Finishing a book can make anyone crazy. Moods swing wildly -- This is great! This sucks! I have no idea if this is good or not! Nobody in their right mind would read this drivel! This one might be my break-out novel! Why am I in this business again?
And then one's ideas get weird. Yesterday, while trying to decide if my protagonist Amy would or would not say the dialogue I just typed in (and why at this point in the novel don't I KNOW?), I had a great insight: Writing a novel is just like doing sudoku.
With sudoku, one's person's easy puzzle is another's terrible challenge. With writing, one person's subject matter is another's guaranteed failure.
With sudoku, a lot depends on where you start. If you happen to fill in certain key numbers early on, the whole puzzle is easier. With a story, much depends on where you start. Too early and it lacks tension, too late and you struggle to fill in backstory without resorting to expository lumps.
With sudoku, there comes a point where you find the one number that makes all the rest obvious -- usually about 2/3 of the way through the puzzle. For me that's exactly how writing works, since I don't plot beforehand. For both, it's the AHA! moment.
With sudoku, slow and steady solves the problem -- race too fast and I end up with two "8s" in the same square. With writing, the novel comes out best with a steady accumulation of pages each and every day, rather than frenetic marathon sessions punctuated by idleness.
Of course, there are differences -- sudoku really could use more plot. But -- wait! I just realized how writing is actually like growing squash! Yes! You see--