Finding the Muse in the Veggie Patch

One of the first things I did when I got back from Nevada was plant a vegetable garden. It wasn’t what I expected to be doing. I thought I’d end up glued to my computer, tapping out everything I had learned, and applying it post haste.


My head was overflowing with inspiration and that was part of the problem. I needed time to let everything settle – to absorb all the wonderful experiences and writerly suggestions – to put things in perspective..

When I think about it, it wasn’t all that surprising that I felt the need to plant something. Growing vegetables is all about nurturing  – putting care into something and watching it flourish. It’s pretty much like that with story ideas.  They have to be nurtured but they also have to have time to grow and flourish.

IMAG4979Nevada was full of epiphanies, not just in relation to the manuscript I am working on with Ellen Hopkins (although there were plenty to do with that as well.)

I found things that people said, and tips they gave were things I could use in so many different ways. A comment here or there, someone’s observations about their own manuscript – small things that triggered ideas for big changes in my own works.

IMAG4954In fact at the moment, I have a number of manuscripts competing for my attention – main characters jumping up and down saying, “Pick me, Pick me.”

My verse novel characters need more back story and problems,  my YA thriller needs more contrast in character voices – and my mid grade needed an element to ground the character and the story.

IMAG4962Over the coming weeks I’m going to share the things I learned and the changes they will bring about to my writing.

But for now, I’m still savouring the experience and sorting out priorities in my head.

My tips

  1. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with ideas and suggestions, take time out. Do something completely different, something creative in a different way. This will allow your brain time to process everything and work out priorities.
  2. Write down everything that’s going on in your brain – have a separate page for each manuscript or project – that way you don’t get confused or stressed from trying to keep it all in your head.
  3. When you’re ready, give yourself time to write.
  4. Write down everyone’s suggestions, but don’t feel you have to take them all on board – some you will disregard completely – others will be triggers for completely different ideas.
  5. Decide which project you are going to focus on, and go for it – the others can wait.
  6. When you are considering everyone’s suggestions, don’t lose sight of YOUR vision for the story.  I write down in large letters, “My character wants …” I keep this piece of paper with me to keep reminding myself what my story is really about.
  7. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Allow the creativity to flow in whichever direction it wants – don’t try to force things or contain your ideas.
  8. Walk the dog, relax and follow your creative heart.

I’d love to know how you handle things when your brain is overflowing with ideas and stimulus. Feel free to share your tips in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)


14 thoughts on “Finding the Muse in the Veggie Patch

  1. …such sage advise thank you …I agree with your pointers for keeping the flow going and totally relate to the place I do my best thinking/creating/musing …the veggie garden! Kindred spirit …just what I needed today …it’s pouring with rain, misty and cold although it’s spring in Oz, perfect writing weather, however …Penny

  2. Hi Dee, Thanks for your inspirational tips after your trip. When I need time out I get on the bike – I don’t ride on the streets though but on the beach where I don’t have to think about traffic, avoiding pedestrians or crossing roads – so I can just cycle, enjoy the scenery, smells, breeze and let my brain drift and it always latches onto something in my novel and either solves a problem or I re-envisage a scene in a deeper way and go home to re-write it.

  3. Great to hear about your trip, Dee, and to see the lovely photos. I’m stuck on one particular story right now so am looking forward to working on new ideas once I get this one under control.

  4. I haven’t tried cycling Taryn but I can see how that would be wonderfully inspiring too – and you can cover a lot of ground quite quickly and sometimes it’s sensory detail that sparks new things.

    Happy writing and riding:)


  5. Timely as ever. Been thinking of you today, this week and my mc. We are getting on fine, taking our time to get to know each other. She hangs around quite a lot now. I hope I can introduce you to her soon Dee. 😉 How does your garden grow? With silver bells I hope so you can hear what the muses are saying!

  6. Dee, I tend to cook when I need to settle something. It doesn’t much matter what it is: bread, soup, curry, stir-fry — as long as it takes some time and doesn’t send me back to the computer right away, I’m good. If I have nothing to cook and the freezer is full, I’ll play some sort of game or read a book, go to the beach, just basically get away from the writing for a while. Planting a garden is a great way to let things settle. Keep up informed of its progress.


Comments are closed.