Monday, February 15, 2016

Manuscripts and Jigsaw Puzzles

By Jennifer Goble

For two weeks I cared for my sister who is recovering from Leukemia. We had quality time to do anything or nothing. I wrote, she crocheted, we colored, and I put together a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. 

Besides a stiff neck, the puzzle assembly gave me thinking time. The process from start to finish, of connecting small pieces to form a recognizable object, reminded me of writing. 

Contemplate the similarities: 
  • Choose a puzzle with a picture you like. The same goes for writing topics.
  • Before your start, organize the pieces by straight edge, color, and design. Before writing, organize your thoughts by characters, plot, concept, location, etc.
  • Build straight edge borders first. Books, features, and poems need boundaries too. 
  • Work on one area until you’re stumped, leave it for awhile and come back to it later. Approach writers block the same way. 
  • The beginning and end are often more exciting than the middle.
  • Rely on detail in each piece. Descriptions guide placement of what we write. 
  • Continually check the picture on the box. Reference your favorite author’s style and technique.
  • Don’t force a piece to fit. If an idea is good, it belongs in something you write.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Every project has ups and downs.
  • Take breaks. Pressure and stress will not create a masterful paragraph, chapter, feature, or document.
  • Celebrate when you complete a section of the puzzle. Celebrate completed chapters, articles, deadlines, etc. 
  • Don’t give-up. All puzzle pieces will fit somewhere. Ask for help. Another set of eyes can spot a missing piece. Have someone else read and edit your writing.
  • When finished, you know it, so stop. Everything we write also has an end and an ending.
  • Enjoy and admire the finished product.
  • Remember, not everyone will like it. 
  • Expect some people to criticize your efforts. 
  • Some will admire your skill and tenacity. 

Like a puzzle, writing is a process, and it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every stage can be fun as well as frustrating. Both require a never give up attitude.

Writing, unlike a puzzle, takes creativity, and when you gift it to the world, you share part of your soul.

What activity resembles YOUR writing process?

Until the next time: Live while you live!


April Moore said...

Now I know why I like jigsaw puzzles, too! Great post, Jennifer. (And I hope your sister is recovering well!)

Deborah Nielsen said...

Jigsaw puzzles are addicting. I can be up until 3 o'clock in the morning without realizing it just finding one more piece. Writing till 3 in the morning? Nope. Maybe until 1am if I'm inspired.

My mom and grandmother crocheted and I tried to learn several times. It's not my thing, I've finally decided. I treasure the afghans my mom made for me.

Hope your sister is on the mend.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is a great comparison and is especially applicable to mystery writers. The classic mystery is a puzzle, and the writing of a mystery involves putting all the pieces together in a way that feels logical but makes the reader work hard to solve.

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