Bad Metaphor Monday: Writing a Book is Like Crocheting a Blanket

imageThere’s a blanket on my bed I made seven years ago.  When I started it, I didn’t really know what it was going to wind up looking like.  I experimented with different colors and made a plan–the results of which I was very pleased.  It was fun to watch the blanket come together, and I can still see that learning/growing part of myself tangled in its threads.

When you’re learning to do something and you have passion for the subject, you breathe life into your work.  Put a few years into something, and you risk losing touch with that creative spark–that is–if you don’t make an effort to approach what you are doing from a new angle and keep an open mind.

Case in point, I decided to put together another granny square blanket.  Having completed the first blanket, I thought it would be a snap.  I planned it all ahead of time–picking the yarn and drawing a diagram.  There was no room left for experimentation, and though this blanket I’m piecing together now isn’t ugly…it’s not alive.  Perhaps I should’ve ditched the granny squares or blankets altogether and made–I don’t know–a wicked awesome hat with one of those giant pom-poms to smack me in the face when I walked down the street.  That, although dumb, would’ve been more exciting.

The same principle applies to writing.  Writers each have their own “process,” but if the book I’m writing now is any indication, that process needs to be flexible.  It would be nice to be able to plan everything out ahead of time, but I’m sure that is seldom the case with even the most seasoned authors.  I go through a long developing stage before I sit down to actually draft, but even then I find myself changing, changing, changing.

“Wouldn’t it be better if…”

“This part isn’t working…”

“Oh, I know.  I’ll…”

“Cat!  Get off the keyboard!”

Every new book is a new baby, and it’s our job as writers to give that baby what it needs.  My current baby would rather set fire to my scene cards than use them.  She coos when I begin writing off track into something completely different and, incidentally, better.  Hmm.

Michelle Joyce Bond

P.S.  My apologies for the second bad, cliché, book-is-a-baby metaphor.  Can’t help myself. 🙂

By the way writers, how is your book baby coming along?  Is he/she being fussy or is everything coming together as planned?

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24 thoughts on “Bad Metaphor Monday: Writing a Book is Like Crocheting a Blanket

  1. This is the first book I have plotted with an outline. Although I deviate from it a bit when needed, I am staying better organized. It still poops, cries and spits up.

  2. I extensively plan my book out before I start the official first draft, too, but I’m always open to changes and they frequently happen. Like you, I look for ways to make each scene better. Sometimes I go in a whole new direction. If so, it’s easier for me to change at the outlining stage than after the first draft is written.

    • Agreed–it’s much better to make changes at the outline stage. It’s kind of like playing chess (bonus bad metaphor!) in that I’m trying to see several moves ahead. “Wait–this will work better.” That’s part of my problem though with this particular WIP. I get through a scene…and it make me want to change several things about the next thing which sets off a domino effect (bonus, BONUS bad metaphor) where I’m tempted to make changes all through my scene cards. I guess it’s all for the better though. 🙂

  3. I have a weird way of doing stories that may or may not explain why my baby throws shiny things out of her crib that I chase after like a puppy and forget about the baby until she requires a change, though I’m probably just negligent. I suppose outlining her feeding schedule could help.

    Keeping with the analogy: I find parenting (writing) difficult when every friend and relative rewires my head to do everything else. It’s almost like they want me to forget that I have to a baby…

    Hopefully, I can stick to my goal of having my baby walking in toddler shoes by the end of June.

    Go go Stubborn Determination!

    • Thanks. 🙂 First drafts of my books are also chock-full of metaphors and similes…most of which need to go, lol. One of these days, I have to write a post that features a metaphor about deleting metaphors. Hmmm…

  4. You know… I’ve never planned on writing anything. I have a vague idea of what I want. Usually I know the first chapter and the last chapter… the rest is a mystery to me. I’ve seen the stuff JK Rowling and the like use to make their stories… I dunno, it just isn’t me at all.

    I like to write and let the characters do their thing. I need to throw up on the page. I can make it cohesive afetrward, that’s what editing is for.

    Then again, I haven’t been published so what do I know?

    • The each his own! Extreme structure wouldn’t fit me either. I have a general planning process, but every book has its own needs and forces me to change up what I do. I write like you’re saying sometimes–I get these vivid scenes in my head and construct a plot to support them. Sometimes, weirdly, I find the book outgrows those scenes, and I wind up with something new and better than what I started with. 🙂

  5. I think this is a great metaphor! Put too much thought, calculate too much, edit too much and you squash your beautiful creation before it has the chance to bloom. You asked if any of us girls at GnG wrote, and well I have. I had started two books years back; had two fledgling novels. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t allow myself leniency. I would write, then go back and change, change, change. Before I knew it, my story had lost all flavor. It was as flat and lacked the substance it originally had. In the end I couldn’t even recognize it anymore and so that flame of inspiration I had was snuffed out.

    It’s been years and I’ve entertained the idea of writing, but it never felt quite right at the time. Perhaps soon or not. 🙂 For now, blogging and the blogging community is my outlet for writing. Who knows, maybe you’ll see a short story or story idea pop up. If that does happen, I’d love for your input.

    Again, good metaphor.

    – Britney

    • Totally–try it out again! Something that works well for me is starting just brainstorming in notebooks. Even after I have an outline, I draft in notebooks because the computer makes me feel like I’m setting things in stone and oh-my-gosh-this-had-better-be-perfect! The first draft needs to flow out of me in my horrible, serial-killer style handwriting. With your history, I have the feeling that once you got the ball rolling, it would just fly down the mountain (bad, bad metaphor). 🙂 But seriously, try it!

      • I’m so glad that someone else starts with handwritten jibberish. (Not that yours is jibberish, but mine can be.) When I have access to the easy editing provided by all this wonderful technology, I turn into this editing monster! Handwriting it makes it harder for me to go back and so it lets my creativity flow better. Does that make sense? I’m not a looney, I swear. 🙂

        Thanks for the advice! I can feel the itch already. 😉

        PS: Hilarious metaphor.

        – Britney

      • It makes total sense. 🙂 Plus, I can’t remember where I read this, but I think terrible handwriting is a sign of creativity and/or a mind that moves too quickly for the hand.

  6. Mine had a major sulk a couple of months ago and has gone into hibernation, I shall be prodding it awake, when I have got the previous one more fully on the road to publication. Hey, these metaphors are liberating!

  7. It is very temperamental and I’m inclined to believe that it is writing itself. I’m inclined to think a punch in the face would do wonders for getting it and me, to settle down.

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