Why did you shred up paper and throw it in a planter, you ask. It’s symbolic, or it’s supposed to be, at least, of growing(read: planting) your idea. Just like starting a garden, writing requires work before, during, and after.
1st) Be Prepared!
You have to prepare before you write, yes, even if you are a “by the seat of your pants” kind of writer. You still need that basic idea in your head. You need a beginning. Then there’s the main character and setting. Those are all must haves even if you’re going to tweak and design the plot as you go, which we are all guilty of to some degree.
You don’t have to have every little thing laid out, or even most things, but you need something laid out to start. Otherwise, we’d never suffer writer’s block. No different than you need to prepare your garden before you plant, you need to prepare your mind before you write at least a bit. Even if you don’t know what you’re planting you still know to remove large rocks, find good dirt, and dress accordingly. Writing is the same, if there is something in the way of you writing then deal with it sooner rather than later.
2nd) Be willing to learn!
You may want to grow tomatoes and lettuce or roses and cacti, that’s fine, but you have to learn that the care for each is different. The same goes for writing. Some things don’t require research: you already know it, it’s common sense, or it is something you made up entirely. Other things demand that you expand your knowledge: how to survive extreme scenarios, how something is made, why do dogs really do that weird circling thing before laying down, etc. It’s great to write about things that you originally didn’t know much about, just be sure you research it and the genre.
Research the genre? Yes. You can learn a lot about writing by researching the genres you are interested in. An example: I was and still am interested in screenplays so I’ve been studying screenplays. Due to that, I have learned more about subtext than I ever have! I was aware of it before, but now I actively look for it in other works.
You’ve prepared your garden, learned about the plants you want to grow, now it’s time to put it to use. Water that idea! It’s time to write those first drafts, really hammer out the story you want. It’s okay if it’s a bit lanky and not very branching yet, that’s how a lot of plants start too. Keep at it.
Keep it clear of obstacles. Be sure that it sees the light of day. Soon, you’ll find your story branching out as you start footnotes of things you want to go back and add or adjust. You may be trying to think one day and find yourself doodling something from your story. Eventually, you’ll have the real bones of the story!
You’ve really got something to grab onto now! You need to flesh it out, clean it up, maybe think on it a bit, but it’s there. It’s staring back at you as you shape and guide it which leads us to:
Don’t rush your work after getting that first draft done and getting the structure worked on. You want to give it your all, I know, but sometimes that means taking your time. Full steam ahead has a time and a place, but it needs to be tempered for quality. Don’t rush to the ending and leave the resolution looking like a dead patch compared to the vibrant life you had given the rest of the story.
Even when the veggies are ripe, you don’t just rip it free of the plant with maniacal laughter as you mash the juices from it in your haste. Show the ending the same care that you did the rest. Then go back and clean up and out the unneeded parts. Wordiness is like weeds, you’ve got to trim away sometimes.
If a part doesn’t work with the story anymore then something needs to be done. Maybe it can be moved to a different area that’s better suited, or maybe it needs to be pulled entirely to be used in another work or not at all. I know that hurts to do. You want to make it clean and neat so your work can be easily navigated and enjoyed.
Congratulations! Your story is written, cleaned up, and ready for the world! It’s a long road, and this was a very long comparison. I hope it did drive home my point, though. You don’t have to be big into plotting your story, just don’t tear through it and think it’s perfect right off the bat. TLC goes a long way. Now, I have to go get my actual, physical garden ready for the season. I hope you all enjoyed my long, and probably silly, article today!