Jigsaw Puzzles and Writing

I got into a “flow” the other day while working on a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Hmm…this feels familiar. This is similar to the feeling I can get into when I write—although it’s been a while since I’ve felt it. I get lost in the process. Thinking takes a back seat, and my gut takes over. I didn’t always enjoy jigsaw puzzles. I tried to “think” my way through them as I saw others do.

Edge pieces first—which is helpful to get started, match colors and shapes—do a section at a time. Some of this works for me, and some doesn’t. Finding pieces that fit is addicting. It’s intermittent reinforcement because not every piece fits where it appears to go. 

The feeling of satisfaction when you find pieces that fit and begin to shape a picture is similar to writing. Finding unexpected pieces of the story as I write is an exhilarating surprise. If I can get past overthinking and let the pieces speak to me, I’m absorbed by the picture or the story. What pieces appeal or pop out and grab my attention? I begin to trust myself and go where the pieces take me. I trust they will go somewhere. 

The puzzle slowly comes together, and a piece I thought was part of one thing turns out to fit somewhere else. It’s all there. It’s not obvious at first where every piece goes. You have a picture of the end result, and there are thousands of ways of getting to the full finished product. There’s not one right way to piece it together.

Sometimes walking away and allowing the picture or story to “percolate” helps when I’m stuck. Making a chicken sandwich suddenly loosens the block I’m having with the puzzle or my writing. Showering is another way to clear the pathways. Walking outside helps energize my brain, and I’m on my way.