Chaos and Order: A Writing and Photo Journaling Exercise

Fall is one of my favorite seasons!

It feels like a time to turn inward; to reflect.

It’s the season when I tend to finish journals, lay off coffee and try new flavors of tea.

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of order and chaos during this season of cozy introspection and I recently brought my reflections to my Artist’s Way Alumni Group.

I want to share the exercises we did with you here so that you can dive into this exploration too!

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Starting Point

When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God. or as Julia Cameron calls God, Good Orderly Direction.

โ€œOne of the clearest signals that something healthy is afoot is the impulse to weed out, sort through and discard old clothes, papers, belongings” (The Artist’s Way, 92). In other words, creativity shows us what we truly care about and what we donโ€™t and helps us bring external order to our new internal identity.

Chaos is not all bad. We need some unknowns and variables. But constant chaos can feel unsettling, like we canโ€™t quite get a footing. This is where having a solid creative routine (even if itโ€™s really simple) can serve us.

When we have a solid creative routine in place, we can deal with runs of chaos and allow ourselves to listen deeply to what serves us and what doesnโ€™t.

From this jumping off point, we used some writing prompts to explore this idea further.

If you would like to try some of the prompts yourself, here they are.

Writing Prompts

What thoughts and reactions emerge when you think about chaos?

What thoughts and reactions emerge when you think about order?

Next, find a new space in your journal, and make two columns.

Under the left column, make a list of things that are chaotic in your life right now.

Under the right column, make a list of things that are in order in your life right now.

Think about a time in your life when you felt truly energized and alive.

What was chaotic and what was constant in this experience?

What might this tell you about your preferences for order or chaos?

After discussing our answers to these questions, we turned to our cameras to use photography as a means to capture images of chaos and order in our lives.

Want to try it?

Photo Journaling

Take your phone out & capture 5 images that represent โ€œorderโ€ to you. You can stay inside, run outside, your choice. I wonโ€™t define โ€œorderโ€ for you. You will define that for yourself in the images you capture.

Next, capture 5 images that represent “chaos” to you. Donโ€™t overthink it. If it enters your mind, capture it!

As we moved out of the session, I invited everyone to take two pictures a day for the next 5-7 days; one to represent order and one to represent chaos. The hope is that a pattern emerges to show us each what order feels/looks like to us and what chaos does as well. Each of our definitions of order and chaos will be completely unique. We are each wired differently and we each have different tolerances for both. Using the camera as a buffer, we can explore this topic without judgment or censorship.

And if you want to take this exercise a step further, you can try playing with the monastic practice of “Visio Divina.”

Visio Divina

I invite you to use the pictures you capture to do a Visio Divina practice.

Look at a chosen picture and go through this process.

What are the first thoughts/emotions /responses that this image evokes in me?

What aspects of the image do I see/feel on closer/longer examination?

Is there anything that this image says to me about a current question of life?

How might this image have an influence on my current view or my belief system?

Which words describe my reaction to this image?

Try these exercises on your own this Fall to reflect and go deeper.

Or, join up with a friend and do the exercise together.

Doing this in community can foster a sense of vulnerability and authenticity!

And if you do try these exercises, please shoot me an email and let me know what the experience is like for you!

I hope these exercises help you reflect on the role of chaos and order in your own life and how you can use an intentional creative routine to find a way to tolerate and even enjoy a bit of each!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

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My โ€œChaos & Orderโ€ Photo Dump
Further reflection through watercolor

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