Puzzles: Outline First or Middle – Out

Our family has a tradition to start a puzzle during the holidays. It’s a bit more difficult on a boat as we only have one flat surface in which to work, eat and socialize. Plus, there’s all those pesky little pieces to get lost and REALLY never found until they clog the bilge pumps and you really don’t want that to happen.

Okay, back to my point. Puzzles for the holidays give family and guests a venue to gather around when life gets awkward, or you’re waiting on the straggling guest to arrive so you can open those all important packages. Regardless, it’s an excuse to accomplish something and socialize as well.

The Captain and I got our one and only puzzle out of storage and put it together while at anchor over the Christmas weekend. It wasn’t your typical puzzle, it didn’t have any outline I could decipher before putting it together. Let me tell you, I like outlines.

I like outlines for our boat, I like outlines for life and I definitely like outlines for a puzzle. This one stretched my comfort zone immensely. Despite everything we persevered and over several days accomplished the cutest 500 piece puzzle you ever saw.

But if I can do this and live on an unpredictable sailboat, I guess I don’t need the outlines in my life quite so much.

As we contemplate the end of one year and the beginning of another, I tend to re-evaluate my goals that I’ve worked so hard to put into place. This puzzle reminds me that though I’ll still tend toward outlines, I can accomplish so much if I work at random angles to a project.

So, tell me, are you an outliner, or random? How do you deal with life when you must outline, or live in the middle, outside your comfort zone?

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About Nancy J Nicholson

Nancy J. Nicholson is a wife, mother, writer, and full-time sailor, writing of her adventures and creating contemporary mysteries along the shores of the eastern United States and Caribbean. She fills her time with new friends, exploration, food, knitting and reading.
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16 Responses to Puzzles: Outline First or Middle – Out

  1. Tameri says:

    I love this post and the metaphor to life! That puzzle is absolutely adorable and, like you, I want an outline ~ some construct in which to place the rest of the puzzle. We’ve put together some 3D puzzles before and they were challenging, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Perhaps now is a good time to think of those puzzles and my own life. Live a little without the borders all set up and ready to contain me.

    Your life on the sailboat always amazes me. Thanks!

  2. Nancy…you need one of those mats you can assemble a puzzle on, then roll it up in a tube and set it aside when you need a table! I’m an outliner as well, but really, just for puzzles. The rest of it is pretty free-flow!

  3. I’m an outliner for puzzles, no question. Everything else? A pantser all the way!

  4. Emma Burcart says:

    I think I would say that I am random because I can be pretty spontaneous. But, the truth is I like the safety of an outline. I think that is why I have made safe choices my entire life, even while saying I was being a daredevil. What a great post! I need to try and find the sweet spot between no planning and living from an outline. I am going to try to work at random angles of the project and focus on smaller pieces for a while. Good insight.

  5. Love the puzzle…so adorable and what a great analogy for life, eh?! Sounds like you guys are having a wonderful holiday…
    I am a total planner and outline person. Although plans often go askew and I adjust as I go but I like having a light at the end of the tunnel and something to strive towards.
    Happy New Year!!!

  6. Dannie Hill says:

    I make a great outline and about 5 minutes into it I’m off to another place and time but the outline does stay in the back of my head and reappears from time to time. I envy thoses like you, Nancy, who can follow a plan and just tweat it a bit. It’s the best way to travel on a boat and maybe even through life.

    Great post!

  7. Carol Roe says:

    Cute puzzle and looks to be complete with no missing peices. When we had cats there would ALWAYS be a missing peice or two. :) I do like my outlines. A plan to go by. Not that I have always been able to stay the course. Like Natalie say’s something to strive for. Hugs….

    • Carol, with at least a plan to shoot for we’ll probably always hit at least part of it. It’s better than no plan at all. I secretly believe those who don’t outline are deluding themselves and really do have some sort of plan, they’re just in denial. I know too many of them who accomplish great things. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  8. What a great puzzle, Nancy. I’m a lot like you in that I prefer those outlines, but sometimes must just work from the inside out. Ack!

    Happy New Year!

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