One of the interesting things about homeschooling my kids is watching them create. They tend to pull or dump everything out, then slowly piece parts together and create order. The creating is in the refining of the mess they have made into a tower, or a collage. They can look at a mess of a pile and extract the bits they need to make something coherent.
This also seems to be how I make things. Everything gets dumped onto a page and sorted out. With art that is often taking pictures, doing tests of colors and techniques, and then doodling several possibly unrelated things before I get to what I wanted to make. Sometimes, I just make a mess to see what I get out of it. And then I go back and do more to it, pull out order in my mess.
Order from the mess.
With writing, I find the first draft easy. It is a dump of thoughts and images and all the florid prose I love to write. I love descriptions. I love painting a picture with words. It is a vivid, and sometimes nonsensical mess – the equivalent to a box of blocks dumped on the floor.
I am not a planner. I don’t outline, I don’t write character sketches or compile files about every place mentioned. This sometimes bites me in the backside when I finally do research, and find out the best setting for my book is in a place I have never been and know nothing about. Or that the law is nothing like what I just wrote about, and it completely tanks the whole plot. Mostly, though, it lets me avoid the block of having to research something before I write about it. It lets me pick the right blocks out of the mess and build my tower.
Sometimes, it leaves me with a big, fat mess on the floor and no idea where to start cleaning it up. Each part intersects with the whole in a way that it will create more mess if I pick up the one bit, and make more of a mess. One of my stories is proving to be like that. It is a lovely, vivid puddle of paint, but if I move the paper or add anything else, it will turn to mud. With painting, you can sometimes just leave that bright pool of color and it works. With writing, that is often not enough to make it enjoyable to read, or interesting.
My children currently have a pile of blocks, magnet tiles, and glass gems piled on the light box. Every once in a while they will wander by, move or extract something, and walk away again. Each move creates a new picture, effortlessly altering the mess to be something beautiful. I envy the ease and fluidity of their creation.
How do you create? Are you an outliner and planner? Or are you a mess maker?