The more comparisons I draw between writing and gardening, the more appreciative I become of the creative process. Here are a few of the ways growing plants and growing ideas are similar and what I’ve learned about both.
1. Waiting is essential and if you’re patient, you’ll enjoy the experience. In the garden you plant, you weed, you water…and then you have to wait. You can’t speed up the growing process. You can’t speed up the writing process either. (I’ve tried begging, pep talks, persuasion – on both plants and keyboards – and it does’t work.) You get a good idea, develop it, put words on paper…and then you wait. You wait a few weeks before you edit so you have fresh eyes, you wait while a few trusted friends read your work and give you feedback, and after you finally submit, you wait forever and a day. Thankfully, it’s worth the wait.
2. The weather is not always pleasant, but the diligent worker reaps a harvest. Some writing days feel like it’s 60 degrees and sunny: the words flow, the muses are singing your song, and you could go on forever. But to reap a harvest worth sharing, you also need to weed and water when it’s 100 degrees and humid; when it feels like work.
3. You must weed. If it doesn’t belong in the story, pull it out. This applies to poor wording, cheesy similes, beloved but useless characters,and stagnant plot points, but it can apply to great writing as well. A rose can be a weed if your garden’s focus is vegetables. Plant the rose elsewhere.
4. Harvest time is magic. It’s a special joy to see the fruit of your hard work. Blogging is like planting radishes: you put it out there and get almost instantaneous feedback. A book is more like a fruit tree: it can take years to harvest that produce. I greatly enjoy my radishes, but I’m taking good care of my trees as well: here’s hoping that my fruit harvest comes in soon.
What’s worse for you: the weeding or the waiting?