Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | September 27, 2016

Rough draft for house projects

I’ve been in my house for almost ten months now, and recently came into a situation during house projects that required some good writing advice to get me through.

I had been trying to finish up the office, making it into a study as much as possible, and ran into an aggravating obstacle during painting. I was trying to paint the bookshelves a dark brown, when I realized (too late) that I should have put some sort of primer on them first. The surface of the bookshelves were made of some oily substance that would not absorb the brown paint I was applying to it. You can imagine the scene that I admit is comical to me now: me painting the same spot over and over, looking at it, painting it again, cursing at it, then getting messy with the paint.

I had assumed that the bookshelves would be the easiest of the projects and had planned much more to get done at that time. My saving moment of sanity was the thought that I should just get through a rough, first coat, and just concede that I would have to make several coats. It was difficult to adhere to this strategy, because my inclination was to paint it until I covered the old color. I just kept saying to myself, “go into rough draft mode and keep moving.”

I can’t get rid of frustration quickly, even though I saw that a decent amount of paint was staying on the shelves. The fact was that I didn’t know if two coats would be enough, and if I needed to add a sealant afterwards, etc. Still, the fact that I thought to myself the words “rough draft” more than “first coat” was telling.

As I settled down and finished the rest of the shelves (there are six sets of shelves), I thought of how the rough draft strategy would apply to the rest of the house, considering that I usually like to do things all at once, and as such, don’t always get things done as much as I’d like.

At this time, the shelves in the study are done and the books are on them. The books aren’t perfectly arranged, because I think that if I were going to do that I’d still be doing them now. As it is, by going with a “just get them on the shelves and out of the boxes” strategy, I got more done in the room overall. I satisfied myself with the thought of rearranging books in my study would be a nice project for an autumn or wintry day (after all my house projects are done).

Get into rough draft mode. Not just for writing. 🙂

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