June 15, 2010

Piecing Together the Experience

Some days fall together in a perfect pattern like your favorite jigsaw puzzle. I taught a training class last week in Problem Solving, and I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal experience.

Training classes, when designed well, take several different aspects of a common topic and weave them together into a seamless picture. Each piece of the puzzle fits into another with segments in proximity sharing a common theme.

I’ve taught this class several times. In fact, I designed the class. It identifies participants' learning styles in relation to problem solving, follows the problem solving model using problems identified by the participants, and finishes with a fun, but applicable, activity. The activity allows participants to apply what they've learned as well as using their teamwork, creativity, and communication skills.

What made last week’s class ideal? Simply said, the participants. Training participants fall into three main categories: those willing to be there, absorbing every nugget of information with enthusiasm; those who arrive with little expectations; and those who wish to be elsewhere. Good trainers encourage each participant to find that nugget of information that pulls the pieces of their own personal puzzle together.

My class last week fell into the first category: the willing, enthusiastic ones. All of them! I’ve been training for close to twenty years, so I’m pretty good at creating an encouraging and fun environment, but it’s rare to start the training day with an entire class of positive students. What a gift! All of the pieces fit together so well that we couldn’t even see the lines of the jigsaw puzzle when we finished.

Many of you know that I’m a writer. Writing works the same way. Your puzzle must fit together, each piece connected to another, each piece contributing to the overall theme. This forms the challenge that writers face. Do I have hanging edges that don’t line up with anything? Does this piece contribute anything to my overall story? Are there surprises that make sense once I’m finished? Does the completed picture fit together in seamless precision, so the reader no longer notices the lines between the pieces?

Think of a book that you enjoyed so well that it absorbed you. You sank into the story and lived it. That author designed the perfect, seamless puzzle for you. But the other thing to keep in mind is that, just like training, not every person falls willingly into your story. Some people, because of their interests, will find your book hard to put down while others might read it, but not with the same enthusiasm.

Perfection is hard to find, but the puzzle pieces must always fit together. When your puzzle forms a whole, you are well on the way to finding that audience that recognizes its beauty.

2 comments:

Carole St-Laurent said...

Great post, Barbara. I hope my manuscript, when completed, will give me a clear picture, like those puzzles where you have to look closely to notice all the pieces.

Barbara V. Evers said...

Carole, I know exactly what you mean. I'm hoping that mine includes some of those hidden pictures that you notice after you put it all together.