Write with a Green Thumb: Cultivate Your Story

Like growing a houseplant, writing a story isn’t difficult per se, but it does require dedication, continuing education, and giving it the best growing conditions possible. And while some days you may find yourself simply wishing it would grow itself, it can also instill a ton of pride seeing it growing from just a seed (an idea) to a mature plant (or finished book). It’s also easy to draw landscaping parallels between the two ideas. And since once upon a time I used to do a little landscaping myself, it’s easy to apply similar principals.

I have been known, on occasion, to dabble with growing a houseplant. And now that I’m between growing anything (I plan to again soon, with all of that free time I have) I see certain parallels between making sure something grows and blossoms, and crafting a story.

Just a couple of nights ago I found out that a former coworker of mine, Kimmy Pagnotta, is self publishing her own comic book. Which is incredible! And it also got me thinking about my own struggles with my story, The Autumn Mage.

Like growing a houseplant, writing a story isn’t difficult per se, but it does require dedication, continuing education, and giving it the best growing conditions possible. And while some days you may find yourself simply wishing it would grow itself, it can also instill a ton of pride seeing it growing from just a seed (an idea) to a mature plant (or finished book). It’s also easy to draw landscaping parallels between the two ideas. And since once upon a time I used to do a little landscaping myself, it’s easy to apply similar principals.

Trim the Dead Growth

This one is always intimidating at first, because anyone who starts a new project has that feeling that whatever they write is perfect. It’s not. Whether you’re on your second draft or your 20th, if something isn’t advancing the story, it’s gotta go.

But it’s my favorite part of the story!

While I’m sure your creative genius is without rival, cut it. You can always recycle an idea later, but if it doesn’t help the story, it hurts it. When a plant has a dead limb, you have to hack it off with a nice, clean trim. Doing so allows new growth to take place, as well as reallocates resources allowing the plant to grow healthier. Same rule of (green) thumb applies here.

Prune the Overgrowth

This is similar to the first tip in both regards. With landscaping, trimming is more cutting off the bigger stuff that has to go, which in writing may be whole subplots, paragraphs, scenes, even characters. Pruning, on the other hand, is more of a pinpointed removal of smaller problems.

Pruning is done to plants to help aid its overall shape, like with bushes and shrubs, and to allow better growth with trees and the like. When too much growth is allowed to take place, branches and leaves can start blocking out the sun, which leads to a vicious cycle of the healthier overgrowth on top stealing away food from the rest of the plant. By cutting it away it allows the tree as a whole to grow better.

In the same vein, if your have unnecessary portions of a story, it’s only going to bore readers. It may be well written, but it only takes away from the meat and potatoes of the story. No matter how well you crafted it, taking it out will lead to a healthier body.

 Feed the Roots

Many amateur gardeners think that growing a plant is literally a Just Add Water! scenario. Unfortunately, like any living thing, that’s not enough. Sunlight acts as plant food, but more often than not they need a little help with fertilizer or other added nourishment.

Doing this feeds the roots, not the plant directly. Feeding the roots allows it to distribute the vitamins throughout the body, strengthening it as a whole. This is akin to having someone else edit your story. They’ll show you where you can improve, what works, and what doesn’t.

Find Your Own Way

When you go online for tips on a subject, you’ll always find a message board where Expert 1 is arguing with Expert 2. The Internet is great for sharing information, but sometimes people confuse opinions for facts. While a little bit of the right advice goes a long way, you should also find techniques that work best for you.

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Everyone starts somewhere, and everyone needs a little extra help or mentoring. Whether it be the employee working the garden center or a club or group online, it’s always a good idea to find something with helpful tips.

I am always available with writing and editing services! And if you’re working on a project and you’d like to feature it, just ask!

If you have any other writing (or gardening) tips to share, sound off in the comments below! I love hearing what works for others in their creative process.

Trust No One, Not Even Yourself: Rewriting my Work In Progress

So, now that we’re into the New Year, New Me season in full force, I already have a confession; I am dreading rewriting the second half of the Autumn Mage. And it’s not that rewriting the same story that I’ve been working on in one form or another for the past five years isn’t fun anymore (it isn’t), it’s that I know it’s the weaker half.

So, now that we’re into the New Year, New Me season in full force, I already have a confession; I am dreading rewriting the second half of the Autumn Mage. And it’s not that rewriting the same story that I’ve been working on in one form or another for the past  five years isn’t fun anymore (it isn’t), it’s that I know it’s the weaker half.

It isn’t weaker in terms of story; I made sure to slowly build one chapter on top of the other. My biggest weakness when I first started down this rabbit hole is the thoughts in my mind play out in a way that makes sense to me, but when read, does little more than enrage my editor.

No; what I’m worried about is the simple notion that I am more than likely going to have to completely gut not only entire chapters, but entire plot lines. And I know it’s coming. For me, the closest thing I can equate this feeling to is when you walked into class on Friday morning, forget you had a quiz, were forced to attempt it, and then had to spend all weekend with that awful, terrible grade gnawing away at the pit of your stomach. By Saturday afternoon you just want to go see how bad it was to get it over with.

My final act was ambitious to say the least. And while ambition is good, there’s always the risk of having too much going on at once. I blended government secrets, espionage, Greek mythology, and traditional fantasy. It’s a fiction smoothie, and I’m sure my accomplished writing friend choked on quite a bit of it.

I understand fully the benefit of rewriting and editing your story. I know that in its current stage it isn’t ready yet. And I do want it ready. This is the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken for myself, and it excites and terrifies me all at once. Self doubt has always been one of my biggest weaknesses, and I’m afraid of flying close to the sun and allowing myself to crash and burn.

It’s harder to get motivated to edit, too. I took November off and worked on some short stories, which I will finish probably around 201whenever, and I honestly don’t care if it becomes anything or not. It was simply a way to get my creative juices flowing. But now I have fear creeping back in, and it’s like that big final project that you’ve had all semester to do; it needs to be finished yesterday, and you’re petrified to fail at it.

And so I will press on. It’s tough, and honestly, for me, this has been the most difficult part of the process. I know others will find it easier, and other still will struggle with it more than I am. But you have to burn the woods down to fertilize the soil again, and I do enjoy a good fire.

If any other writer pals have any tips for kicking your own butt back in gear for rewriting, please let me know with a comment below. I’m still very new at all of this and I love hearing more experienced people’s advice! And if you need help with your writing projects, just drop me a line and I’m more than happy to assist you.