How Does Your [Writers] Garden Grow?

How Does Your [Writers] Garden Grow?

Are you, like me, dealing with a bad case of spring fever? Although spring ‘officially’ arrived over a month ago, we here in NW Wisconsin … well … we have roughly six months of winter, and  everything else crammed into the next six months.

Anyway, this is the time of year when many folks are pouring through seed catalogs, focusing on getting outside and digging in the earth to prepare for … perhaps … a garden. Flowers? Vegetables? A combination of both?

Writers and gardeners have much in common. We start with the same items and follow many of the same procedures.

The gardener gathers his tools and prepares a plot of ground, marks off his rows, and plants his seeds, or seedlings.

The writers seeds are words, those little snippets of ideas jotted down on cards, a notebook, even ‘sticky notes,’ and now feels she can ‘plant’ her garden in neat sentences and paragraphs that flow together and make sense.

After the gardener has all his plantings in the ground, he waters them. But, as they begin to sprout, unwanted weeds pop up in those neat little rows. Distinguishing those weeds from the tender new sprouts takes a skillful and practiced eye, but those weeds have to be pulled out. Otherwise, the weeds will choke out the good plants, taking over the carefully planned garden.

The writer goes through her sentences and paragraphs, pulling out the weeds of unnecessary words, redundancies … all those things that will choke out the real story. The writer must be diligent, on the alert for those common writing errors, just as the gardener has to keep ahead of those weeds that somehow grow faster than the plants he put there on purpose.

Now, the gardener prays for the Lord to protect his garden from bad weather, or anything else that will spoil his crop. The writer prays for guidance, direction and help through the bad weather—distractions and dry-spells—that are the inevitable part of the writing process.

Finally, the garden has matured, after long days of proper sunshine, weeding and watering, and the gardener is rewarded with a beautiful harvest. Now he has to find the market that will buy his produce. Even then, he still has some sorting, culling out the less desirable, and selecting only the prime examples of his hard work. But he won’t discard what he’s eliminated for market. It is perfectly good and will be kept for personal consumption.

The writer faces the same process. All her words are written, but there are some parts that still need to be culled before she can submit her hard work to the market. Certain sections may not move the story forward, or though they worked at first, are not quite right now. Yet they are still good writing, so the writer will keep them, perhaps for another story at a later date.

(An aside: Do you writers do that? I do. I have a file on my computer called The Cutting Room Floor where those discarded, yet still worthy, bits and pieces wait to be reused.)  

(Forgive a little whimsy. All the time I was writing this, I kept hearing this little rhyme from childhood and I couldn’t resist.)

Now, all is ready for market. Both gardener and writer have planted, watered, weeded and harvested, but their work is far from finished. Their product still needs to be sold. The market is there … someone wants the gardener’s tomatoes and potatoes, and someone wants the words the writer has written.

The successful gardener will already have studied and found the right market for his harvest. He knows what will sell. The successful writer will have taken the same approach, studied the market, found places that are looking for what she has written, and knows where she will submit her completed manuscript.

The gardener may not face the same rejections as the writer, and some market days may be less successful than others and he takes home what hasn’t sold. The writer has no guarantees, either. Her manuscript may be rejected the first time out, maybe even the second or third … or more after that. But both gardener and writer persevere, no matter the obstacles.

And both, with tenacity and determination, will reap the benefits of their hard work.

Peg Phifer About Peg Phifer

Multi-published author Peggy Blann Phifer writes a mixture of contemporary women’s fiction with three parts suspense, three parts mystery, and four parts romance, stirred up with a sprinkling of humor. Peg believes God has a sense of humor and that He intended to place laughter into our lives no matter our circumstances. Read more on her website.


  1. Peg, I am not a gardener by any means (looking woefully out the window at weeds that desperately need pulled and will not remove themselves!), but I absolutely love your analogy.

    I am not near as imaginative as you either. Those Cutting Room Floor phrases and sentences from my manuscripts live in a file called “bits and pieces.” Not very creative, huh?

    Great post!

  2. Ah, Patti, my gardening days are long gone, too. Alas. I am hoping to get to a local greenhouse/nursery and buy some potted plants to place here and there … but, going through physical therapy for a messed up left knee, even that is iffy.

    Thanks for leaving a comment, my friend. Good to hear from you.

  3. I’m afraid I haven’t learned to be an efficient word gardener yet. When I have to prune words and favorite phrases, I don’t place them in a file (I would only forget where I put them!). Instead, I have gritted my teeth and killed the little darlings. Perhaps, my brain will resurrect some of them.

  4. LOL, Linda … I used to do that, too, without remorse. Or so I thought, until I realized I deleted something I REALLY liked! Then, by cutting and saving them, I convinced myself, was a bloodless way of ‘killing’ them. 🙂 And even now, maybe only 10% of what I do file is worth anything when I take another look at using them somewhere else. I’m a writing pack-rat.

  5. Laurie Driesen says:

    I love your comparison of writing with gardening! I’m not a gardener but I related to your examples. I think after reading this I’ll be less frustrated with pulling weeds from my writing. It’s necessary, just like a garden.

  6. Right you are, Laurie. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Glad you enjoyed my little analogy.

Speak Your Mind