Did you know that chaos is a natural part of the creative process?
What we call chaos is actually creativity in the process of birthing new ordered forms. We can see many examples of the creative process by observing nature. The cycles of birth/death, construction/destruction, order/disorder, and evolution/devolution are all chaotic processes that involve struggle, messiness, excitement, and the promise of something new and better.
Chaos serves creativity in two central ways:
First, it inspires new ideas because it shakes up our norm and infuses it with new experiences, sights, sounds, and feelings. It boosts our creativity, encourages us to think in different ways, and creates a hyper-need for us to express ourselves through our chosen art form. It is an emotional, therapeutic release that works wonders during stressful, unpredictable, times. Creative action helps us to convert frustration to elation for ourselves, and those that get to experience our creative creations.
The second way that chaos serves creativity is that “chaos” is the “messy middle” portion of any creative endeavor. A writer will write several drafts and may have pages with notes scrawled all over them. Wadded up rejected pages will be spewed across the floor where they landed after missing a 2-pointer shot into the wastebasket.
A painter will mix various tints and hues of paint to get the perfect shade and use different palette knives, brushes, and other tools to add texture to their painting. Inevitably, fingers will get paint on them and so will aprons, drop cloths, and many brushes. Being creative is always a messy process regardless of the medium being used.
“Chaos promotes creativity. Orderliness promotes well being. Creating messes in an orderly environment is the key to promote creativity.”
—Jun Wu, writer and technologist
There is a big difference between creating DURING chaos and creating chaos. Creating chaos is a form of addiction. It’s when you consistently create situations in your life that are in constant flux, stressful, and marked by extremism.
If you are tethered to your email, working around the clock, jumping from one idea to another in a frenzied fashion, feeling impatient and stressed, taking on other people’s problems as your own, always running late, and consistently working overtime all the time, then you may be creating unnecessary chaos in your life. This type of chaos does NOT promote creativity. If anything, it dampens it.
The solution is to become more patient, stay in your lane, take up a mindfulness practice like yoga or meditation, unplug from technology, and literally ground yourself by getting your hands and feet in some dirt. Gardening or walking barefoot in your yard is a great way to do this.