The earth and writing…of course they go together. Nothing is as inspiring as working with and connecting to the earth, and now that spring is in full swing, combine your time outside with your writing practice. Experience the power of this natural earth/writing symbiosis by keeping a garden journal and creating a writer space in your garden. Allow inspiration to grow along with your garden!
No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity
in tilling a field as in writing a poem.
–Booker T. Washington
How to Keep a Garden Journal
There are as many different ways to keep a garden journal as there are plant varieties. I like a journal I can carry out to the garden, but my computer comes in handy too. I take photos of the spots I’m working on and place them in my journal along with notes and plans. Surfing the Internet to add ideas for future projects makes for great inspiration. (The Internet can be a wonderful resource for gardening advice, too!) My garden journal has pages with no lines, so writing is just the start. Photos, sketches, even dried flowers—with a blank page there are no limits on imagination.
The practical side of your garden journal
You can include pages for plotting out and planning your space, checklists of steps you need to get your soil ready, planting records (for seeds or seedlings), notes on where you get your plants and seeds, fertilizing, plant profiles with photos and how each plant grows in your garden, entries on pest and disease problems and how you solved them, to-do lists by month, and you can keep track of the cost of your garden (maybe a good idea—then again…J ) Plus, keeping a journal can help you remember from year to year what worked, what didn’t, and what you’d like to do in the future.
The creative side of your garden journal
Keep photos for inspiration, pages to sketch out ideas, brainstorm non-growing additions to your garden (a pergola, a labyrinth made of stones, a meditation and writing place, maybe even a water feature like a pond). Write about different types of gardens you can create: container, raised, window box, hummingbird or bee garden, even a miniature fairy garden. And of course, use pages to let your imagination roam while in your garden. Write whatever comes to mind—poetry, an essay, short story, even the start of a novel—you may be surprised at what writing in your garden will inspire.
Writing beyond the garden
Collect recipes using vegetables you grow, canning information and records, and of course—ideas and thoughts for next year’s garden. Don’t stop with your writing. If you become inspired to work on a new painting or art project thanks to your garden, jot down the idea so you don’t lose it. Surrounded by nature is the perfect place to create. Don’t forget to build your own creative space—a writing-nook in your garden. A bench or large stone will work equally as well to give you a place to let your mind and pen wander.
Curious about other types of journals? Here are 12 types to try.
Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere.