Writing Within Chaos

by Randy Murray on June 13, 2013

Since late April I’ve had workers pounding, sawing, and clomping around the house. My office is mostly a closet and my writing and working space is in total disarray. And yet I work, I write.

How does that work out that way? It’s a break from the sameness. It’s a challenge. It propels me forward.

I think that it’s important for writers of all types to train themselves to write and work regardless of their environment and their current circumstances. Those who have to have things “just right” will very rarely work.

I need to write every day. It’s how I make my living. It’s how I stay sane. Yes, there are some circumstances that make it very difficult to work and write, but it’s not very often that I simply can’t write, at least for a little while, every day.

Here’s what I recommend when circumstances are beyond your control and you need to write:

  1. Accept that the chaos exists. Do not fight it. 
  2. Find the edge of the chaos and make a space there to work. If you can’t find the place of least chaotic activity, place yourself at the center of it and use the energy to drive your work.
  3. Stop, watch, and listen to what’s going on. In this moment try and find the rhythms and motion of where you are. Is it high energy or is it a slow and intense? Let yourself be moved by what is happening, not frustrated by it.
  4. If madness surrounds you, let yourself go a little mad. But instead of growling or shouting in frustration, put it on the page.
  5. Even in the most chaotic environments, there are moments of silence and stillness. Don’t waste these.

And most important: if you cannot do what you absolutely must do, pack up and leave.

Writing is a high impact sport. If you cannot let yourself be moved by what’s going on around you, why are you writing in the first place?

Lewis Carroll knows something about this:

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.”
Writing is madness. We’re all mad here. Embrace it and the chaos that surounds you. Grin like a maniac and pound the keyboard. Have some tea, won’t you?


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