Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Three Things You Can Learn about Writing from a Farmer

My Grandfather has spent much of his life working the land for a living and because it’s in his blood. He worked hard and has much to show for his labors. Over the years I embraced my farming roots and realized there is much I can learn from my Grandpa. I don’t sow seeds for a living, I sow words. Writing is in my blood. I’ve come to realize that there are correlations between farming and writing.

Three things that writers can learn from a farmer are:

* We have to nurture our work

Before a farmer even plants the seed he works the ground. The ground is broken up and fertilized. Without that beginning nurture the seeds have less of a chance to make it. After planting the seeds the farmer must then water and watch for weeds.

In the same vein we writers have to prepare our fields before planting. This may be taking classes or seeking out mentors. We need to spend time learning the craft in order to be successful. Once we begin work on a project we need to continue the nurture by always looking for ways to expand our stories and allow the seeds to grow. If we aren’t careful our work will end up flat and lifeless like a farmer’s field that has been neglected.

* Hard work comes before the harvest

A farmer works from sun up to sun down. He learns to use his time wisely to make sure everything is done on the farm and in the fields. The back-breaking work may have been made some easier by modern technology but it is still hard work. All summer long he labors over his fields to keep the crop growing. The harvest can’t happen unless the work comes first.

Writing is hard work. The internet and computers have made our job easier in some ways, but the only way to be successful is to put in the hours. Writers must use their hours just as wisely as a farmer in order to be successful. Without the hours in the chair with hands on the keyboards we will never have the harvest of words for which we strive.

* Sometimes the ground needs to rest in order to be replenished

A farmer learns to rotate his crops and let fields lie bare for a season in order to replenish the soil. This step is important to producing good crops. Without the time to renew the land the harvest will not be as abundant as it could be.

We writers need to learn when to stop and rest. We need to allow our work to sit for a while before returning to edit and revise it. Trying to rush the process only succeeds in making our work less than it can be.

Yes, my grandpa and I have very different lives. He worked a very physically demanding job for many years. As a writer my job isn’t physically demanding, but it is mentally demanding. Still, there is much to be learned from my grandfather’s work. The lessons I have learned from him have been applied to my writing. In our differences there is similarity. It is true, I am a farmer’s granddaughter and I am working my writing fields.

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