature, there exists something called, “the strange attractor effect.” It’s akin to that moment in the creative process when we sense something trying to form out of the chaos. Chaos is the feeding ground for the emergence of regular, self-forming, coherent patterning. In other words, form and structure arise naturally from chaos.
So what’s the writer’s job? It’s to be with the chaos until we can find the shape in it. And this, my writing friends, is exactly the point at which many would-be writers throw in the towel. They think, “I can’t stand this confusion a minute longer; it’ll never make sense.”
When at work on a particularly tricky piece, I visit it daily, but only for a few moments. Each time I visit, I jot down anything I sense emerging. Often it’s just fragments, but by staying with the piece and not allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the “not knowing,” the “knowing” becomes clearer and clearer. I am no longer spinning in a whirlpool of possibilities; suddenly, and quite mysteriously, it all makes sense.
How do you navigate the chaos of writing to find your emerging themes?