It’s harvest time again. Tomatoes and squash, apples and peppers overflow from the bins at the local farmer’s market. The scent of dried grass and decaying leaves float through the air. Cool mornings are welcome—and so are the finished pages of my latest manuscript that I can almost put behind me. I’m finishing a novel that has challenged me tremendously this last year, not just as a writer stretching and growing in new directions, but as a writer in an ever-shifting industry. Needless to say, it’s been an emotional year and my journey with this book has been a rocky one. But now, as my manuscript ripens, I’m glad I stayed the course. I’m proud, even. Each novel teaches us something about ourselves as people, as writers. What I’ve learned is to…
THINK LIKE A FARMER
Trust Your Intuition: Farmer’s combine their years of learning with an innate connection to their land, their animals. Writers work the same way, with time and practice. Is there something nagging you in the back of your brain about your WIP? Some dangling plot thread, some weak character? Perhaps it’s the tone. Is it humorous enough? Does it evoke a sense of doom? Does this premise feel like “the one”, or the one for now? Perhaps your gut is telling you to take a chance in a new direction. Learn to trust your instincts and intuition. There’s a reason a siren is going off somewhere in your subconscious. It’s trying to tell you something that could turn your manuscript—or your writing career—inside out.
Watch for Patterns: Farmers track weather and seasonal patterns, the yield each year, and the varying needs of their livestock and crops so they may grow strong and healthy, flourish. Keep a writing almanac to track your own habits. Which part of your writing process gives you the most trouble? When do you feel good about your manuscript? Low? How does your word count vary from week to week? Tracking your routines is an interesting lesson in who you are as a writer. Better yet, it may serve as a tool to help you shake off the gloom and self-doubt when you need it most. When I reach forty thousand words in a first draft and again around seventy, I decide I’m a talentless hack and should give up altogether—until I checked my writing journal to see how I faired with the last book. Sure enough, it happened at the same spot in a previous manuscript, same feelings. A reassurance I can push through and bring my current ms to fruition.