"It's kind of like a puzzle" they say. They say it every time. It's the first thing that comes into their minds when they come across someone building a dry stone wall. I sometimes answer yes without thinking and go back to building. Sometimes I explain that it is, but it isn't.
There is no picture of what it is going to look like. Next thing that occurs to me is that, as much as I sometimes like to think differently about it, the pieces are not specially made or 'preordained' to fit each other. Third, the 'pieces' are heavier three-dimensional chunks of random shaped rocks, not 2d bits of cutout cardboard. Fourth, unlike a puzzle, you can change the shape of the stone pieces, if you need to. Fifth, it can't be like a jig saw puzzle because I hate jigsaw puzzles and I love building dry stone walls. Oh there are so many reasons it's not like a puzzle.
What it is like? It's like a good mystery. An all absorbing treasure hunt perhaps, where there is something going on way more than just fitting shapes together. There is the unraveling of a plot, an expedition into unknown territory where you may get lost along the trail and have trouble finding your way back. And where you come out will sometimes be a very different place than where you started. It's a story that builds on itself, an event that unfolds. A game. A dance.
It's like you pick up the scent and then you don't think about what your doing.
But no, it's not that much like a jigsaw puzzle at all.