How Sewing Has Helped…

I have written this week. Honestly. It’s just been snippets, though.

I’ve jotted down pieces of conversations between characters, outlined detailed ideas for the next four chapters, created lists of chapter titles and lists of odd words to use as Actuary vocabulary. I even wrote the first line of my next chapter in a Word document; but I feel like this doesn’t count as writing.

I’ve been procrastinating



guided down a different creative path these last four days.

My daughter, Heather, modeling her mommy-made backpack.

I’ve been sewing. I made my daughter this Vera Bradley look-alike backpack. It’s not quite finished, needing just three more adjustments to be complete, but I am proud of it. It’s the first time I’ve used pre-quilted fabric. I thought my 1960s Wizard was going to struggle under the thickness in some spots; instead, it whipped right through the six layers with no problem.  And the stitches are so classic – not straight, more zigzaggy with each being 1/16 of an inch long. They are visual artistry that makes me smile whenever I admire them.

But what does this have to do with writing? While using my right brain to create that backpack, I was able to mentally work through some of the issues I was having with organizing part of my story. My hands would be occupied pinning pieces together or guiding fabric between my needle plate and the feed dog, but part of my mind was mulling over the flow between chapters ten and eleven. Would I retell the whole party scene from Derek’s perspective or only the parts where he was acting really weird? How much of his secret would he tell Tara? And how would she react?

I caught myself stopping sometimes, the needle hovering above the fabric as I turned from my sewing table to my desk to jot down the scraps of ideas that had woven their way out with the hum of the machine. The simple act of making something kept the gears of inspiration turning for me to get some work done on my novel. And I actually finished chapter nine the night I cut out the pieces for the backpack.

I can no longer view other artistic endeavors as a distraction to my writing; instead, they are a chance for clarity. I can visualize aspects of my manuscript as I follow the steps of other projects, other activities.

And it all works together to make me a better, more consistent writer.

5 Replies to “How Sewing Has Helped…”

  1. I do the same thing when I sew for Alice. I find that putting little dresses together gives my brain the freedom to work on pieces of my novel that have been giving me trouble.

    1. And I’ve seen your Alice dresses; they’re beautiful. Are you able to work out the issues in your novel and get them written down immediately or do you have to wait until the dress is done? I’m a multitasker, doing whatever wins the battle for my attention at that particular moment.

      1. I usually keep a notebook handy so I an jot things down as they come. If I don’t finish a project right away, I can’t concentrate enough to write.

  2. At the risk of revealing that I sometimes drive with only half a brain…I have to admit that driving often works for me the way that sewing has for you. Its really nice how it works out that way, isn’t it?

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