I figured out the main theme of my book. This is the theme that informs everything. It’s the big “So What?” of the book.
I was talking to my friend about it the other day.
She asked me if I knew the theme when I started writing.
“I haven’t wanted to start my book,” She said, “because I have no idea what the theme is.”
Our conversation reminded me of jigsaw puzzles.
Because I spend a lot of time on them, I’ve learned a few things about jigsaw puzzle strategy.
There’s a a definite sequence to it.
First you’ve got to turn all the puzzle pieces over.
Then you want to batch them by color or pattern.
Next you find the corners.
Then you start working on the outside pieces first.
Then, and only then, do you start filling in the rest.
Of course you don’t have to do it this way. But it will take you a lot longer and you run the risk of never finishing due to boredom or frustration.
Puzzles require patience. You’ve got to enjoy the journey, actually the journey is the whole point. Each time you find a piece that fits you get a hit of satisfaction that keeps the momentum going.
The thing that will get you into trouble and cause a lot of angst is trying to fill in the parts too far from the edges too soon. It will take you a long time to find these pieces, if you ever do, and it won’t be much fun.
I discovered that if you get the order right, the easier those inside pieces will be to find down the road.
This is a great metaphor for writing a book, building a business or any other big thing you want to do that seems TOTALLY overwhelming.
Because a lot of us begin by thinking we need to know things. Know the title, know the theme, know our niche, our target market, the exact “right” way to accomplish whatever it is we want to accomplish.
We pay way too much attention to the end result without finding any joy in the journey. We are in such a hurry to succeed that, ironically, we fizzle out before we even come close (or we never start).
I’m learning how to approach my work as I would a jigsaw puzzle.
I’m learning how to just start with the most OBVIOUS first steps. To turn the puzzle pieces over, group them by color… put the obvious pieces together so the next pieces can reveal themselves to me.
Give it a try…
Sooner or later with a little patience you’ll find yourself sitting in front of a completed puzzle thinking, “damn that was fun,” and wondering which puzzle to tackle next.
“No,” I told my friend. “I had no idea what the theme of the book would be. I just knew I wanted to write it. About sixty thousand words in the theme became obvious and so did the title.”
Have faith my friend. The next piece of the puzzle is going to reveal itself. You just have to get started and remember to enjoy the journey.
Oh the things you will do.