Chaos and Writing

Last year, I turned my life upside down.

It was my year of the Saturn Return, complete with major upheavals, epiphanies and chaos.

During that year, I quit my job, broke my apartment lease, launched my business, ran a fundraising campaign, traipsed through the Southwest on a solo three-week trip, surrendered myself to a 10-day silent meditation retreat, published my short story, and began healing my broken relationship with my family.


In July 2015, I packed up my belongings into cardboard boxes and left them at my friend’s basement. By July 2016, I had lived in fifteen different homes, carrying my red suitcase and a tote bag wherever I went.

Can you feel the chaos?

All through it, I kept writing.

I kept my hand moving, letting the words tumble out of me, letting the chaos exist on the page.

(I stopped writing for a month. I will share a post about knowing when to get up from your writing table and when to work through that creative block called procrastination.)

I wrote in the guest house of a friend’s place, amidst big bins of thick socks, stuffed animals and throw pillows stacked around the bed.  The serene face of Buddha would stare at me from one of the turmeric-colored walls.

I wrote out the chaos in my notebook.

In Taos, New Mexico, I sat by a high school football field, a bicycle chained to the fence surrounding it. As the heat bore down on me, I hunched over my notebook and wrote about the shivering cold of the desert night just the day before, the full moon staring down at me at the parking lot of a youth hostel. It was the same moon that I had tried to sight with a group of travelers, binoculars in hand, a few hours before but couldn’t–the blood moon kept swimming in the billowing smoke of a forest fire. I wrote about reading Allen Ginsberg’s Howl out loud to a stranger that night, a bottle of whiskey between us, and not knowing that I was teetering on the edge of a heartbreak that was soon to follow.

I wrote out the chaos in my notebook.

I would make myself an arugula salad with clementine slices, olive oil, salt and pepper, not knowing where my home will be the next week.

I wrote out the chaos in my notebook.

I moved in with my parents for a few months. I slept in the same room that I shared with my two sisters in my adolescent years, the same room that was haunted with memories. I could still make out the smudges of the lime green paint from years ago, a thick coat of robin blue painted over it now. It was the same apartment, yet not the same; I was the same person, yet not the same.

I wrote out the chaos in my notebook.

During this whole experience, I learned so much about chaos and creativity.

Here is the thing: Life is a messy, chaotic process. So is writing.

If you want to write, begin from the chaos.

Don’t deny it.

Let the chaos unlock parts of you that you would not have access to otherwise.

Write through the chaos. Write from the chaos. Write to the chaos.

Make sense of the chaos in your life through your writing.

Don’t wait for the perfect time, space or financial situation to write.

It took me a long time to realize that it is never a good time to write, no place is the perfect place to write, and no amount of money in my bank account is the right amount to start writing.

I can choose to write from exactly where I am.

Let your writing cave be wherever you are. Let the words on the page become the measure of your time. Lay the words down one at a time and create the place that you can inhabit through your writing.

Write in cemeteries. Under a blossoming tree. Beneath the sky. On a roof top. At a bus depot. In the heart of midnight. Write when you have money in your bank account, and when you do not.

Write through the chaos. Write from the chaos. Write to the chaos.

Let clarity rise from the chaos.

Friedrich Nietzsche says, “one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Stay with the chaos in your writing. From the chaos, give birth to a dancing star.


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