Gardening & Writing: What You Need to Know

Editor’s Note: This post was first published on Medium.  it is republished here to expand the range of topics on  3 Score & More

Here’s what you need to know.

If you’re a writer and a gardener, maybe you already know it.

There is great similarity between writing and gardening. More than you might think.

Superficially, of course, they are not at all similar. Gardening is, most often, more physically demanding than writing. Writing requires greater, more focused cognitive attention. Most of the time.

Writing and gardening are beguiling taskmasters.

Once in your veins, writing and gardening can become obsessions.

Experience a bit of success, favorable comments on a blog post, publication acceptance of an article and the hook is set.

That buzz you hear are the writing gods at work to lure you to the craft.

The never ending list of ideas, begetting projects, begetting drafts, begetting revisions. And somehow you’re driven to reach for more. The next idea, the next pitch, the next freelance gig.

A delicious tidbit from your vegetable patch? The brilliant peonies lining the driveway? The garden gods have claimed you, probably forever. And there’s no escape. Just try to find the Exit door.

In gardening, the tasks are positively Sisyphean. You’re never done with the upkeep, battling pests, the seasonal repair after a brutal winter or a weather calamity.

Writing and gardening demand a strict production schedule

Both writing and gardening are 24/7 endeavors. During the “season” of productivity, you don’t/can’t stop.

Short breaks are allowed, but not long enough to disturb the rhythm of the process. Calendars are they byword.

There are deadlines in writing, productivity goals in blogging, an editors’ unending requests, a client’s unreasonable timeframe.

Gardening is no more forgiving and likewise calendar-driven. Can’t plant before the last frost (whenever that is if, like me, you live in upstate New York).

In many ways, however, garden’s diurnal tasks of each season are therapeutic. Dependable as the sunrise and sunset. Ancient as, well, the Byrds.

Writing and gardening favor right-brained thinking

This should come as no surprise to you writers and gardeners. Your creative, artistic, intuitive leanings are already apparent. That right brain of yours is on fire.

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

You can “see” the next year’s garden. You can imagine the flow of words.

In both cases it’s work to eke the raw material out to make manifest, in gardens and words, your creativity.

Yet, at the end of the day, creativity is the ultimate right-brain blessing. Don’t take it lightly.

Neither writing nor gardening are sociable activities.

Surely there are sociable gardeners. There are sociable writers.

The intense work to achieve, if not greatness, then respectabilty in these endeavors is a solitary pursuit.

You may have help; you may seek advice along the path to creation, but the blood, sweat and effort is yours alone.

There’s singular ownership. In their heart of hearts, both writers and gardeners know this.

Surely the results of these endeavors are social. The fruits of you labor, your latest post, book, cherry tomato or exploding perennial flower bed is is shared on all forms of social media.

“An phone with the Facebook app open next to Scrabble pieces arranged in the words “social media”” by William Iven on Unsplash

That’s the victory lap. Well-deserved public declaration of the completed task. And, we always hope, public appreciation for the effort.

The accolades are social. The work? Not so much.

In gardening and writing the balance between pleasure and pain is rarely symmetrical

There are moments of intense hard work. Disruption, frustration.

Moments of disappointment, rejection.

Moments of despair, when nothing is fitting or the circumstances have thwarted your every move.

Writing is like that. So is gardening. There are thorns among the roses. And it can all seem unrelentingly shitty.

Photo by Billy Cox on Unsplash

But then,

Moments of victory.

Ah Ha! moments of orgasmic proportion.

Moments when all the knowledge, insight and secrets of the universe have been revealed.

Moments of sheer bliss when the words come together to form the perfect sentence.The sentences weave into the perfect paragraph. The entire piece a symphony of word play and imagery. Your creation.

It’s sheer bliss when the hydrangea blooms like blue/pink/white fists. When, with a glass of rose, a twilight garden walk is otherworldly and the light infused with gold. With help from the Universe, your creation.

The Upshot

Writing and gardening will take a ridiculous amount of time and effort.

Just so you know, perfection in either pursuit is illusory.

It is a noble cause to seek, but manage your expectations. And don’t forget to have fun. Otherwise, it won’t be worth the time or the effort.


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