Call in the professionals

woman typingI’ve been watching way too much HGTV. The pros come in and, despite unexpected construction challenges and indecisive homeowners, they completely renovate houses in a matter of months. They make perfection look easy.

Inspired, I decided to tackle my bedroom and bath. I’ve pulled down wallpaper, washed and prepped walls, and painted. I’m still working on it.

The output of professional writers often is viewed the same way I view professional painters: How hard can it be? What people don’t see are the years of training and practice that go into perfecting the crafts.

Words don’t just flow from our fingers through the keyboard and onto our screens. Writing is revision. My first sentence or paragraph rarely is the one with which I started. To make the end products read fluidly, to paint vibrant images, to elicit strong emotions, professional writers paint and repaint our computers’ canvases. The more we do it, the better we get, but writing takes a lot of work and concentration and mistakes. Yet, we make it look easy.

My weekly posts, for example, generally take me an hour or so to write. But first I do the prep work. I think about the topic, how I want to approach it and ponder my lede, which I rarely end up using. Once I know the structure, I sit down to write and rewrite. The post often takes an altogether different form than I originally had planned. All that for about 250 words.

Like professional painters – or those in any profession – writers see every flaw in our work when a job is finished. I have yet to pick up a magazine in which one of my articles appears and not want to change a word or reorder a paragraph.

It’s fun – and good for us – to dabble outside our fields, to stretch our capabilities and express ourselves. But there’s a reason why experts are paid what they are. For perfection – or as close as we can get to it, call in the professionals.

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