Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gardening = Writing

Yes, despite my busy schedule, I spend several hours this week pulling the weeds out of my just-about-to-sprout garden. As in the past, gardening always reminds me of writing, and just as I posted last year about these connections, more similarities have occurred to me. Most involve revision in some form, since I'm the great reviser, but all reflect my belief that each writing, like each plant, follows a natural order.

See if you find anything useful:

1. A good scene is like a lilac. It's smell is heavenly, but it doesn't bloom for too long. Lilacs only bloom for a week or two, and then they are gone, and their smell with them. Then again, if they bloomed from March until September, we'd get sick of the stench. Any good scene should know when to end itself so that the magic of the scene isn't lost in boredom (SNL could do well to adhere to this rule).

2. What looks pretty at first may turn out to be a weed. You might find yourself putting some event or character which seems awesome, yet somehow the rest of the work gets gummed up around it, faltering or falling flat. Know when a gimmick is just that--a gimmick--and don't hold onto something that may end up destroying your work entirely.

3. Others can give you advice about your garden, but only you know what you really want it to look like. Everyone has an opinion, and yet you should strive, above all, to make your work into something that you yourself would like to read. If you don't feel your heart behind it, most others won't either, but if you love your work, you'll be happy, even if you never sell it.

4. When in doubt, plant first, then move the plants once they grow beyond seedlings. If you like various elements, get them down on paper. You can always move them around or change their details once they are in your document. Without seeing them set in the text, they will be harder to evaluate and rearrange. Once they are on paper, and you can see how they relate in context, your task will be easier.

5. There is a season to plant, and a season to prune. Don't mix them up. If you are on a writing roll, and pages are spilling out almost faster than you can write them down, don't backtrack. Instead, let your right brain have the freedom it needs to generate what is coming. Then, when your right brain is exhausted, switch gears and go back to revise, to add to, or to shred your generated text. Turning on your left brain too early or too often can inhibit what your right brain will do.

That's it for now. Remember, too, that these are just my own observations. Happy gardening--I mean writing!


  1. Good advice, though I don't garden. But you're right about the writing aspect in my experience.

  2. Great examples... I don't like to weed my garden but I love to look at the wonderful flowers bloom and smell the scent of spring air--it kind of sets your mind at ease and puts a pop in your step.

    Thx for sharing.

  3. I personally hate weeding, but if I were to apply this and view wedding like this it may just save my sanity.

  4. It's Autumn here and the leaves on our grape vine are just starting to change colour and fall. A reminder that even a writer has to change seasons and let her brain rest for a while.

  5. Pull the weeds and you may find that you have something edible in your hand.

  6. I love this comparison; it rings so true. My problem is I love weeds, and often times let them run rampant. Sometimes, when I do prune them, I just move them to another area for a while.

  7. Great post. The analogy really works, I think. I love all your advice.

  8. Hi, Its kyle Tolbert here. I am in your English 101 class. Just wanted to leave a comment, and let you know i have a blog!

    And even though i dont garden myself, i enjoyed this post.!