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As I’m getting back into the swing of things in regards to my art, I’m realizing another similarity between writing and drawing I don’t think I mentioned before.

Pretty much the process of getting a piece of art down and the process of getting a story down is pretty much the same.

For art, you first start with a sketch. You block out the shapes without any details, the outlines of the main masses and their locations in the composition.

For writing, it’s the same thing. Before you actually get to writing—in my opinion, this goes for whether you are a pantser or planner—you need to block out your story. It might just be an idea in your head, or a few scenes, maybe a theme. Then you have a few characters, a rough sketch of a world, and a loose picture of the beginning and perhaps, if you’re lucky, an end.

You could write this sketch down, or keep it in your head.

Next, it’s the same for both practices. You start to define the shapes more. You add more detail to the character: who they are, their motivations, their appearance and personality. The beginning and middle or end begins to take shape. The same goes for the setting.

Usually it’s around here where I start writing and things just seem to work out from there. Then it’s all about erasing, fixing things and adding details, the same in drawing and painting.

Just like with art, might get too boggled down with the details and forget about the composition as a whole. If the drawing isn’t perfect before you paint over it, it’s not going to look right and it’ll take much longer to fix.

It’s the same with writing.

If you don’t have a well-developed plan either on paper or in your head, you made end up with a manuscript that needs more work than it would have it you did have a well thought out sketch beforehand. You’ll miss the forest for all the trees, or however that phrase goes, when you start revising.

In the end, the more time you spend on the sketch for both writing and painting/drawing before you dive in and get to work, the better the piece will turn out.

But it all starts with a blank page and the permission that the first strokes or the first words don’t have to be any good at all.

You just have to put them down and go from there.

How do you start a project?