Last spring my daughter and I worked in my little garden patch, preparing it for the bursts of color we hoped would soon appear.
So much grass had grown over it in the last several months, it took us about a half hour to clear it all out. We dug, pulled, tossed the weeds away, and evened out the dirt as much as we could.
After all that, we took the seedlings, gingerly pulling each one from its little holder, dug the holes to the right depth, and placed the tiny plants in their respective resting places. Then I smoothed out the dirt in between each and sprayed water over the whole garden.
What does all this have to do with writing? I’m sure if you are a writer and you are reading this, you probably know exactly where I’m going.
Just as working the garden through its preparation and planting, and continued care as the blooms blossom, our writing requires an equal amount of work.
We get an idea. We write the first draft, or make an outline, just to get that idea and connecting thoughts on paper before the memory fades.
Then we dig, pull the “wordy weeds” away, most likely tossing them completely aside because we find better words and expressions to take the place of the “weeds.”
We smooth out the rough bumps in our work and rewrite the draft, maybe several times, in order to remove all the “undesirable” words and phrases. As we continue to “weed,” the writing becomes more evenly-paced because now replacement words add to the improvement of the story, just as the new seedlings begin to add beauty and form to the previous patch of soil.
After preening and pruning the story of all the unwanted elements, replacing them with those which enhance the draft, it’s ready for the next step. The novel begins to move forward on its way to the reader.
In the past, I’ve compared the important steps of writing to the composition of a head of lettuce. Comparing it to the preparation of a garden seems appropriate at this time when Spring is only a week old, and Mother Nature has already shown so much floral beauty this season.
As you dig, plant, and weed, I hope you recall you are working, not only for an appealing display of color, but you are doing the same thing with your manuscript. Both are destined for the public to enjoy.