Carpentry is my day hustle.
Building cabinets, trimming home interiors--that sort of ish.
It's manual labor, yeah, but it's a craft, too.
Lately, I've been thinking of the similarities between carpentry and writing.
Like, okay, I'm always working on stories in my head while I'm at work. (I actually wrote, like, half of Heathenish on out-of-town work trips). It kind of drives me crazy, really, 'cause maybe the last thing I should be thinking while firing two-inch nails at 100 psi, or sliding a sheet of plywood through a table saw, is "ah, shit, that fictional person I've been writing about--the one that spends a lot of time chasing around a serial killer--what if she had a prosthetic leg? Would that give more dimension to her character? How would that change the story?"
The creative side of my brain is cranked way the fuck up when I'm at work, which is inconvenient, but makes sense, because what I do to get that bread--well, it's create stuff.
I'm going to ramble if I don't break this into a list or something (I've gotz teh ADD), so:
8 CARPENTRY TIPS THAT APPLY TO WRITING
1. ROUGH SKETCH: At the back of the shop where I work is stacks on stacks of plywood. Different species of solid wood are separated on racks under my work table (yes, I have a huge-ass work table). Any tool I could need to do my job is inside a drawer or hanging on a wall. But I don't start anything without a drawing. I don't need a 3D rendering, just some lines on paper, some numbers to show dimension, a few short hand notes and I'll go from there. I'm not just going to start screwing shit together, though. And when it comes to writing, yeah, I outline. I take notes. I at least have an idea of what the thing's going to be before I dive into it, with the knowledge that a lot is going to change. Which...
2. EMBRACE CHANGE: All the pieces are cut up and ready to become something, and seeing it all become more physical, taking shape, you think: what if I do it this way instead of that? What if this was a stupid idea after all, and this would make more sense? So. Lines on paper get erased, redrawn. Shit gets cut again in a different way, or simply tossed out, and the product will be better for it.
3. NOBODY CARES: The work is only relevant to the one working. The product is what other people want to see. I've learned to refrain from posting my daily word count to Facebook because it's just as silly as telling all my friends how many screws I put in a cabinet that day. Who the fuck cares? Quit being lame, writers! Be a normal person and post more cat memes! (I'm sorry, the yelling is from a state of exhaustion. Do what you want with your social media. Whatever.)
4. HAVE THICK SKIN: You're a human who makes mistakes. When another human who's made their own share of mistakes and recognizes and points out one of yours, maybe they're not your next sworn nemesis--maybe they're trying to help you out, yeah? Sometimes, though, you're right--they just don't understand your artistic vision, man. The best way to filter out the bullshit from the constructive criticism?
5. KNOW THYSELF: Sometimes, you do things a certain way because it makes sense to you, feels right in your gut. In which case, don't take advice. At least not all of it. Being unique comes from doing things your own way. (Side note: when the fuck did I start writing in second person? I told y'all about that ADD thing. Struggle is real.)
6. GO AT YOUR OWN PACE: You zone out and get all zen with some pink noise in the headphones and just pump that shit out. Or not. Maybe you run into some walls, have to back track, tweak something. Maybe you just like taking it slow. Nobody cares, remember? So, take the time you need. BUT. Put in the goddamn work.
Shit, that was only six. I could go on forever, but, you know... got work in the morning, some other shit to write, I want to drink some more wine and cuddle with my wife, so... I'm outty.