On Saturday I went on a basket-weaving workshop. And whilst busy weaving and thrashing, it struck me how creating a willow basket had many similarities to writing. For example, whatever you create from willow must have a solid structure and frame to weave around, in the first place. Without that, the interesting detail of the weave, or the different willows you can use to add extra colour to your creation, simply get lost. They lose their impact.
As I discovered, it’s good to see in your mind’s eye what it is you want to create, but whilst you’re weaving in the extra detail, it’s extremely easy to lose sight of that structure. When weaving with willow, not only do you have to look at the pattern you’re using for your weave, but you have to continuously amend, adjust and cajole your structure, to ensure that you don’t weave it away. Lose this focus and your finished product ends up looking completely different to what you’d originally planned!
I’m just in the process of outlining a new large project. I’ve always done some planning with large projects, but I tend to outline the basic structure first, before diving in with the actual writing. However, with this latest project I’m doing things slightly differently. I’m planning in more detail. It involves several pads of sticky post-it notes and a large cupboard door! As each thought comes to me, I’m jotting it down on a post-it note and then sticking it on my cupboard door, where I think it needs to go.
As I spend more time thinking about this, and adding additional post-it notes, I’ve seen how easy it is to keep my original structure in place. In fact, it’s made it easier to shift things around a bit, to ensure my planned structure retains its shape. If one post-it note influences the outcome of another, I simply move them to their new position. Once I’ve got all of my lose ends identified and tied up, then I’ll have my finished structure, and I can begin writing. It could be argued that the words we write are the weave that holds our structure in place. Whilst the words might look pretty, without that initial structure holding them all together, their impact won’t be as great.
When you next sit down with a writing project (of any size) consider creating a more detailed structure. Be clear what your finished piece should look like, and then compare your finished piece with your intentions. As you can see from the finished basket here, I think I should have concentrated on the structure of my basket a little more! (At least the planning of my next project is going a little better!)