• Bonny Millard

Gardening Tips Not! How Spending 30 Minutes in My Yard Relates to Writing


I’ve never been one to work in my yard much. I come from a line of farmers but digging in the dirt does not fill me with joy. My grandfather and my brother, Bart, both grew tasty vegetables in the summer, but the most I do is plant a few bulbs or annuals. The flowers have to thrive along with the weeds.

Apparently, I’m really good at growing trees in my gutter.


Mowing is a chore I usually put on the backburner, especially when it is extremely hot. My front yard takes in the morning sun so even that is not an option.

Weed eating and hacking down undesired saplings, planted thanks to the squirrels, is truly a last resort. This week, however, I earmarked for doing yardwork. Tuesday night I mowed the lawn, and I decided that I would cut down some of the popup trees today. I would much rather have been watching Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 like I did last night.

When doing these mundane and back aching chores, I entertain myself with thoughts of writing and ongoing projects to pass the time. That’s where this post was born, out among the dead walnut and mimosa saplings and the perennial (meaning the damn things grow back every year) vines that I have no clue as to what they are called.

Almost as soon as I went out, the heat was so intense that I decided to limit my yardwork to 30 minutes. I worked up quite a sweat and made a great pile of debris. That’s when it hit me. Writers, particularly those who have to make a living by means other than their personal writing projects, find it difficult to carve out time to write. They can dream and desire, but nothing will get written. I have been guilty of this too.


Many accomplished writers say you have to write every day, and that’s a great maxim, but it’s not always reality for people who have to work full-time and have other responsibilities outside of their careers. But like the yardwork or other necessary tasks, why not set dates with yourself each week for something you love and promise to write for 30 minutes?

Like I discovered this evening, I had a big pile of dead trees and vines in only 30 minutes. My yard is still out of control, but if I spend a little time each week, I will begin to knock it back.

The same idea applies to your writing project. If you just knock out a few sentences each week, they will begin to accumulate into a story pile. Later you can shape them up. When you’re working on a large project such as a novel or memoir, it can seem like a daunting task, but consist work will produce the results you want.

And sometimes, ideas grow from the strangest places so don’t be afraid to cultivate them. I don’t really try to grow trees in my gutter…but sometimes it happens. Be on the lookout for the unusual that might take you places you never expected to go.

Writing is a passion for me, but so many other things take precedence. By spending a short period of time working on my project, I begin to see the fruit of my heart. You can too.

As I gathered up my clippers tonight, I noticed one small walnut sapling and paused long enough to snip the intruder. Tired and spent, I left the deceased not far from where I clipped it. I’ll pick it up tomorrow. Another lesson about writing. Stop in the middle, and you’ll have a place to start tomorrow.


Millard is a writer and a project development editor. If you’d like to see how she can help you, email her at bonny dot millard AT gmail dot com and ask for a complimentary Project Discovery Call to learn more.

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