Monday, August 1, 2016

The Process of Painting- Or Writing

So I took a little break from writing to paint the master bathroom, only as I slapped the paint on, I realized that painting and writing are very much alike.

To paint a room/write a book you have to follow the same steps:

1. Set Up The Space.
For the room that's being painted, that means remove furniture, pictures, and other stuff. If you can't remove a piece of furniture, push it into the middle of the room and cover. Vacuum the dust bunnies.

Before you write, you need a designated space. Whether it's the kitchen table, a nook in the basement, or a private office, you need to have a table, all your supplies nearby (laptop, pencils, paper, reference books, etc.) and a comfy chair. Tea and cat optional.

2. Do The Prep Work Before You Start.
In the room, that means sand the walls, spackle holes, caulk gaps around windows and molding.

For the writer, that means Research! Outline!

3. Use The Right Tools.
A cheap paint roller won't give a smooth finish, bargain paint won't last, and using a 1" brush to paint a wall will take forever. Using plastic 'drop cloths' is not smart because paint doesn't dry on plastic so you'll probably step into the drips and track it all over the place anyway. Use a canvas cloth to catch the drips.

When you're a dedicated author, don't use a free word processing program just because it's free, it has to offer the features you need. A paperback thesaurus will give you more information than the one in a word processing program. Cheap pens skip and you'll need a ton of them so get a better grade.

4. Consult The Pros 
You're not an expert on paint; that's okay. That's why there are friendly people at the paint store who can answer questions, point you to what works for your project. Pick their brains. Read a How-To book (Is there a 'Painting for Dummies' book? Always good for learning the basics.)

Just because you wrote poetry or newspaper articles or even have been published, expert advice should always be welcome. Going into a new genre? Get informed. Writer's Digest, a class, a conference worshop- all great venues for sharpening your skills. But just like some schmo in Home Depot, beware of those who hold themselves out to be experts--and aren't. (I've gotten bad advice from people who think they knew more about paint than me.)

5. The First Effort Is Just That- The First
Usually walls should be primed then painted, but with the new paints, it's primer and paint in one so it saves you a step. But don't make the mistake of thinking you'll get away with one coat. Guaranteed there will be 'holes' in the coverage (they're called holidays by pros). Just accept that you'll need a second coat.

Writing is the same. Don't ever think that you write it and you're done. Nuh uh, no way Jose, are you crazy? Unlike painting a room where two coats will work, writing will require multiple reviews, revisions, and rewrites. You'll get a room painted sooner than you'll have a polished manuscript.

6. Stop and Fix the BIG Problems 
You're painting when suddenly you notice that there's a dent in the wall that you somehow missed.  Maybe the color looks way different than you thought and you don't like it, but you're halfway done. The paint isn't going on smoothly. You could keep on painting, but it will be obvious there's a problem. STOP. There's no sense completing the job with such a major flaw. Fix it now before the whole thing gets out of hand, even if it means starting over.

Your plot dead ends. No one like your characters. You're telling, not showing. There could be any number of problems- all you know is that it's not working. Unless you're doing NaNoWriMo, STOP. No sense completing the book with a major flaw. It's easier at this point to analyze the problem, make notes on how to fix it, then fix it.

7. Add The Final Touches 
Now that your room is freshly painted, it's time to add those things that add punch: new pillows, brightly colored drapes, interesting textures on bed, floor, walls. These are the details that add pop.

In a manuscript, the final touches are the title, specific details on setting, character quirks, showing not telling, matching your tenses, substituting action verbs for passive ones. It's the little things like these that give your story a wow factor.

If you think you can't paint a room but you can write a novel, or can paint a room but can't write a novel, you're wrong. You can do both because they follow the same process.

Time to go back to writing; I'm in the middle of prep work for this new project-outlining so I know where the story is going and I can control it. Maybe next week I'll paint the bedroom.

Stay tuned-

(the color of my name above is almost the same color I've done the bathroom- 'young pumpkin')

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