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Writing a Jigsaw Puzzle

Posted by on November 6, 2014

Last week, I listed seven lessons I’d learned as a new author. Most of them were things I plan to do differently from this point forward. But there was one I learned, particularly from my most recent book, that I intend to apply not only in writing but in other areas of my life as well.

That lesson is to trust God. Period.

For me, writing a book is like putting together a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I start with the edges, the frame. I know how the story begins, and  I try to have a pretty good idea of the end. I may know a few events that will happen in the middle of the story, but I usually can’t see the details until I actually start writing and piecing all the different threads together.

That’s part of the fun of writing—discovering the middle. Except when you have a deadline to meet. Then it’s nerve-wracking, more like starting out on a trip with a destination in mind and a few known landmarks but no real map to show you how to get there.

That’s where I was with my third book, due out next May. I knew the beginning and a couple landmarks, but I didn’t even have a solid destination in mind. The story simply refused to cooperate, refused to come out of hiding until the last minute. I made frantic phone calls and sent desperate emails to my writing friends trying to figure out the best ending and how to fill in the middle. I tossed ideas around with my husband on our evening walks. Worry kept me awake at night and woke me up in the morning. At times, I wanted to dump the whole thing and never write another word. Ever.

From the beginning, I knew this book would only be written with the Lord’s help. I’d experienced His guidance with the previous book, where ideas and events that seemed unrelated suddenly fit together in a way I’d never noticed. At the height of my worrying, the thought occurred to me that He could, and would, do that again. Since He provided the opportunity to have this book published, He would enable me to write it. And since He keeps His word, He would enable me to honor my contract by meeting my deadline. God does know a little about writing a book, after all.

So, I chose to trust Him. I still showed up for work each day and made the best effort I could. And sure enough, little by little, the pieces began to fit together. One morning, the destination became clear, and I found the path through the middle that I’d been seeking. Not only was the book finished on time, but I sent it to my editor four days before the deadline!

Trust. Not in my abilities, but in God and His faithfulness.

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4 Responses to Writing a Jigsaw Puzzle

  1. Janetta

    Thank you for the reminder. He is in control. I’m not on contract to get my book done, but it’s still keeping me awake. Blessing to you and your writing.

  2. juliebcosgrove

    I’m where you were. Contracted for novel three -the first time without even a rough draft, just a synopsis (edges of the puzzle) and a deadline of three months has been tough. You are so very right. God brings it together because, after all above all else we are His scribes. Thanks for this.Looking forward to reading the last “No Evil”.

I welcome your thoughts on this.