Since time immemorial, plants and gardens have been of significant importance to humans. While gardening for sustenance was more common in the past, ancient civilisations still recognised the value of tending to plants.
King Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, for example, is said to have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as a gift to his beloved wife. Before its destruction, the ancient ziggurat stood as a testament to the lengths humanity would go to foster life, even in the harsh desert climate of Mesopotamia.
In fact, even the ancient Egyptians realised the power of caring for plants; they cultivated sycamores and fir trees in neat rows to placate their tempestuous gods. These days, the act of gardening to appease ancient deities has died out, but nurturing plants has remained a love of people across the globe.
Of course, we all know the myriad benefits gardening offers, but is there anything it can teach us about producing great content? Here are five lessons about writing we can draw from gardening and looking after plants.
1. The importance of a strong foundation
Before you get your hands dirty and start planting things, you need to ensure that the conditions for your vegetation are just right if they’re to have the best chances of survival.
For example, the soil needs to synergise with the type of plant you want to sow there – if the drainage is poor, then your plants’ root systems will quickly be destroyed.
You also need to make sure that the location for your plants is suitable. If you plant them under a tree and they don’t receive enough sunlight, or you’re growing them indoors and aren’t supplying enough light, then they’re going to grow spindly and eventually die.
A strong foundation is also required when you’re writing content. If you don’t properly understand your source material, your writing won’t flourish in the way it should. Much like the plants in your garden, you need to give yourself the perfect conditions before you even consider writing.
2. Plan everything to a T
When it comes to gardening, planning is of the utmost importance. You should ideally work out how often you’re going to water your plants, when you will feed them, and how much space they will take up once they’ve grown.
When I planted an assortment of vegetables in the garden, I jumped the gun and didn’t do adequate research into what I was planting. Leap forward a few months, and my mistakes were starting to negatively affect the rest of the vegetables – I hadn’t accounted for the huge sprawling leaves of the potato plants, which later engulfed the patch and blocked the sunlight from the rest of my veg.
The same can be said for writing. You should ideally write a concise plan of how you’re going to approach a piece of writing long before you put pen to paper.
Much like my pitiful vegetable patch, if the structure of a piece of writing isn’t correct from the get-go, then you’re going to feel the sting of your mistakes further down the line.
3. Learn when to cut back
Pruning and removing plants is by far one of the most heartbreaking aspects of gardening, but vital, nonetheless. Seeds aren’t guaranteed to germinate, so to increase your chances of a successful harvest, you should ideally be planting more than you need.
This, unfortunately, means you’re eventually going to have to do some cutting back. This isn’t just to save space either – if you have too much vegetation in one limited space, airflow and sunlight could be restricted from your healthy plants.
Sometimes you need to grasp the nettle, or in this case the seedling, and pull out the weaker plants to ensure the rest of your garden flourishes. Regardless of how difficult this can be, sometimes it’s necessary for the greater good.
This same attitude should be echoed when you’re writing content. It’s easy to get attached to the things you write, but sometimes for the rest of your piece to really shine, you need to learn when to prune some out.
The hard part is knowing what to cut – you may be staring intently at your piece of writing trying to figure out what to remove, and what to leave in, seeing every single word as necessary. But as is the case with plants, you need to think ahead to the finished product and work out which parts are the strongest, and which deserve the chop.
4. Patience is a virtue
Growing healthy plants can take months of toil before you start to see any results. You can try talking to your plants, playing them music, or even giving them special food, but none of these things will make them grow any faster.
You need to remain patient throughout the entire process and trust that if you look after them properly, your plants will eventually deliver.
This is also the case with writing. It’s human nature to want to improve as quickly as possible, but sometimes you need to be patient before you can better yourself. Writing is like a muscle – the more you work on it, the better you become.
You can’t rush your writing either, especially if you’re creating a longer piece. If this means you need to step away from your article for a while, then that’s what you must do to ensure it turns out well.
5. Learn from your failures
There are many ways you can first learn how to properly look after your plants. You can read gardening books, watch video tutorials, or even read articles, and while this will certainly help you learn, sometimes the best way to figure it out is through trial and error.
In fact, Carol Reese, a gardening expert and nature columnist who has written for several different horticulture magazines, once said:
“There is no magic dust sprinkled on a newborn babe that endows them with green thumbedness. It’s not a knack, it’s not a talent, and it’s not in your genes.”
I’m sure we’ve all killed a few plants in our day, be it from mismanagement or overwatering. As harrowing as it can be to watch your favourite plant slowly shrivel and die, it’s important that you learn from your mistakes and ensure that next time, the same thing doesn’t happen.
You shouldn’t be afraid to experiment either – if you’ve mastered the art of growing herbs, why not move up to vegetables?
Trial and error and experimentation also play a big role in writing. You need to be resilient and accept that, sometimes, things aren’t going to go your way. Failure is completely normal and, depending on how you look at it, a good thing.
As you continue writing content, you should be drawing from your past failures and using them to improve your content. Even though you will likely want to get things right from the get-go, if a particular piece of writing falls flat, or fails to have the enticing hook you imagined it to have, then you need to be ready for that and embrace the failure for what it is – a lesson.
Get in touch
If you have any questions about this blog or love plants as much as we do, then please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 0115 8965 300.