Every writer who wants to truly improve their work, must be intentional about their growth. Whether it’s taking in feedback, withstanding criticism, going through classes, or even just reading, the writer must keep learning and growing in their craft so that their work and their talents can increase and not stagnate. Imagine your writing is an indoor garden. Without proper watering or sunlight, will plants grow? In the outside world, plants need consistent tending if they are to flourish. Just like the plants in a greenhouse, our writing needs tending also to thrive.
How do we tend our writing? I would like to share these five practices with you that have parallels to gardening.
- We plant seeds. We give ourselves the time and the space to be students of our craft with the room the mature plants will need to thrive.
- We commit time. We wait for the seedlings to emerge, and when they do, we care for them all along their road to maturity.
- We pull weeds. We remove distractions and blockages that weaken our writing.
- We give it light and prune, when needed. We take in feedback as well as learn from criticism.
- We harvest. We write, write, write – so we can reap the harvest practice, growth, and commitment.
Dig into the soil and plant the seeds.
As human beings, we are constantly learning and our minds are always working to understand things. As writers, we must be especially attentive to learning more about our craft. We must dig into the soil, the nitty-gritty of what writing is all about: the techniques, the tricks, the structure, and especially the ideas and words themselves. Digging deep into the details of writing will help us to establish firm roots as our writing craft grows. Learning is the very first step to really growing in anything. Surround your seed (your writing) with learning (soil) and you will be well on your way to growth.
Water the seedling and the soil around it.
Dedicate real time and effort to your craft. Not only put time towards writing but plug your time into learning about your craft. Much of what goes into this step has to do with time management, which I dove into in my previous “Encouragement for Young Writers” article – Time Management . Don’t procrastinate about focusing your time into your writing. Make time for developing your craftsmanship.
Weed the garden bed.
Remove the distractions that take away from your writing. Pull out all of the weeds that suck the life out of what you are trying to cultivate. I weed for a landscaping company as my summer job, and so I am especially familiar with weeds. I never really realized a weed’s significance until I had to go to the same location every week to eliminate new weeds. Weeds are relentless. They never stop popping up and they just love to take away nutrients, light, and moisture from the flowers, bushes, and trees that are the plants purposely planted by a gardener or landscape designer. When it comes to writing, I see weeds as anything that distracts or takes away from the purpose of writing for God’s glory. We must identify the weeds in our lives, both in and out of writing, and pull them. It may be social media or television, music, or even certain writing activities. Anything can be a distraction or a weed when we let it take away from our purpose of flourishing.
Soak it in the sun and prune when needed.
Take in feedback on your writing and learn from criticism. Sometimes we must put our talents through the fire to test their worth and grow them. Plants can either grow from sunlight or shrivel up, it depends on the care we take in making sure they get the right amount of everything. If they do not see enough of the sun then they will die, but if they see too much of it without water, they will also die. We must be careful to make sure that we don’t avoid the feedback and criticism or, on the other hand, focus too much of our hearts or energy on it. We must learn to let our writing be put through both the positive and negative so that we may grow tougher and more learned as the writer and so that our writing may become stronger. However, exposing yourself to constant criticism and/or criticism from the wrong source may lead to discouragement, stunted growth, and mental exhaustion. Don’t keep your writing from “the sun” of criticism, or it may just shrivel up with weakness. And when it is growing in directions you don’t want it to, prune it for better results.
Tend with love and reap the harvest.
Once your plant is fully grown and producing, you cannot just stop caring for it, or else it will fail and die. In the same way, do not neglect caring for your writing after it has produced reward. Your writing must continue to be maintained for it to produce more and more fruit for Christ. It takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication but, in the end, it is worth it. It’s hard to pull more fruit from a withered, old branch.
I know it can be hard to make time for writing when your life is full, but as writers we are committed to tending our writing. Do we want our garden to grow stagnant from misuse over this summer? Let’s tend to our talents and callings as gardens just like our gardens outside. May the God of the harvest be pleased with our obedience and faithfulness!
We are grateful for Kiwihug’s brilliant images and generosity in sharing them.
Sadie Irene Miller is a young writer finishing high school. She is a proud homeschooler and the oldest daughter of five children. Hanging out with family and friends, playing sports, and writing are some of her favorite pastimes. She is also the co-creator of a small writing group in her area. Her goal is to reach others with the love of Christ through her writing and her example.