Cataloging The Chaos

Hands up if you know a creative person who is disorganised, dishevelled and is the physical embodiment of Chaos Theory.

Hands up if YOU are a creative person who is disorganised, dishevelled and the physical embodiment of Chaos Theory.

Do you have multiple projects in various states of completion? Do you jump from one project to the next without finishing the first?

Creative people tend to have that aura of brilliance dropping from their shadows like scraps from the table as mere mortals pick at the morsels to feed themselves. I know a few of them.

But they are hopeless in some areas. Usually in the mundane things that matter, like paying the bills on time or wearing pants when going outside.

The myth of the creative genius (sometimes bordering on insanity) gallivanting around a studio or workspace when the Muse strikes them has been perpetuated over time and needs to be dumped in the bin like a pair of underpants with no elastic and holes in all the wrong places.

Because it creates the impression that creativity is something you wait for. People new to creative endeavours wait for the spark of inspiration to fire up the synapses to create brilliance.

And there are times when creativity is like that.

But not usually.

Most of the time creativity is focused, hard work.

  • Creativity is productive.
  • Creativity requires diligent focus.
  • Creativity is the result of time dedicated to producing work.

This is my own organisational tendencies showing, but the more I read about authors’ work habits and talk to people about their creative processes, they have found a process that works.

Their time is allocated, set aside. They have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals to achieve. From the simplicity of 500 or 2000 words a day, to draft time lines, publication dates and commencement dates for new projects.

Inspiration and creativity can strike at any time, often in the quiet moments when you’re doing something mundane and your brain has a chance to sift through the bits and pieces and put them into an order that makes sense.

It’s not about the physical space where you create. How you use your space is a personal choice. It may be neat and tidy or ramshackle or a museum to kitsch.

It’s about how you approach your creative flow and output. Too few ideas and you pause, waiting for something else to pop up. Too many ideas and you stall for want of knowing which thing to start first.

Chaos can be organised.

Chaos can be catalogued.

Lack of organisation is not an excuse for lack of creative output.

Get organised.

  • Make a list.
  • Fill in a spreadsheet.
  • Colour code a timetable.
  • Alphabetise your books.
  • Sharpen all the pencils.
  • Write down all your ideas in a notebook.

Catalogue your chaos.

ADDENDUM: Jodi has written a fantastic post detailing how she deals with the practicalities of organising the chaos. Click here.

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4 responses to “Cataloging The Chaos

  1. I’m creative but I have a mind like Spock. Does that mean I shouldn’t exist?

    • There is great creativity in logic. It also means you get stuff done. I don’t buy into the “creative madness” thing. I believe creativity should be celebrated by everyone in their own way.
      To make a career out of it requires discipline and focus, not the whim of a (non-existent) Muse.

  2. Pingback: How I Catalogue the Chaos | 1000 Pieces of Blue Sky

  3. You put my compulsive list making skills into a completely new focus… and even spawned a blog post! http://jodicleghorn.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/how-i-catalogue-the-chaos/

    Icy – this make me think of a mate of mine – he’s a chemical engineer and an awesome musician. I think opposites (or perceived opposites) don’t have to be mutually exclusive of each other, I think in a lot of ways they compliment each other. I love to dream big, but I’m just as happy caught in the microcosm of sentence.

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