write • nourish • grow

Do You Know Your Why for Writing?

When you're stuck, go back to your why for writing. I didn’t write much this summer. I managed a couple of blog posts, a few pages in my journal. Not much else. I could blame it on time or my kids or wanting to take a break during the lazy days of summer. But really, I’d lost my why.

Do you know why you are writing?

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I’ve spent time on blog posts for clients, emails, sales pages—pieces that helped them achieve their why. And I love that work. I enjoy helping people, many of them moms like me with littles at home trying to be present and get things done, reach their audiences and their goals.

Still I want more. I want to write about the things that matter to me. I want to tell you about the best frosting in the world happening in my kitchen right now and about how neighborhood can be like family. I want to talk about freeze warnings and my debate on taking the sure thing of an early harvest or the gamble of leaving some to keep growing. I want to use my words for food and family, gardens and grief. That’s why I started write • nourish • grow.

Roughly two years ago, I was trying to figure out “What’s next?” I had been a freelance writer and editor for 14 years, but the market was changing. My life was changing.

I wanted to do something different, but didn’t know what. I ended up having a chat with Megan Flatt, a business coach for mom entrepreneurs, who told me, “You can’t think yourself to clarity. You need to act.” So I acted.

I jumped into this blog with ideas about running writing + cooking retreats and writing for food magazines. I gave myself space to grow. And for a year, I played with that idea. I wrote about my garden and food and parenting and writing. I ran online writing retreats and shared weekly writing prompts (I’m not done with these things yet). It was fun, but not the job I needed.

But through that action, I discovered the work I’m doing now, the ghost blogging, the editorial calendar planning, and content creation. I found clients I love and a working rhythm that fits my life.

And in the midst of all that I wondered if I needed to start blogging about copywriting and editorial calendars and blogging. I felt ugh every time I thought about it. But I felt like I should. I mean, who was going to hire somebody writing about the changing seasons in nature and life and grief when they were looking to grow their business?

The people I most like to work with bring their heart to their business. They connect with potential customers and clients through story and real experience. That’s what I do. Sure, I’ll pay attention to key words and headlines, but I start with the audience and the why.

And while I am a copywriter and content manager, that’s not my why in this space. I’m not planning on writing about copywriting here.

I’m going to keep writing about love and loss and abundance and paying attention. I’m going to keep following the flow of seasons. I’m going to keep talking about creative writing as I make more space for creativity in my life. And I’m going to invite you along too, to act, not just think.

There are a lot of whys for writing. What are yours?

On no rain and not writing

I’m on my porch, listening to the sound or rain filtering through leaves, hitting the already wet pavement directly, splattering in gathered puddles. Taps and trickles, plunks and plops.

A green haze is creeping across the crispy grass that looked like it might never recover. The plants in my garden and along the sidewalk stand a little taller. I draw myself up a bit too.

I went to bed to the sound of gentle rain last night and woke to the same this morning.

It’s been a dusty summer of hopeful promises. Dark clouds gather each afternoon. The wind turns the leaves up. We pull in laundry, hold off on pulling out the hose. A few scattered drops. Rainbows, but no rain.

Glance at my garden, peak into my pantry. It’s been a slow season in many ways. Flipping through photos from three years ago, I find a lush garden, shelves piled high with pickles and jams. It’s all going slower this year. Some seasons are like that.

Production is slow and things are passing quickly—raspberries are done, my cucumbers are wilting, greens bolted early. I’ve stopped asking things to slow down, and just moving at the speed of this summer.

Back in June, I rejoiced in the rain that encouraged my seedlings, and I dared hope that a recently published essay would end a writing drought. My writing, like my garden, has struggled with a dry spell this summer. I got rain, but not enough. But I keep watering. I weed and check in. My yield may be small this summer, but I haven’t given up. I may not produce much fruit or many flowers, but sink my roots deeper and know I will thrive again.

As I’ve been writing, the rain grew in intensity, crescendoing to a roar. A river runs down the hill and the little puddles by the roadside extend down the street. Tiny droplets evicted me from my seat to one even deeper on the porch. I keep myself dry, but I soak it in. I come back to the page to see if my writing can green up like the grass, perk up like the perennials that had wilted by the walkway.

 

How do we slow this season?

Peonies and each school year go so fast. Can we slow things down?My peonies are in their glory, bursting from tight round knobs to fluffy, frilly fullness. For days before they burst forth, I peeked in on them. Not yet. But the knobs swelled, the ants got active. And then one day last week, I watched the first unfurl. As I went back and forth pulling weeds, getting compost, hustling to get the ends of the vegetable garden planted, I saw it loosen and spread its petals.

Since then I’ve barely had time to glance at them. I cut a few to bring in with their showy color and scent. But it’s been a whirlwind of end of year school activities and appointments and work deadlines.

I want to slow it all down.

I want to enjoy the peonies while they are here, before they make way for morning glory and sunflower and lily. Before them lilac and forsythia seemed to rush by this year. Or was it me rushing. Or was it time speeded up again.

Yesterday was the last preschool pick up I’ll do. Ever. I’ve been so focused on all the things that needed to be done—the field trip permission slip to sign, remembering to pack a lunch, helping out at field day, special snacks, teacher’s gifts (not done yet)—I lost sight of this transition.

Four years ago, I brought my big girl to preschool and my little one tagged along, so eager for her turn. She washed hands, created her own sign in on the board, burst into an activity. She couldn’t wait for her turn to stay.

Two years ago, I hugged her goodbye in her classroom. Her turn finally. The past four years did not feel that fast, but I look up surprised that we are here, ready to say goodbye to her preschool for good.

She’s moving just next door to kindergarten. We will see her teacher’s still. But I won’t see them each morning and hear how things are going. I won’t watch as my little girl washes hands, hangs up her bag, rushes to the board to sign in. I won’t chat with her or watch her with her friends as she starts her day.

She can’t wait for kindergarten. I’m excited too. The long swaths of the day from the morning bus stop to the afternoon squeak of bus breaks is alluring. What will you do? Work. Write. Run, maybe. Yoga. Take care of the errands that never seemed to fit between preschool pick up and bus time. It can fill so quickly. Right now I’m trying to breathe into it, not let it get filled to fast with any old thing. Right now, I’m realizing what we are done with.

No more preschool or preschool payments. No more drop offs and pick ups. No more playing in the park at noon or lunches together. No more naps.

But she is riding a bike and picking out words she knows. She is going on her first overnight with my parents next week.

Each ending a beginning. Last year my big girl was devastated by the end of the year. Little girl doesn’t seem to care about this ending. She’s already looking ahead, wanting to keep up with her big sister, wanting to do the things she Peonies will fade to lilies and sunflowers. Preschool to kindergarten to first grade. Slow down.can’t do yet.

She raced through these years like the forsythia and lilacs and peonies this year. We’ll come back to this space again next June, transitioning again. We’ll say goodbye again next year, closing the door on kindergarten. The peonies will bloom again. I’ll wait for them. I’ll savor them, be sad when they go. And I’ll love the lilies that bloom and the curving garlic scapes and the tall sunflowers towering over me. Can we just slow it all down a little?

About Me

Hi, I’m Sara. I’m a writer. I help people tell the stories they need to tell. Want to get to know me a little better? I share my own stories and experiences as a writer and mom on this blog and in articles and essays. I draw upon the changing seasons in my life, in my garden, and on my table.