Organizing Chaotic Writing

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” ~ Carl Jung

See the above picture? I’m pretty sure that’s what the inside of my head looks like, just bursting with ideas for The Meer series and all of my other hundreds of story ideas (trust me that’s not an exaggeration, I have so many that I lost count). So, you can see how my writing could get a little… chaotic. Yet, one thing that I have to do is write my stories in order. Not doing so would drive me crazy (well, crazier than I already am), or would it?

If any of you are a bit OCD about your writing like I am then you might reject the idea of writing your novel out of chronological order about as fast as you would throw one of those wolf spiders if you discovered it crawling up your pant leg. I used to be the same way. The very thought of writing anything out of chronological order used to make me shudder just as I would have in the above instance. So, throughout Act I of my novel and most of Act II I wrote everything in order. For awhile operating that way worked very well for me, until writer’s block set in. I’d have the ideas in my head yet every time I sat down to write nothing would happen.

Most of the time I couldn’t continue writing the chapter I was on because I had an idea for what would happen in the next chapter or the chapter after that, but my order centered brain wouldn’t allow me to actually write out that scene because chronologically I hadn’t gotten there yet. So I would wait, and wait, and wait. Then after a while the ideas for latter chapters would stop clanging about my head demanding attention and I would be able to pick up where I left off in the story.

For me, doing things that way wasted a lot of time. Once I started writing the end of Act II I decided to take a piece of advice one of my very best friends gave me. When I explained everything about my writer’s block to her she said, “Why don’t you just write them then?”

Having already zoned out, I responded with a very intellectual “Huh?”

To this she rolled her eyes (she was used to my oddities) and explained. “You said that you couldn’t finish writing the chapter you’re on because the idea you have for the very end won’t let you rest, it’s being too loud for you to hear your other thoughts.” 

I nodded dumbly as she continued, wondering what in the world she could possibly be getting at. When she just stared at me I was forced to do another impression of a moron. “So….?” I asked, letting the sentence hang.

That earned me another eye roll, but it was coupled with a smile that said ‘you’re so lucky I’m a patient person’ so I considered it a win. “So, why don’t you just write the ideas that are most prevalent in your head?”

Why don’t I? I couldn’t answer, because why not. I wasn’t getting any writing done anyway, so I decided to try it her way.

Don’t tell her I admitted it but….she was right. It turns out that once you get past the twitchy-eye episode of panic and muttered “I can’t write this out of order I’ll go insane”, it works. So I started writing all the loudest, most attention grabbing ideas in my brain and after I wrote those, I’d go back to where I left off before and write. Genius, I know! I wish I could say I came up with it.

In giving you that whole dramatic spiel, what advice I’m trying to impart is that a little chaos is never a bad thing. Sure, order and technique matter when writing a novel but, should you find yourself shutting down, try to write those scenes already formed in your head that you find yourself watching on repeat over and over. Write the stuff that you’re always thinking about first, then go back and fill in the rest later. It could make your writing life a whole lot easier and a lot more fun.

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