Thinning Carrots

I am in charge of the school garden this week. It’s a bit like trespassing – taking care of a garden you didn’t plant.  As a novice gardener, I question what type of care these varieties need.   

I do know one thing. Thin those carrots.

Initially, I hesitate to pull the teeny tiny seedlings. I picture the tender, little hands who planted these seeds. Or in this case, tossed in a zealous handful. It means destroying significant clumps of delicate vegetation, well over half the plants. I hear those little wisps quietly scream…

Noooo, evil hand…give us a chancewe will growww…”

But thinning keeps the entire lot from dying.   

Are you bracing yourself for the inevitable cheesy gardening metaphor?

More and more, I feel inundated by massive clumps of undernourished words. Now when I read, “55 Ways to…” I click away fast and furious. I even shut down at “15 Steps Toward…”  Give me 5. Better yet, give me 3.

When it comes to ideas, articles, stories and speeches, we hate thinning carrots. Why is editing so hard?  

Because everything has potential. It all starts from the same seed mix. It should ALL be given a chance to grow, right?   

Because we might weed the wrong plant. Pull a strong point. Cut this phrase or prune that anecdote, and risk confusing, even losing, the audience. Keep it all….JUST IN CASE. 

Because every word is of Absolute. Vital. Importance.  

Because leaving things out is mean.  Poor omitted words. Everyone should get to play.    

But think about the last quality article that grabbed you. A riveting speech that made you applaud in earnest. In your own living room. What drew you in? More than likely, it wasn’t information overload. How did it leave you? Wanting more.  

The healthiest words, spoken or written, leave us hungry for that next delicious bite.

Sacrificing weaker ideas and unessential detail allows stronger ideas to settle into the space they need. This breathing room gives your audience time to digest their meaning. It’s hard to digest when in a constant state of chewing.

It’s survival of the fittest . Editing produces the most vibrant carrots to dangle in front of noses. Follow me.

carrots that command attention     photo by alvimann/

Hate to pull and destroy? Divide and transplant. Give smaller ideas their own fertile patch. Some take root. Some disintegrate into the ground. Like my stupid parsley. Apparently, parsley didn’t want to play.

Back to the school garden. Insecurity crept as I surveyed my work. Did I pull too many?  Will Irate Garden Mom post a scathing remark on the school Facebook page about that idiot who totally MUTILATED our lovely patch of baby carrots. You know, the wispy kind that absolutely thrives by growing in clumps?

Doubt it. One glance today shows me they’re already stronger.

Are you on information overload? Is it time to thin those rows?


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