A Shovel to Dirt is like a Pen to Paper

The first time I heard a shovel crunching into the dirt was in my grandparents’ garden. Before we began planting, my grandma and I picked up gardening gloves, hand shovels, rakes and fertilizer. Then we gathered potatoes, squash and okra seeds. I fondly remember my grandma saying, “You have to put some love into planting the seeds, or else they just won’t grow the same.” It’s one of my favorite memories – and life lessons.

Now, as I plant my own garden, I do it with the same love, care and process my grandmother taught me. Over the years, I discovered another interest my grandmother and I shared – a love of writing. And when I began working as a writer at Brown Bag Marketing, I realized gardening and writing are very comparable processes. Here are a few ways the two are similar.

Lend extra time and attention

Gardening requires more than simply making a hole, sticking the seed in, covering it up with soil and watering it. The same goes for writing – one cannot simply take pen to paper and write a perfect blog, story or headline. Impactful writing takes time, love, thoughtful preparation and continuous refining. Just like planting a garden, extra time and care bring everything to life.

Include strategic planning

Gardening and writing each require detailed planning for a solid foundation and sustainable implementation. Gardens are strategically designed to ensure each plant has enough space and sun exposure for full growth. Just as vegetables need a specific amount of fertilizer and soil, successful content requires an outline­­ to ensure every point is covered. 

When writing, the subject and key points must be fleshed out and planned before execution. A blog must have a well-thought-out topic and in-depth research. Once you finish collecting research, decide what needs to be in the blog and begin organizing the content. Once the main ideas are in place, arrange the other points under each to form a flawless outline.

Trust the process

Similar to types of copy, each vegetable has specific needs and processes for successful growth. For example, carrot seeds must be planted in soft, nutrient-rich soil in a trench about 2 inches deep. Place 1-2 seeds an inch apart from one another and cover them with loose dirt. On the other hand, potatoes have a very different process. They’re grown from planting old cubes of potatoes with eyes on them facing up in the soil. The trench must be 4-5 inches deep with the spuds around 10 inches apart.

The story is similar for content. The goal of making an impact is consistent, but the method of getting there is unique. For example, writing an attention-grabbing headline takes tens, if not hundreds of bad or ‘not quite there’ headlines to land one perfect headline. Writing the options out by hand provides a flow for creative thoughts, as well as the chance to triangulate bits and pieces of each idea. Usually, the ending headline comes from bits of several ideas.

Improvise when necessary

Writing and gardening present the opportunity for unexpected obstacles. That may mean you hit writer’s block or have an unexpected need to change the entire concept. And that’s okay. Regroup and push forward. Just like gardening, nurture the work as you go by cleaning it up or adding something, so it grows properly.

Keep learning and growing

A good piece of content takes meticulous planning, patience and care. You don’t become a professional gardener overnight – just like you don’t learn how to be an expert copywriter on your first project. It takes time, practice, and trial and error. It’s okay to fail in both gardening and writing because you can learn from every failure. As you grow in skill, you grow as a person.

Next time you attempt to write or plant a garden, try to fail harder.