I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Gardening Relates to Writing

By Jennie Atkins

I have a passion for gardening. I love flowers, love the anticipation of waiting for each bloom, and rejoice in God’s creativity with flower type, color, size, and scent. This spring I am busy starting a new garden in Nevada the process quite different than my Ohio gardens (shown here). While doing it, I’ve realized how much gardening relates to the writing process.

Springtime is my favorite time of year. I watch in amazement as nubbins of green poke their head through the soil. The spring season of writing is where ideas are just starting to form—a newspaper article, a song, or a real-life incident taking root in the fertile soil of a storyteller’s heart.

Every spring, I plant new flowers and vegetables anticipating their growth. The same is true with each book. Long before I put a word on paper, I get to know my characters, invent ways that take them through challenges so that, in the end, they too can grow.

Plants need water. So do new ideas. The idea I have planted in my brain needs to be soaked in thought and brainstormed so it can grow into a full concept.

Plants need help, so I fertilize them. I need help, so I spend time learning. I research items for my book. I read books, for fun and to learn more about writing. I attend seminars and conferences. I talk about writing with other authors.

You’re not a true gardener if you’re not willing to lose a few plants. The same is true with story lines. I have dozens of stories started. Some didn’t even get out of the gate; others are still in being considered. While others have gone on to be a full manuscript.

Plants don’t grow overnight. Neither do books. Sometimes you just can’t force an idea. The creative process needs to grow.

Weeds drain the soil of nutrients and water. The weeds of writing are the things that drain you, the extra non-important things that pull you away from writing. We all have them—mine is spider solitaire. I have threatened to remove it from my computer if it keeps calling my name!

Change is inevitable. I’ve planted flowers in the sun where they needed shade. I’ve recently moved from a humid continental climate with lots of rain to a semi-arid climate where nothing grows unless you water it. Your books can change to. You may have to rip out whole scenes to make them better.

In the end, there is only one thing to say. There is no easy way to have a magnificent garden without a lot of hard work, sweat, and patience. Writing? Yep. The same thing.

What is your passion?  And what aspects have you applied to your writing adventure?


  1. Jennie, I love how your post goes along with Dee's from Tuesday. I love this line: You’re not a true gardener if you’re not willing to lose a few plants.

    In writing, especially after you're contracted, there's a lot of compromise as you work with your editorial team to write the best book possible. That includes all kinds of edits, title changes and book cover decisions.

    I love to knit, and I've found every knitted item begins with a foundation row. If our stories lack that foundation, then the plot unravels leaving us with a bunch of scenes that don't drive the story.

  2. Jennie, I loved this. your analogy is so good! I remember trying to grow roses in Las Vegas, NV. Yep, they died. Sigh. It's definitely different getting things to grow in that part of the country. :)

    I LOVED this line, probably because I'm living it right now. :) "Sometimes you just can’t force an idea. The creative process needs to grow." I've got a story idea that I know I'm going to write. But, when I thought I was ready to begin, I found it needed more time to germinate. So, that's what it's doing right now as I work on my current ms.

    My passion—well, I guess I have a few. Seeing marriages stay healthy is a big heart passion. I love, LOVE writing, so that's another passion. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also drawn me closer to Jesus as I figure out stories and as I learn to look to Him for my identity on this journey.

    Loved your post today!

  3. Beautiful job, Jennie, & of course I relate. You'll laugh to know our smallest Scottish Highland heifer is named Nubbins (Nubs for short).

  4. Lisa,
    Foundations are important for everything. I just spent a great deal to bring real dirt into my beach-without-the-water yard, just so I have a good base!

  5. Jeanne, I found most of the time when I have writers block its because I'm trying to force an idea into my story.

    1. Hmmm, good thought, Jennie. I'll have to ponder that. ;)

  6. Dee,
    How funny! Do you know I used to make my dad carry me out to see my uncles cows when we visited his farm! I still love driving by the ranches here to watch the cows (and especially the calves) out in the fields.

  7. Jennie, our cows want you to come visit--and advise improvements in our flower beds, that aren't actually too bad--I just need to keep them up.

  8. Oh, Jennie, I love this and you are so right on every point. We are a lot like gardeners, tending the story ideas God gives us!

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