So I was walking outside looking at the squash early this morning and I thought about the similarities between writing and gardening. (I’m by no means an expert gardener- my rosebush didn’t survive this last winter.) There are more than a few so I thought that I’d list some of them.
- Patience: Gardening is filled with watching and waiting. Waiting for the right time to plant. If you move to early your plants might be killed by a late freeze. Waiting for the plants to mature. In writing, we have to have patience as well. The most obvious, the submission process. Waiting for a response, while continuing on with other projects.
- Tending: Gardening is something you have to work at. At least in my area of the US, we don’t normally get enough rain to simply let garden grow on it’s own. In some cases, you prune off dead limbs or stems, tend the soil, fertilize, and weed (but more on that later.) Writing takes some work, as we all know. Sometimes the words flow, other times we have to push through the horrid days. Revising, rewriting, editing, and promoting.
- It’s hard work: Gardening takes work, especially at the beginning and end of the season. You have to prepare the soil, aerate it, add compost. At the end of the year, you have to prepare plants and bulbs for the winter. Dirty work, but it can be so rewarding and relaxing. Finishing a novel can seem like a never ending task. Making your writing into a habit. Wrangling your characters into cooperating when they seem to be at opposing goals. Revising the manuscript once you finally do finish it.
- Sometimes you have to pull out the garbage that’s crept in. In gardens, that means weeding. Pulling out those dratted intruders that might choke out your plants. While in revising your work, you need to cut out the weak words, take out the inconsistencies, and decide if some things even belong in there at all.
- It’s not always going to work out the way you want it, no matter how well you plan it. You could be going for a brilliantly colored flower bed, but only the seeds from the red flowers sprout in the spring. Your melons may do great at first. Little round melons begin to grow, but suddenly they’re stunted and stop growing. In your novel, your characters may throw something at you that completely changes your careful outline. It could be something that seems small, a motivation, but that motivation, may change what they do in the rest of the story.
- Build a cage. (Last year, this one wouldn’t have made the list,. Until this year, I hadn’t seen anything analogous to quiet, alone time to write.) Sometimes you have to protect your plants, in this case, strawberries from predatory squirrels. Yes, strawberry stealing squirrels. Like the plants, you have to protect your writing time. Find a quiet room away from others. If you can an office with a lock. Post a note on the door. Give em a lecture. Disturb me and you will pay.
- Take care of it and it will bear fruit. If you tend, water, and care for your plants, you should see great results at the end of the season. If you push through the hard times, you’ll finish writing, revising, or editing your novel. And that is definitely something to celebrate.
Alright, I’d like to see other things writing is like and if I can think of one, I might even come up with another writing is like post.