The 21 Infuriating Steps to Completing Any DIY Project

From gratification to medication, I like to do things myself. As a professional incompetent, however, I need a lot of help with my DIY projects. Help which, unfortunately, usually comes in the form of Internet research. If you, like me, are a giant asshole who happens to be tackling a big project soon, these are the steps you are inevitably going to follow, whether you like it or not. Hey, you do all the other prep work -- lay out your tools, clean your work area, arrange the parts -- why not prepare yourself psychologically by previewing all of your upcoming failures in numbered list form?

*Note: In this case, I'm doing some work on my motorcycle. Don't let that scare you away -- I will be using this project as an example, but the steps are universal and should apply to any DIY project you choose, short of Amateur Frankensteining.**

**Double Note: If you are trying to create life out of the parts around your home, please consult book one in my critically acclaimed Amateur Frankensteining series, entitled Fire Good: Instilling an Exploitable Weakness.

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General Research

"We're looking up money laundering in a dictionary."

You've got a project in mind, but you're no fool: Or rather, you're a fool who is well aware of your own limitations. So you want to go into this shit prepared. You're going to spend weeks on message boards, reading how-to guides and studying up on not only your particular project, but the entire theory behind the general workings of your project. You're going to be an expert before you ever step foot in that garage. Good for you!

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Getting Started

You've finally done it. It's taken weeks of work, but you've at last completed an extensive crash course in the topic of your choice, and you have graduated yourself with flying colors. You know what you have to do. You're ready to get started. All that's left is to head into the workshop ...

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Forgetting Everything

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God damn it. What was your first step again?


You were supposed to cycle something, right? The motor? You were supposed to ... cycle ... the motor ... cycle-

God damn it.

Back to General Research

All right, this is all looking familiar. Yeah, you just panicked a little. But now you've got it in your head. Real firm grasp of the knowledge here. Let's get back to the workshop.

Getting Started Again

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What was ...?


Bringing the Computer into the Garage

Sure, you're going to get grease, blood, whiskey, tears, and probably some other bodily fluids on your PC, but your garage door is like one of those Men in Black flashers: The second you step through it, everything is forgotten. Now there's a handy guide right in front of you that, worse comes to worst, can also display some conciliatory pornography.

Starting Small



Are you really going to do this? You can't do this.

You're going to ruin everything.

No, you can't start off with that attitude! Let's get pumped! Put on some C + C Music Factory. You don't have any? Look it up, man! You've got the Internet!

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All right, well, studying their Wikipedia page for the last two hours hasn't been ... entirely relevant. Maybe you just need to relax some.

Take a shot!

Better? Yes. Fuck yes; you're a whatever-it-is-we're-doing machine! You're gonna do it! You're gonna do it all! You're gonna do the hell out of it! You're gonna- just ... OK, do something, though. Start small. Here, let's take the grips off.

Gaining Confidence

Oh man, that worked great! You didn't need to research grip dynamics for 16 straight hours to do that! This is going to be cake. Let's try something harder: Stripping off the Air Injection Solenoid.

That's ... what is that? No, you can't stop to look it up. You'll lose momentum. Aw hell, it's just a name for the part that looks like the picture. Might as well be "Sam" or "Bill."

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Hey, that thing looks like a Bill! Off you go.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

So your whiskey bottle is empty, "Gonna Make You Sweat" has come to a masterful close, and the existential nature of what you've done has just hit you.

You are in no way qualified to do this.

Look at it! God, your project is ... it's everywhere. Your garage looks like you've been committing war crimes against a robot.


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What are you supposed to do now? What the hell are you supposed to do now?!

Angry Research

This is exactly the same as the general research step, except you're typing much harder. Those keystrokes are really more like tiny punches, furiously beating your words into the Internet. Try adding "fucking" or "piece of shit" into your search queries. For example, instead of "How do you cut a miter jig?" try "How do you fucking cut a miter jig when it's being a total piece of SHIT?"

Only please substitute the non-swearing search terms with actual words, because that stuff above is pure gibberish.

Ordering Obscure Parts from Around the World

All right: You've figured out the problem. For some reason, what you're trying to do is slightly different from what literally everybody else on the planet has done throughout all of human history.

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Of fucking course it is.

"Fuck you for being a unique, beautiful snowflake!"

And now, to complete your project, you need some special parts, but the guy at the Home Depot looked at you like you were speaking fucking Chinese when you asked him about it. Which is good, because you're going to need to learn Chinese just to order it.

Waiting for Parts to Arrive via Camel-Freight from Fucking Uzbekistan

So, after days of searching, you've finally found the rare and majestic metaphorical unicorn of parts. You've run the website through Google Translate, made the required Sacrifices Three to the God of Bridges, and twice blessed your credit card information with "Lady of Water Greetings." Your part, as near as you can tell, is on its way.

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It will be here in an estimated 7.3 months.

Getting Impatient, and Trying to Jury-Rig Something

You know what? Maybe you don't need that super-rare special part. You could probably just trim that one thing down a little, maybe rig up a little shim, drill the bolt out and retap it-

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Dealing With Horrific Failure

Oh. Oh no. The thing that's supposed to fix the thing broke off in the thing?!

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Fuck It

Seriously. Fuck it.

Fuck Everything

Fucking fuck everything.

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The Parts Have Arrived!

Oh yeah! You were doing that thing. Whatever happened to that thing? Is it ... is it still in the garage? Holy shit! It is!

Why did you ever stop doing this?! It was so much fun! Let's kick all these hobos and raccoons and hobo raccoons out of here and get back to work!

It ... Worked?

No. Surely it couldn't have been that easy. After all this drama. All this waiting -- it can't be over, can it? Try wiggling it. No? Still good? Push on it a little. It's holding on? Is it the kind of thing that can start? If so, try starting it up, surely it's not going to-

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God's wet balls! It worked! IT WORKED!


*Special Note: If your project is an Amateur Frankenstein, remember to kill your assistants at this point. Their usefulness has come to an end, and they know too much.


Well, hell yes it's beer!

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Sharing Your Success

Now it's time to edit out all the pictures of you crying in the closet and your many attempted suicides, then post the guide online for others to see! This is a mandatory step, because do-it-yourself work functions on the exact same principle as that video tape from The Ring: The only way to escape it is to make a copy and send somebody else into this fucking spiral of destruction in your place.

Starting Over

Oh man, look at this guide for doing some cool thing that somebody posted on the Internet!

That's a really good idea, and it doesn't look like they had any trouble at all while doing it! You know what? You could totally pull this off -- compared to last time, it'll be a cakewalk.

But let's do it right this time. First, we'll settle in for some general research and ...

Buy Robert's stunning, transcendental, orgasmic science fiction novel, Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity, right here. Or buy Robert's other (pretty OK) book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead. Follow him on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

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