When I visited my garden today, literally harvesting the fruits of my labors, I couldn’t help but compare gardening to freelancing. Maybe that seems like an odd simile, but I think the two have a lot in common.
Think about it. A garden starts with a piece of ground that needs cultivation and care to become productive. You dig up the ground, till it, and prepare it for planting. You add compost, peat moss, or other materials to make the soil rich and fertile. You decide what to grow in your garden and what to leave out.
Once the ground is prepared, you plant seeds, water, and fertilize. Soon, tiny shoots of green miraculously break through that soil, and you feel like you have personally given birth to those tender little sprouts.
You’re not done yet, though. Now you need to weed out the bad, eliminating the negative elements. Most importantly, you need to be able to tell the difference between the beneficial plants and the undesirables. There are weeds that are lovely to look at, but they don’t belong in my garden, taking up valuable space and smothering the seedlings.
You have to be vigilant to protect your garden from pests, too. If you don’t pay close attention, the vulnerable produce could end up riddled with worm holes that leave the food unusable.
Growing a garden is a slow process. It doesn’t happen overnight. In the end, though, you get the great pleasure of harvesting the vegetables you’ve worked so hard to produce. Yes, you may have to throw away some pieces because, despite your best efforts, they were flawed, but what you end up with is the freshest, tastiest, fruits and vegetables to be found…and you did it yourself.
Writing and other freelance projects are much like gardening . You start with the inspiration to produce something positive and select where you should sow your idea for optimum results. In my case, it’s on a blank page. I prepare the soil by doing research, making notes, and gathering my thoughts. I decide what to keep and what to eliminate. When I edit, I’m weeding out stuff that just doesn’t belong and getting rid of harmful pests so I reap the best quality I can generate.
As I watch my freelance garden grow, I get the same sense of satisfaction as I do when I watch my vegetable garden develop. When it’s finally time to gather the harvest, the rewards are sweet. Nothing tastes better than a tomato still warm from the sun as you bite in and savor the rewards of your hard work. I get that same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I see my articles in print. The harvest has come in.
Whether you’re a writer, a graphic design artist, a photographer, or other freelancer, plant your garden. Water it, weed, it, feed it with thought and care, eliminate the negative, and nurture the best parts. Like gardening, freelancing takes time, patience, and hard work, but the harvest is truly bountiful.