Embrace the Chaos

While writing with the SIX yesterday, Bree Despain was saying how revision is like surgery. It can take an hour to remove a single sentence or paragraph because of the ripple effect—the facts those sentences established for the rest of the novel have to be erased from every other page.

I love, love, LOVE revision—so much more than first drafts. Having something to rearrange and shape is a lot more exciting to me than creation ex nihilo. But the ripple effect does make my head spin. For the next week, I’ve given myself permission to blow up my current draft, and then I’ll pick up the pieces and line them all up again later. Some of those pieces might get lost under the couch, and that’s probably a good thing.

This article about creativity in the workplace encouraged me:

“One of the problems with creativity is that it tends to be chaotic and messy. It grows in a non-linear fashion, like an unruly visitor in the controlled environment of the boardroom. We need to learn to shift our thinking, to work with chaos, because we can no longer avoid it. Chaos is part of the cycle of transition and thus transformation. Embedded in chaos are the clues to a higher order.”

My next post will be everything I’ve learned so far about revision. I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot more in the next few days—when theory turns into practice. I’ll let my five readers know how it goes! 🙂



Filed under Revising

8 responses to “Embrace the Chaos

  1. That’s an incredible quote about creativity. I love that. Thank you! I can’t wait to hear your take on revision.

    • Kim Reid

      “My” take on revision will be an amalgamation of every bit of advice I’ve received from about 10 different sources lately. Hopefully they fit together nicely.

  2. Revising is awesome. So is this blog post.

  3. Yes, great quote. And it’s so true that this makes everything so daunting. Right now the first 2/3 of my novel (what I’ve revised) does not match the final third any more. It’s rough, but it’s getting better. Good luck to you!

    • Kim Reid

      And to you, Nikki! It will all fit together in the end.

      I’m thinking on my next round I should take the Bree Despain approach and buy about 15 binders, 10 packages of highlighters and sticky notes, and analyze the draft layer by layer. But my printer is currently out of ink so I’ll just keep revising chaotically for now.

  4. Jenilyn

    I love the quote! I makes me feel better about my writing process, which is absolute chaos, and I often feel like the only one who doesn’t sit down and have perfection tapping out of my fingertips.