How to Be a Better Writer: Tend Your Words

How to Be a Better Writer: Tend Your WordsAll sorts of analogies apply to the writing life, and this week’s involves gardening. It’s a strange comparison to make because, with the exception of some tea roses, I own the slightest of slight green thumbs. I love flower and vegetable gardens, but I lack the patience and desire to care for them.

Regardless, to be a better writer sometimes feels like being a gardener. You plant one seed after another. Some sprout up too early and die from frostbite or wither beneath the winter sun’s glare.

Others take root and get all comfy in the soil. You don’t know if they’ll turn into anything, but you wait and watch, wait and hope. One day, you see a shoot of green break the topsoil and reach toward the sky.

These seedlings you tend. You water them and make sure they receive adequate sun and shade. Perhaps you go the extra mile and pull out an umbrella or purchase heat lamps. You do whatever it takes to get these seeds, these words, to grow.

They do. Beneath your care, they unfurl their leaves and extend their blooms. They turn their faces to the sun and grow, grow, grow.

Into what? You still aren’t sure, but you wait and watch, wait and hope. They show their natures eventually: carrots, cucumbers, squash. A rogue peony and daffodil. Where they came from you don’t know, but you celebrate their appearance.

They appear because you did the work of a better writer. You tromped around the garden, got dirt underneath your fingernails, and even globbed a trail of mud across your brow as you tended the words and urged them to grow.

Image: Kevin Doncaster (Creative Commons)

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