Wednesday, January 08, 2014


Discipline requires order, but creativity requires mess.

A particular kind of mess, but mess nonetheless. All writing -- for that matter -- creative endeavours of all types -- are the product of the tension and cooperation between mess and order ... or if you want to be fancy ... creation and entropy.

Here's a good example. I have a huge folder filled with all sorts of news articles, briefs, scraps of paper with curious words scribbled on them, photos from various magazines, movie and sporting event ticket stubs, you name it. When I feel blocked or drab or bleak, I rummage through the folder. I jumble things up. Could this photo be linked in some way to this ticket stub to that word? Rarely do I glean a complete idea from this mess, but bits float up or drift by.

From this mess, I gain an idea, perhaps for a humor column or a short story. And then order comes in. I figure out the length and the words and what I need to do each day to finish the project.

Once in a while, I have the impulse to organize the folder -- which is actually a couple of boxes now -- but I resist. That mess, those odd juxtapositions, spark creativity.

Perhaps other writers -- you maybe -- are ordered all the time. I admire you. But I will never be you. I will be here in mucking in mess striving to make order out of the drifting ideas.

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