Writing Advice…From An Origami Artist | Writer’s Relief

Apr 19, 2023 | Writing Tips

Writing Advice…From An Origami Artist | Writer’s Relief

In the Japanese art of origami, squares of paper are folded into intricate shapes without the use of glue or cutting. These sculptures often use only one sheet of paper, but they can also be modular (made of many origami pieces held in place simply by how well they fit together). In a way, creating a masterpiece using paper is something that writers also strive to accomplish! At Writer’s Relief, we think some tips from an origami artist can help wonderful stories and poetry unfold. Here’s great writing advice and tips from an origami artist.

Writing Advice And Tips From An Origami Artist

Begin with something manageable. The urge to immediately try complex folds can be tempting—who wouldn’t want to deftly create an origami dragon with realistic scales? But sometimes your eyes are bigger than your abilities. Instead of crafting an elegant Smaug, you end up with a wobbly crumpled salamander that can’t stand on its own.

With writing, the same can be true. You may have a big idea in your head, but before jumping straight into a J. R. R. Tolkien-level epic fantasy, develop your writing skills by trying something a bit smaller and simpler, like a short story, flash fiction, or even poetry. Many of the techniques you’ll need for that big project can be learned while working on smaller projects.

Have patience. You select a beautifully patterned sheet of paper and rush to create your crane, mouse, or frog. You’re excited to hold that intricate sculpture in your hand and hear the ooohs and ahhs of your admiring audience! But if you work too quickly, you’ll find yourself making mistakes. When you don’t take the time needed to ensure your lines are straight, any future work relying on an improper fold will be crooked and lopsided. You’ll then have to spend even more time trying to undo all the folds to find exactly where everything went wrong.

If you blast through writing your short story, poem, or book manuscript without taking the time to check your structure or style, your results can be similarly disappointing. Rushing to complete your work without allowing time for proofreading, formatting, editing, and rewriting means your work will be filled with mistakes. And like the impatient origami artist, you’ll have to unfold the many layers of your finished project to find and correct any errors. Know what steps you need to take before you write your first word so you are building on lines that are crisp and clear.

It’s okay to start over. When your origami rabbit keeps tipping over because the ears are top heavy, or your lotus flower looks more like a lotus flop—and no amount of tweaking or fixing helps—it’s time to start over. Take out a clean, fresh piece of paper and begin anew. Accepting your failures and knowing when to put aside a project that isn’t working is a useful skill for origami artists and smart writing advice.

In fact, failing actually has benefits! Sometimes you fail because you stepped outside your comfort zone to try something new, and that’s a good thing! By failing the first time, you might discover something that works better: Maybe a paper fold, scene, or sentence will go more smoothly if you try a different angle.

Like an origami artist, a skilled writer can also create something amazing using paper (or a keyboard), but it takes patience and practice! And when you get a rejection letter, you can fold it into a simple paper airplane or an intricate origami tea plate—and then get back to work on sending out your next group of submissions! The research experts at Writer’s Relief can help by pinpointing the best markets for your writing to boost your odds of getting an acceptance. Learn more and submit your writing sample to our Review Board today!


Question: Which origami tip do you think will help you in writing?