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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Writers Are Like Plants

To be completely honest, I don't even remember how this blog post idea came to me ... If you think about it, writers often have little plants--succulents, strawflower cacti--in their writing space. They're cute and aesthetic and give us something to keep alive and rooted to the real world. (See what I did there?)
Then I got to thinking that writers are really like plants themselves. All we need is sunshine, water, and air to grow. (Let's just acknowledge from the beginning that no synthetic plants ever got a book published.)

Sunshine

Sunshine is encouragement of course. Just like all plants need varying levels of exposure to the sun's rays every day, so do writers need encouragement. Maybe you're a houseplant and can survive with helpful Pinterest memes filtering through the window every once in a while. Or maybe you're an all-out tree like me and do best when getting one-on-one encouragement from writer friends you have a relationship with. Either way, don't underestimate the power of encouragement! And by encouragement, I don't just mean 5-star reviews (although I love those too). Encouragement can be someone listening to a problem, brainstorming with you, or giving you ideas on what to do next. Or sometimes it's a kick in the pants (flowerpot?) so we get back to growing. I'm short, but it's not from lack of encouragement. We may have to intentionally get ourselves out into the sunshine to soak it up.

Water

Water is inspiration. Like all good plants, we need water. (Again, no synthetics here. We all know they just collect dust like unread books.) If you've noticed, water doesn't come all the time. It spreads out and it's unpredictable. There are a few patterns to be noted here:

  • Flood // inspiration that does more harm than good with distraction and lack of follow through
  • Thunderstorms // deluges of inspiration that give epic boosts to our writing skills
  • Rain showers // equally unpredictable and more short-lived inspiration
  • Garden hose // sought ought inspiration to give us a little extra boost
  • Hand-watered // oops, you need inspiration? how about you write without some ...
In all honesty, we don't have to be inspired to write, just like plants don't have to be watered nonstop. But a little sure does help when put to use.

Air

Air is progress. The actual act of writing or anything and everything that goes into the preparations to write. (Yes, even Pinterest.) I mean, let's face it. I've never seen a plant without air and I've never seen a writer without words. Put all that sunshine and water to good use or you're not going to grow worth anything!

Nutrients

Nutrients are sustenance plain and simple. There's not always a reason to get too creative here. Just think about what nourishment you need as a writer because it varies from plant to plant. Reading the Bible, eating healthy snacks, exercising, relevant entertainment ... whatever helps keep you in good health so that you can spend time on your writing. Without nutrients, no plant can remain healthy and strong. So remember that as a writer, what you put in (whether its food or entertainment) can contribute greatly to the creativity that flows out. Don't be afraid to stretch, try new things, and find what works for you specifically. That's part of the growth process.

Pruning

Bonus! Pruning is critique. Most plants who are serious about growing get to a point where it's healthiest is part of what they've grown gets pruned. This seems counterproductive, but it improves the health of the plant and allows it to continue to grow. So too will most writers reach a point where they've done their best. They need pruning. That requires sharing your work and being open to feedback. Not all critique is criticism and not all criticism is bad. When done well by the pruner, it's a very healthy thing!

From this point, it's a cycle and a continuous balance. The results are the introverted plants (primroses, cacti, succulents), extroverted plants (ivy, sunflowers, honeysuckle), and the mentor plants, sages who train us all (trees of all varieties).
I hope you enjoyed that! What sphere of plant life do you most relate to? Do you own a plant? You can find Ophelia the strawflower cactus over on my Instagram. ;)