Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How Writing is like Painting My Bathroom

For the past week or so, I've been doing ceiling patching and repair in my bathroom and have just finished painting the whole thing.  It struck me that this project is lot like any of my writing projects:

  • I tend to procrastinate before each step.  I might put off starting the whole project for months.  Once I've started, it's not so bad.
  • Anything structural has to get taken care of first.  Fixing those big holes in the wall, spackling, fixing or sanding trim, all has to be done early.
  • There's a lot of prep.  Picking the color, buying the paint, getting out the drop cloth, taping, removing hardware and light switch covers.
  • The first coat, the primer, is thin, and doesn't at all resemble the final result.  With the walls and trim primed, the whole project doesn't look particularly promising  But without it, the whole thing will end up coming out like crap.
  • Even the main paint takes more than one coat.  Despite the claims on the can, there's no genius paint out there that can get job done in one coat/draft.
  • It takes time.  There are tools you can use to make the job go faster, but there really aren't any shortcuts.  You have to cut in the corners, roll the big spaces, touch up the edges and missed spots.  The whole thing always takes longer than I planned.
  • There's no point trying to judge the result while the paint is still drying.  I have to take a break and come back later.  Only then can I assess where I've missed spots and whether I still need to put on another coat.
  • This is the kind of job that inconveniences everyone in the family a little bit, and it also tends to make the whole house a mess.
  • I will make mistakes.  There will be spots or divots in the drywall, brush marks.  No one else will notice them (unless I point them out).  I'll always know they're there. 
  • The final stages take as long as painting the walls.  There is trim to paint, brushes to wash, and all sorts of final bits of clean up.  But without attention to these details, the project won't ever look right.
  • The result is always a transformation, and usually one of which I'm proud.  (Every once in a while, it turns out that we picked the wrong color or used a bad roller, and the whole thing has to be started over again.  But that's pretty rare.)
Now I need to go put some light switch covers back on.


Libby said...

A far more thorough list then I was expecting and all good points. My favorite is having to fix those holes before you can start to paint.

Patrick Gabridge said...

Thanks, Libby. (This project has taken a while, so I've had lots of time to think about these things.)