How to Be a Better Writer: Water the Grass

How to Be a Better Writer: Water the Grass — Write Right“The grass is always greener where you water it.”

I don’t know the source for the above quote; I only know my accounting software sometimes shows the phrase while loading data. “The grass is always greener where you water it.” The phrase holds a two-fold application. First, it concerns the writing life. Second, it relates to the writer and his or her community.

Water the Grass: Writing Life

The best writers read and write. They practice. They, to use the metaphor, “water the grass.” These writers understand good writing comes from good, hard work. They water the grass regularly because the saying’s true: the grass is always greener where it’s watered.

However, grass thrives not on water alone. It requires sunlight and, if in Texas, careful tending and oversight. The writer visits the “grass” every day. He or she checks for damage, studies the ground for rabbit footprints.

The writer sometimes leaves the grass open to walking feet, but he or she may pen it off. The writing is too new, too vulnerable, to withstand children’s shoes trampling across it. It needs to be hidden, hemmed in, and watered.

Water the Grass: Community

The better-known phrase about “grass” states, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” That is, someone else’s grass — over the hill or across the street or maybe, even, on top of some impossible-to-climb mountain ridge — appears greener than one’s own. The person treks to the grass only to discover the “greener” to be a deception. The grass reveals its dark roots, browning blades slicing the green. It appears oh, so vibrant but only in a certain slant of sunlight.

The visitor still believes the newfound grass to be greener. He or she has fallen victim to comparing the grass to someone else’s and becomes literally green with envy. This person shies away from true community, which confronts, criticizes, and encourages. He or she grips what grass he or she possesses until it withers and blows away in the wind.

Such a person experiences little joy in the writing. He or she is consumed with writing like another poet or novelist and either turns into a cheap copycat or stops writing altogether. The person spends all day studying the other writers but never writes—the fear of never measuring up simply is too much to bear.

Better writers refuse those courses of action. They see other people’s lawns and, instead of running to ask how and why it’s green, they water their own. They learn from studying — they should — but they always return to their patch of grass because it is theirs, and it requires some water to become greener.

Image: (Creative Commons)