How a Hobby Helps You Become a Better Writer

This is one of my favorite times of year. The kitchen is cluttered with pots, seedlings pressing their way into the light. Any chance I get, I’m outside turning over the garden soil, pulling weeds, and putting in the work to make something out of nothing. 

It’s easy to compare the progress on a novel to the growth of seeds—and on the days when the writing’s not going well, it’s all too easy to beat myself up for not having a result that’s as tangible as that just-ripened cherry tomato that smells like musk and earth, and which my old dog would have delicately nibbled off the vine.

Gardening is a lot like writing, but it’s also a break from writing.

What I value about gardening, aside from the ability to eat what I grow, is that it takes me outside of my head and into my body.

It gets my hands off the page and deep into the earth. It provides me moments of being present, moments where I notice the new tomato blossoms or pluck off the spent leaves or shrug over the hole something nibbled in my strawberry.

Gardening helps me to be spacious, while finding solutions to what isn’t going well. It helps me to rest in the present. And all of that makes me a better writer. 

Find things that make you a better writer that are materially different from writing and reading. Look for the larger lessons in where and how you spend your time that inform how you show up for the page. Your writing will thank you for it. 

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