How to Write (Better): Painting With Words

7 years ago

Brightly colored flower painted on a wall

June was the month I was going to kick it into gear and pull my new book WRINKLE together. I've done countless proposals up to this point. I know how to tell a story, create an effective arc, find eye-catching art and design a package people have to read. Don't necessarily buy, but read for sure. I used to love proposals -– it was almost a hobby at one point. But, those were for books far lighter than this one.

Now that I've dug myself in deeper, the proposal has to reflect that. Most of my projects so far were concept- and art-driven: stewardesses, beauty queens, thank you notes. While the text was important and the research imperative, words took second place to images.

FLOW changed that.

FLOW changed me.

I can't really do light anymore. But I'm having so much trouble diving into this.

I'm in the middle of a guest blog post about me and writing and as I've been telling the story I realized that now, for the first time in this long journey, I think of myself as a writer. Words come first. It's getting more comfortable, natural to paint a picture without literally using pictures.

That was just a light bulb moment.

Usually, my first proposal step is finding art. I search Ebay, scour the picture library in midtown, search ad access and their fabulous archives. The images swirl around in my head until I feel ready to tie them together into a story, and I'm never quite sure what the story's going to be until I'm deep into it. I have a general sense -— I'm great at one- to two-sentence synopses or explaining my ideas over a cup of coffee -- but writing first isn't the way I've worked in the past.

It's the way I have to work now.

And it's terrifying. Paralyzing. I don't know where, or how, to start.

After all I've done, I'm back at the beginning again. Reinventing myself. Putting on a new hat. Stepping off a cliff into the unknown, not sure I can handle this.

Not sure I want to be here.

But I know, deep down, that if I don't jump in, I'll always wonder what if.

For more writing advice, visit our How to Write (Better) series archive.

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