How to Order Disorder and Foster Creativity

There is one small room in our home that is distinctly mine. It’s right off of our bedroom, and serves as an office, a dressing room, a space for mementos, and a walk-in closet. It’s all mine. And since it’s mine, it’s a place that often gets just a little chaotic…a little out of control…a little disorderly. It’s partially because I’m a busy person. Things just seem to pile up. But it’s also because I don’t discipline myself often enough to bring order out of that chaos.

When I just can’t stand it anymore, I lock myself in that room until I discover order once again. I need order in my life in order (get it?) to create. When my space is messy, my mind is messy.

Anyone can bring order to disorder and so foster creativity by making three commitments. I firmly believe that Genesis 1 teaches us that the most creative Being in the universe created in an orderly fashion, rising up out of the chaos. Read Genesis 1 and you will see the orderly way in which God created the world. God’s creativity is orderly. We are His children, and we glorify Him when we create in an orderly fashion, rising up out of the chaos of this world.

Order disorder in your life, and foster creativity, by committing to:

  1. Keep an orderly space. My secretary, Sherri, provides a wonderful example of this. Every evening before she goes home, she tidies up her desk. When she comes in the next morning it is a clean, open space ready for the onslaught of the day. She disciplines herself to clear her space each night so that she’s immediately ready to create in the morning. I’m learning from her…and trying to get better every day. A clean desk is an open space to begin a creation. It’s inviting creative action. Clean off your desk. Now.
  2. Cultivate an orderly mind. I’m (obviously) not God, so it’s hard for me to create out of the midst of chaos. I need to remove distraction, clear my head, and focus on a topic, creation, or piece of art. When I write I often cultivate an orderly mind by taking a large sheet of paper and creating an outline, overview, or drawing of what I intend to write and where I intend to go. Cultivating an orderly mind, just like keeping an orderly space, is a discipline. The more your practice the better you’ll get.
  3. Take an orderly action. My favorite example of this comes from Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit. Twyla Tharp, world famous choreographer, encourages an action called “chaos and coins.” Simply take a handful of coins, toss them on a table, and look for a pattern. If there is none, create a pattern yourself. Tharp says that this is the essence of creativity: “There are a number of possibilities, but only one solution looks inevitable” (p.109). It’s an orderly warm up for the creative mind. It’s an exercise that helps you “feel more optimistic about resolving disorder” (p.110).

Three simple commitments. One enormous creative boost. Bring order out of chaos and enhance your creativity.

How do you order disorder in order to foster creativity?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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