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Ten Ways Writing is Like Painting

If you follow me on Facebook, you’re aware that I have spent the past month painting the rooms in my house. It is hard physical work. Writing is hard mental work. As I pondered with brush in hand, the following similarities occurred to me.

1. If you don’t do the preparation in the beginning, you’ll be doing a lot of cleaning up at the end. You can paint without dropcloths and taping, but you’ll be touching up and scrubbing the floor for days at the end of the project when you’re exhausted.

2. There is no substitute for the right tools. Painting with the wrong brush or paint will make you crazy and you won’t be happy with the outcome. Writing without the right tools can make you equally cranky.

3. You learn by doing. The first room I painted wasn’t my best, nor was the first book. The more rooms I painted, the better I got. You pick up little tricks of the trade and things that make the process go smoother. Every room you paint, or book you write, makes you that much better.

4. The first coat always looks awful. There may be paint that covers in one coat, but I have yet to encounter it. The first draft will never be perfect either. Count on revisions then editing then proofreading.

5. Touch-up will always be required. No matter how well you prepare or outline, drips happen or the tape pulls the paint off the trim. By the time you’re done with the room, you’re so sick of working on it your mind automatically blocks out the drips and splatters. If you can step away for a day or so, you’ll spot the problem areas easier.

6. It helps to have someone else look at it. When you’re covered in paint and you’ve spent days going up and down a ladder, the last thing you want to hear is, “Hey, you missed a spot.” Don’t turn the paint can over the critic’s head. If you missed a spot, don your paint clothes again, get on the ladder, and fix it. 

7. You can paint a room any color you like, as long as you’re not trying to sell your house. If you like purple walls and hot pink trim, go for it. Just realize that other people might not agree with your color choices. If a buyer sees purple walls and pink trim, they might walk away from the challenge of painting over them. 

8. Know when to stop touching up. You can drive yourself insane touching up the wall then the trim then the wall in search of that perfect straight line. There will always be miniscule imperfections. Put the brush down. 

9. Visitors will have their own opinions. Your color choices might not be to everyone’s taste. If you’re happy with the results, that’s all that matters. It’s your room. Don't let other people's preferences ruin your satisfaction with your work because others will approve of your artistic choices.

10. Take a moment to step back and admire the finished product before starting the next room. You need the break.

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