Friday, November 20, 2009

Knitting Through Fear

When I started knitting, it was to keep my hands out of the Doritos bag at night. Hint – nacho cheese dusted fingers and yarn don’t mix.

My knitting bag:

Now it has become a big part of my writing process, and I try to start a new knitting project when I begin a manuscript.

In the beginning, the luxurious skeins of yarn and my fresh idea are ripe with possibility. I can hardly wait to dig into them.

I write a few chapters. I knit some rows. Then fear creeps in.

“Why in the heck did you buy this expensive yarn? You’re just going to mess it up.”

“Why on earth did you sign a contract promising another book? You're just going to mess it up. ”

Next comes doubt.

“I can’t knit a sweater.”

“I can’t write three-hundred pages.”

Even though I’ve done both before.

Despite the fear and doubt, I keep plugging away.

One stitch.

One word.

One row.

One sentence at a time.

When the sweater is looking bad, I get a boost from a well-written scene. When the writing is going awful a perfectly knit sleeve reminds me I can do it.

So anybody else have an outside hobby that aids their writing?


KeVin K. said...

I used to refinish furniture. I was very bad at it, which meant I spent a lot of time sanding mistakes off. I found the careful, methodical activity very relaxing. There was no direct correlation to my writing -- which is why I think it was so effective. It was something to do with my hands and eyes while the story simmered below the surface. We no longer have the space for me to work on old chairs and desks and dressers. I tried to cultivate physical exercise as an alternative -- y'know, do something healthy while I was thinking -- but it just doesn't work.
Maybe I should take up knitting.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Exactly! I should have mentioned I"m a really bad knitter. But that doesn't matter. It's the methodical activity that is somehow very soothing.

Liane Spicer said...

I love this post! That's a smart, wonderful thing to do. Now you've given me an idea - no, not to take up knitting, but to start a parallel project every time I start a writing project. One that uses different muscles.