Recently, as my husband, in-laws, and I were painting our new house, I was thinking about some writing projects I was working on. With a paint brush in hand, I began to notice the similarities between painting a room and composing an essay or article or poem.

To apply a fresh coat to all the walls, we started with the rolling and trimming. In the dining room, my mother-in-law rolled first, leaving the trimming to her husband. I prefer to trim first, cutting in a tight border for maximum rolling. Since I was trimming for my husband, though, he asked for a wider swath of trim pain so as not to get paint on the ceiling or floor. With our various methods, we eventually got paint on the walls, and sometimes, even with the best paint, we had to apply a second coat.

But no matter how skilled we were as painters (and even that is debatable), we still had to do touch ups when we were done. Maybe the roller didn’t cover so well in one spot or maybe the trim paint didn’t reach down far enough to meet the roller in another. Or sometimes there was a nail in the wall and rolling over it created a drip.

Likewise, with writing, a good essay starts with getting the words on the page. So I write, write, and write some more. Covering the page, getting the words down.