Before Your Write a Book, Knit a Sweater

Posted on Aug 20, 2017

Before Your Write a Book, Knit a Sweater

Somewhere there is a quote that I just can’t seem to find about how if you want to write a novel, first knit a sweater.

I can’t recall who said this and can’t seem to find it on the internet, but I do well remember reading and understanding its meaning. If you are a knitter, you already understand the quote. Knitting anything requires patience and the absolute willingness to go back and tear out or discard your work to correct a mistake you never saw till 50 rows later. If you don’t tear back, that mistake, whether big or small, will always bother you. When you look at your work, it seems like all you can see. When I first started to knit, this frustrated me unbelievably, and I had to tear out a lot of rows because I made a lot of mistakes I am still not a skilled knitter but I am willing to tear out rows and even start over again because the alternative — a visibly flawed sweater — is for me just no alternative at all

But the quote really stuck with me for other reasons as well. It is an exceptional reminder that all knitters and writers alike must go back on occasion, rewrite sections, endings, opening chapters or any place where their earlier writing, plot line, characters or other elements of their writing just doesn’t seem to work as it originally seemed to when created.

I often have writers tell me, “But I don’t want to write that again/don’t want to re-do that section/remove that theme or character or plot twist.” But like knitting mistakes, you leave these flaws in your work most often to your detriment, and ultimately it may impact the entire creation. It is completely normal and expected that writers fall in love with their work and their words so that very quickly they lose all perspective. Part of this results from the digital age of creating and saving on the computer; in days past, sitting at a typewriter, you would have been surrounded by crumpled, discarded paper, not in love with what you have written and tossed away. Ask yourself how you will feel about a missed opportunity to make your work even better, especially looking back later. Most writers who stubbornly dig in and resist suggested changes later express an enormous amount of regret in hindsight. If their writing were a sweater, it would likely be hanging in the closet or folded up in a drawer, because the knitter/writer really didn’t feel great about what he/she created, especially knowing it could have made it better, or right!

If you recognize yourself in this article, well….you know what to do!

Copyright 2017, Satiama Writers Resource

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