Important Lessons on Writing From My DIY Dollhouse Kit

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

In case you have forgotten, I received a DIY dollhouse kit for my birthday last December. Aside from waiting on a wire to connect the lighting (after which I will glue my roof), it's complete. This adorable project took me about six months to finish. And it taught me powerful lessons on writing I can't wait to share with you all:

  • Slow progress is progress.

Since getting this kit, I spent a little bit of time each weekend completing one of the small little pieces that would encompass my DIY bakeshop. Sometimes it was a shelf. Other times it was gluing together pieces of furniture. Sometimes I would use tweezers to balance a tiny little bead on top of a metal object that would look like a part of the coffeehouse equipment. 

It wasn't fast because it couldn't be. Things needed time to glue and paint needed to dry. And if I rushed it, I know I would have lost patience in the entire process. 

If all you can do is a little bit at a time in your writing work, that is still progress. All the time I took to complete my bakeshop did lead to finished work, even if it took a long time. The same can be said for your writing. There is a finish line, even if it's slow getting there.

  • Perfection is impossible.

I truly believe every writer needs a creative outlet that has nothing to do with writing. One that doesn't include big aspirations. For a while, I used to love creating collages. Well, when I stopped getting magazines, that hobby stopped too. Now it's DIY dollhouses. I love the little furniture pieces and tiny items. And best of all, I get to put it together myself.

Many times when completing this craft, I thought to myself: well, I did the best I could. I didn't beat myself over the head with it and wrack my brain on how to make it perfect. The creative process can't be like that. There isn't perfection in creativity.

The same can be said of writing. As hard as I try, no short story is perfect. I can do my best, but eventually, I need to send it out there in the world. Attempting to achieve perfection isn't possible, in dollhouses or stories.

  • Turns out, there is time for creativity.

I spent a little bit of time each weekend working on this dollhouse. I would normally spend about an hour or an hour and a half on the tiny craft. It wasn't every day. In fact, it wasn't always every weekend. But it was consistent. 

What I realized is that there is time for creative endeavors, no matter how busy you are in life. If I made room for writing the same way I made room for this craft, I would have made a lot of progress. If you don't have time to write, really take a look at what you are leaving time for during your day. It may surprise you how much time you do have to write. 

Somewhere in the dollhouse universe, there is a bakeshop put together by yours truly. The chairs are wobbly, and the decor is slightly uneven and misshapen. The shop is kind of cramped, and there's only one table to sit at. But the coffee is strong, the baked goods are fresh, and everyone is welcome. 

When I remember, I go there in my mind as I write. Imagining myself balancing my notebook on a table that isn't very big and sitting in a seat that is sort of uncomfortable. But what happens there is the most important thing: I write.

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. When she's not hunting down the right word, she's talking to God, reviewing books on her writing blog, watching movies, hanging out with family, and daydreaming. Her work has been featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not, WOW! Women on Writing, The Voices Project, Sky Island Journal, and Arlington Literary Journal. Her poetry was also featured in the anthology, Dear Leader Tales. Read her musings at


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Perfection is the enemy of progress. As someone who is seriously type A, I have to remind myself of this daily. I loved seeing the photos of your bake shop.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Oh my gosh, your bake shop is so cute, Nicole! I'm drooling over that donut and coffee and the bread basket. I can tell you put so much work into it.

You're so right about slow progress! I was listening to a podcast yesterday and the host talked about how he wrote a book very slowly because he was busy with work and kids - only 300 words a day. But in less than a year (or 300 days), he'd finished a 90,000 word novel. I thought, I can write 300 words a day! Now I'm considering it.

Everyone has a different idea of what perfection is, so I have to remind myself that there's no such thing as perfect. :)

Renee Roberson said...

I love this bake shop and that you let yourself get immersed in the construction of it! I agree that writers should also have other creative outlets. I like the "perfection is impossible" part of this post. I've spent too many years not submitting pieces and novels because "they weren't quite ready yet" or I was afraid of making a mistake in my query letter. I have to learn to let perfection go when it comes to writing and creating!

Nicole Pyles said...

Thanks! This was definitely a task that forced me to let go of perfection!

Nicole Pyles said...

That's amazing about that kind of progress! I think we forget how quickly it adds up!

Nicole Pyles said...

Me too! My desire for perfection can really trigger some self doubt.

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