Puzzles and Writers

I’m rather fond of putting together jigsaw puzzles. This Christmas my friend Sally and I started on a puzzle while she was visiting. She had to leave before it was finished. I’m still working on it, and enjoying even the frustration of dealing with a piece that MUST go in a specific place but of course doesn’t.

So why does the same experience when I’m writing drive me to chocolate?

I’ve thought about this a lot. I love having written, but the process is often so painful I avoid it for days. As I was trying to fit a piece into the puzzle where it clearly didn’t want to go, it suddenly occurred to me that when I’m assembling a jigsaw there is the promise of getting it right. I have a picture to follow that is accurate, and when I’m finished I will be rewarded. That’s not the case with writing. Oh, I have a picture in my head of where I want the story to go, and sometimes even an outline. That doesn’t mean I’ll get it right. My characters, unlike the jigsaw pieces, morph in mid-sentence without permission. The plot that clicked in place like beads on an abacus suddenly loops around into a tangled coil of unconnected events. Even if I can thrash the story into submission, I don’t always get the reward of knowing I got it right when I type The End. Nevertheless, the puzzle of writing is addictive, because one of these days I just know I’m going to solve it.

Luck and wisdom!

Author: Lani Longshore

Quilter, writer, chocoholic, black belt (karate), killer of houseplants, reader of maps (and I still get lost)

3 thoughts on “Puzzles and Writers”

  1. Define what makes your writing “right.” Many authors just use time. Jake Tapper was asked how he managed to write a book and manage his career and family. He said he decided he could write for 15 minutes a day. Keep it simple

    1. Getting it “right” is the assurance that the story is good. With a jigsaw, I know I’m right when all the pieces fit. With my own stories, even if I’m happy with what I wrote there’s still this nagging question of whether the story is good.

  2. I’ve been picking my way through a puzzle my family started over Christmas and had similar thoughts about the writing process. Some days frustration sets in when it takes forever to find a few pieces that fit together. The frustration is same on bad writing days. Other days the pieces slide right in, and I celebrate with a Woohoo! and an “I’m the puzzle master.” I celebrate good writing days too. Here’s to a year filled with good writing days and a plethora of celebrations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: