We plough the fields and scatter…

I am old enough to remember singing Harvest Festival hymns at school – and thoroughly enjoying them. I love the cycle of the farming year and where I live I am fortunate enough to see it. There are times this rural corner of West Sussex can look like something out of The Ladybird Book of Proper Farming.


Traditionally Autumn is a time for ploughing and I have long had a soft spot for the word ‘fallow’. Not just for the beautiful dear – but the concept of leaving the land to rest. The sight of warm brown corduroy fields always pleases – and a tractor with a comet-trail of gulls makes it even better.


My writing is doing that at present – having a rest.

The idea of fallow land comes from the process of crop rotation I looked into it and found a surprising and rather satisfying correlation with what I am doing.

I am deliberately taking time out before my first attempt at NaNoWriMo  (National Novel Writing Month) – thirty days of writing 2k a day come Hull, hell or high water. It’s a tall order – but I think it could be a fine way to bash out a rubbishy first draft and outrun both the Procrastination Imps and the Bog Monster of Self-Doubt.

If you remember your British Agrarian Revolution*, letting land lie fallow as part of crop rotation brings these benefits:

  • restores nutrients to the soil
  • minimises pests and diseases
  • decreases soil erosion

I hope that having a planned breather will;

  • give me chance to replenish my stock of inspiration (I am still researching & reading)
  • minimise my errors and writing tics – avoid rehashes of same old, same old
  • decrease my weariness

I will add that continuous production of the same thing in the same place  leads to the need for artificial inputs. In the same way that I would endorse organic farming, I think writers need to take a holistic approach – or risk being depleted.

A change is as good as a rest they say, so I am sketching and taking notes and doing writing exercises to keep up my momentum, I hope. It’s just going in a different direction.


  * and even if you don’t recall Turnip Townsend and Jethro Tull (no, not the one with the one-legged flute-player), it still does.

 Fellow creators – how do you approach a new project?

4 thoughts on “We plough the fields and scatter…

  1. Good luck Philippa. Nanowrimo is fun ( can be torture too) but mostly lots of fun. you really do lead a double life during november. And when you’ve done that 2+k a day is nothing.

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