Often when I’m stymied or stuck on what to write, I wander out of doors where I can breathe deeply, center myself, and order my thoughts. My garden is my safe haven. I’ve loved gardening since I fell in love with my great grandmother’s zinnias years ago.
Gardening and writing are the things that sustained me during this pandemic and quarantine. I’ll admit that in the beginning, I was afraid to venture from my home. Thank goodness when the quarantine began in March 2020, I was already consumed with gardening plans and schedules. I’d been in a funky place with writing, but I knew that my gardens wouldn’t fail me. There would be no new ideas to think of, no new plot twists, no characters. The same begonias and petunias which had done well last summer, would do well again this year. No fuss, no decisions.
While writing and blogging drive me crazy with the need for fresh ideas and new directions, a garden just needs pretty flowers—Not!
My garden isn’t so unlike a story or a blog post. It needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. I created an introduction—starting places on both side entrances— that tease what visitors are going to see when they get outback. I placed attractive plants in position to draw visitors into the back. Just as we do with our blogs and stories, we give readers a reason to stop, reflect, and wonder.
The photo below shows the Flower Tower I made about eight years ago when I first started blogging. The project, inspired from The Home Depot 2013 Style Guide, served as a focal point to my garden entrance where, before this design, there had been no entrance. Being out in the fresh air, working on this project, opened my mind and allowed me to come up with new ideas. It brought much needed focus to my scattered writer’s thoughts.
The picture below is the entrance from the opposite corner of the house. It is the introduction to my shade garden. This garden never became the formal, manicured curve I envisioned it being. Still, if I weed and taper it, instead of letting it go where it wants, the ferns and hostas are less out of control.
Here I go again making the right-brained connection to gardening and writing, but they’re so alike in what they require of me to make them perfect. Both are artistic creations and if I’m going to do it right, I have to put in the time. Weeding, tapering, etching out the border is akin to editing. I’m cutting away the dead, the overgrown, and the unnecessary, and streamlining overgrowth to make it more beautiful . Similar to blogging … anybody?
Just as I designed my shade garden with the vision above, I begin my blogs with a vision. I visualize how to begin and end a post so that I keep control and not maneuver off subject. My main objective is to reach 5* status.
Plagiarism is wrong on every count, but borrowing is natural. In gardening as well as writing, borrowing ideas is fine as long as you don’t copy the design. Because the soil in the Midwest or Great Lakes part of the country can be compacted by heavy clay, my sister-in-law sets her containers in holes dug into the ground. Nobody ever realizes her beauties aren’t in the ground.
This is a time saver and it’s easy to switch things out. Just as it’s okay to copy this idea, it’s okay to save time by copying tricks from other writers. Have you noticed other bloggers using the “5 Easy Steps” lists, or colorful graphs, charts, and surveys. Put those ideas within your posts and make them your own. Here’s me below trying to duplicate my S-I-L’s pots idea. All four pictures are of potted plants I stuck in places around the garden. Not so good, yet, but look out next year!
If your blog has a theme or a niche, it’s okay to deviate once in a while. Going in a totally different direction can be a refreshing change for you and your readers. This summer, a double blooming petunia caught my eye. I wasn’t sure about it, so I only planted it on one side of the flower garden out back. The rest I planted with tried and true impatiens and regular petunias.
If you enter my garden from the back of the yard, you run smack into my flower garden. Every spring it’s filled with tulips which we change out each summer to plant annuals. Your blog should have a regular feature, too. Something your readers have come to expect. The photos below are from a local church group that wanted a video of me with my annual tulip garden for their website.
It’s heaven when the words are flowing and stories are coming together. I find myself lost in the zone and I treasure those times, but when there’s only fuzz on my brain, I go for the garden. Remember that right-brained connection I mentioned earlier between writing and gardening? You can garden, too! The satisfaction of blooms that explode with color is the same as having written a great piece. I preen when neighbors say they’ve been showing pictures of my garden to their co-workers and friends. It’s the same as when readers share what I’ve written with their friends, or express their pleasure through comments and reviews.
Thanks for letting me take you through my garden while I try to hammer out the direction of my WIP. I hope you enjoyed seeing what I do when I’m not writing.