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The Art of a Creative Mess

March 22, 2010

A creative mess. It really speaks to you, doesn’t it? Artists, whether painters, musicians, or writers, have been known to be a bit out of whack.

As in totally crazy.

Take a look at Mozart. Think of all the completely ridiculous hairdos you see in pictures and the demented paintings painted by men who had lost touch with reality before realizing that reality made more sense and didn’t drive them insane. Honestly, how many of us have heard of artists of whatever sort cutting their own ears off or drinking themselves to the point of no return?

Obviously, you don’t have to be a freak or shunned by society to be an artist, or a writer. I think the tendency to be a bit messy and eccentric gives us character. Who cares that you blew your post-it note budget last month? Who cares that you have pinned so many “Note to Self”s on the wall that your family members have begun to play connect-the-dots? If you must, you must. Total or semi disorder might simply be your thing. Perhaps it’s “freeing”. Maybe it gets you in a creative mindset. So go ahead and make a collage out of post-its worthy of the Louvre.

Eventually, you might reach the point that the people who are stuck living in the same house as you ask you to close your bedroom/office/writing room door when you have company, but that’s OK, too.

I’ve been thinking more intensely about my next writing project, although I’m still trying to remain focused on my WIP. On my list of things to buy for the next project (which has a much more complicated plot) are markers and an enormous pad of paper; the kind that third grade teachers have and put on easels. I intend to completely assault that pad of paper. It’s going to be crying for mercy and I’m going to continue to draw arrows until it bleeds (and, as a pad of paper doesn’t typically bleed or emit excrement at all, that’s going to take a lot of bludgeoning). I’m going to make a creative, plotting, note-taking mess out of it.

I’m not ashamed to confess that I will murder a pad of paper. If you are plotting the murder of or have murdered office utensils, do not worry. It’s their fate. They are aiding us in our writing endeavors. They’re dying for a good cause.

I’m also going to purchase a bulletin board (which I’ll cover with brown fabric) for the wall behind my desk. I’ve constricted myself to a certain number of pins on that wall, and those pins are feeling the pressure. Literally. I have more than five pieces of paper being held up by some of them. Some of those pieces of paper have random notes scribbled on them that have no connection whatsoever to whatever it is printed on the paper. Here are some examples:

“Half-shredded paper”

“The secret to success: pick up pennies”

“What gave you that impression?”


“Say it and mean it. Cold.”

And believe it or not, most of those are writing ideas/prompts. I mean, in and of themselves, they’re random words, but they’re connected to other thoughts in my head that are connected to ideas that are connected to prompts. All except the “The secret to success: pick up pennies” line, which was something my cousin said that I considered noteworthy.

Also tacked to that wall are papers such as my “Character Prompt Sheet” (that I love) and my “Writing Steps” (that I never use). There’s also a paper filled with cover options for a book project of mine that my cousin (the one who knows the secret to success) drew. That wall is a collage of ideas, memories, and things that may someday spark ground-breaking storylines. The worry that I’ll mark up the wall is constricting my creative juices, so I’m going to solve that problem. Let nothing dam the flow of said creative juices. That river of multi-colored, disconnected, sometimes-crazy ideas makes you a writer. Let it flow freely, even if that means you have to blow twenty dollars at the craft store. Go for it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Torrie permalink
    May 2, 2010 12:45 PM

    Bee!!! I’m so in love with your website that I’m preparing my engagement speech to it. Honestly, this is so fantastic. I agree wholeheartedly on this post in particular– and am relieved to know that I’m not nearly as much of a lunatic as I thought. I write loads of little notes, sometimes just words, sometimes lyrics from a song, etc. just like that! I call them ‘scraps’ or “tidbits’ and I have journals full and a drawer or two of them on post-its, but mostly on receipt paper from the place I used to work at. If anyone else looked at them, they’d have absolutely no idea what they were, as they only make sense in my twisted mess of a head. Wht’s weird is that while I’m a mess in general, and my room somehow can’t stay clean as when it is, I can’t find anything, I can also be really obsessive when certain things are out of order.
    It’s sensational that you’ve finished a first draft of a novel. I am in complete admiration of your tenacity and, of course, follow-through. Congratulations! I’m so awful at that, even after I’ve plotted the whole thing through. I constantly start and then abandon novels part-way. Awful!
    And I laughed aloud in one of your more recent blog posts where you said that ‘writer’ is synonymous with ‘sadist’ because that’s more than a little true.

  2. March 22, 2010 7:57 PM

    That is exactly what my writing prompts look like: seemingly mindless babble, nonsense to others but a gold mine for me. I believe a mess is the sign of a true artist/creative person. You should see my room, but that is nothing compared to my friend who is a musical prodigy’s room. You can’t even walk in there.

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