Writing is Messy


Personally, I like thinking I can organize every single detail of my writing. I love the idea of outlining. I love the idea of knowing exactly which word to place in front of another. Realistically, I’m a big fail on that. First, because I’m a pantser. Second, because no matter what, writing can be a messy business.

Sure, it starts with a simple idea. Sounds innocent. Sounds doable. Right? But then you have all those other fragments of ideas doing jumping jacks in your head. And they won’t stop until you agree that they, too, should be part of that great story you have brewing. You decide you have a knack for making difficult things work anyway. So why not give it a try?

You start off excited.
You can rule the written world.
No one can stop you now.

. . . Then you find yourself in a situation that looks suspiciously like you’re sitting on the floor with a couple boxes of confetti. And you are the one person in charge of gluing the pieces that make sense together. That is exactly what writing is like. You shake all the little pieces of paper with random words. You put them in order. You put the ones that didn’t make the cut into a box labeled “next time.” You re-order the ones that were left on the floor next to you. And you take deep breaths in between. Then suddenly . . .

That disorder is the miracle you end up calling your new novel.

You may only have had a few pages that were out of order. Or you may have needed few boxes of confetti. But I bet the first glance you had at your work might have scared you just a little bit. But you made a rough outline, a draft or ten, and then a novel out of the mess. I just find it amazing how we can create such order from the chaos that we put ourselves through. And it’s even more amazing how, after we’ve polished it up, no one sees the delicate seams or the glue holding our world together. They just see a novel.

So if you’re a bit stressed that nothing is making sense at the moment, don’t panic just yet. It will all come together soon enough.


S. Katherine Anthony


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