Everything AND the kitchen sink
So, I’ve recently been indulging in a bit of Do-It-Yourself, primarily because we had been thinking about getting a new kitchen. We’ve been in this house over 8 years now and some of it is looking at bit tatty but, after our friendly local dealer quoted £3.5k just for labour, we thought we could do a lot of it ourselves. So I’ve been building up this week with a few shelves a table and some benches before moving on to “The Big One” – removing the old stainless steel sink and fitting a brand-new shiny ceramic one. Obviously doing a bit of DIY, when you are not a professional takes time and affords you a chance to do a bit of thinking. Whether about your latest screenplay, or just where the hell you left your pliers, there is always something to think about.
And it was about the time that the kitchen looked a bit like this:
that I started thinking about how DIY relates to writing.
There is no one way to write. We all know that… don’t we? In the same way that there was no one way to complete today’s job. Yes there are certain things that need to happen at certain times – I mean, I HAVE to take the old sink out before I can put the new one in but, generally, like a lot of writing, I had an outline plan, but I was making a lot of it up as I went along.
I had all the component parts, the new sink, taps (or faucet – I wasn’t wearing dancing shoes) plenty of pipes, connectors and washers and all the tools that I needed – pliers, spanners, wrench, saws, hammer, screwdriver and drill – but like a new writing project, it was all in disarray, a bit messy and I was sitting there wondering how I was going to get it all to fit; you know, like all those characters, scenes, dialogue and set-pieces you have in your head when you start writing.
However, using my mental plan and after a bit of trial and error, touch and go and trying a few things that didn’t work, before finding the things that did, I found myself with something that was starting to resemble a kitchen sink/script (hopefully you’re getting the gist of this now).
It was at that point, I stepped away from the project for a break and, mostly, to give my aged knees a rest from the cold, hard kitchen floor. There was still a bit of work to do. A bit of plumbing, some sealant, and a small matter of the cupboard doors but I could take my time to get them right, knowing that the main part of my job was done.
Just like writing, if you put in the work to get the foundations right, plan your job and use the right tools, the rest is window-dressing. Details like spell-checking and formatting can come later in the project, once you’ve broken the story and got the main work done. Once you have that back-bone of a story and are happy with that, just hang the doors to make it look great – then you have your perfect ending!
The smarter ones among you will notice that the last image was taken with a flash, which might indicate just how fast my DIY skills are, but also shows how it takes time to do a good job. I could have rushed it, but I doubt the taps would have worked, or perhaps the plumbing would have fallen apart. By taking it slowly, using the right tools and stepping back from time to time, I got through to an end product exactly like I hoped.
And you can do the same with your writing. Chose the right tools for the job, take you time and step back now and again and you’ll do a better job and tell a great story – which, hopefully, won’t be full of plot holes and leak.
Okay, so I admit it, this post is just as much about me showing off that I fitted a sink as it is about writing – I have to get my kicks somewhere – but it is a simple lesson that I hope will sink in.