Friday, July 22, 2022

What to do When Your Writing Doesn't Bear Fruit

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

If You Can’t Grow Tomatoes, Plant Zinnias

For years I tried to grow tomatoes. I planted them on the north side of my garden. I planted them on the south side. I planted them in pots. I even planted them along the fence line where my neighbor’s sprinkler would water them, with no success.

I’d begin each season excited and hopeful, and by July I’d be ripping out stunted, diseased, fruitless plants.

I expressed my frustration to one of my dental patients as we waited for the dentist to check his teeth.

“I’m giving up on tomatoes. I can’t afford to water them, and we don’t get enough rain for them to thrive. Every year I get my hopes up, and every year I’m disappointed.”

“Why don’t you plant zinnias?” he said.


“Yes, zinnias. You can’t eat ‘em, but they’re beautiful. They love the sun and can hold up under the heat. And they don’t require much water.”

The next spring, I bought a packet of seeds, prepared the soil, and planted. Soon, tiny seedlings pushed through the ground. Before I could say, “Dead tomato,” they blossomed into a multi-colored patch of joy.

I picked bunches, shared them, and saved some seeds for the next year. When spring came, I ignored the tomato seedlings at the garden center and planted an even bigger patch of zinnias. This year, the colorful flowers fill my entire garden. I tuck them into mason jars and give them to friends and neighbors, anyone who needs a smile.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering, what in the world does this have to do with writing?


My writing career began in journalism. I wrote feature articles for a local newspaper and later a regional magazine. When those avenues of publication dried up, I submitted Christian living articles to online and print publications. The pandemic caused several of my most reliable places of publication to go under, so I explored other options. 

One summer I wrote blog content for businesses and websites. I wrote pet sympathy cards for a greeting card line. Then I graduated to writing copy for human greeting cards (smile). When those opportunities ended, I researched something different. (Google is a wonderful thing. Check out this article about paid writing opportunities.)

As my patient suggested when my tomato crop failed, I took the skills and desire God gave me and redirected it. Instead of planting tomatoes, I planted zinnias. When I did, I learned new skills, made great writing connections, and added to my writing resume.

Perhaps you’re enjoying a bumper crop of writing fruit right now. I’m so glad. If you’re struggling, or if you haven’t yet found your writing sweet spot, why not set the tomatoes aside and plant zinnias? Or marigolds? Or Blue Lake pole beans?

You may find a change is just what you need to bear greater fruit in your writing journey.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a story about how a writing “redirection” opened up a new area of writing? 


Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, writing instructor, women’s ministry speaker, and career dental hygienist. She writes for Our Daily Bread, Guideposts, Revive Our Hearts, and Lori’s latest devotional, Refresh Your Prayers, Uncommon Devotions to Restore Power and Praise, released March 1 with Our Daily Bread Publishing. Connect with her at or on Facebook, Twitter(@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


  1. Debora Coty, author of the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed seriesJuly 22, 2022 at 6:13 AM

    Excellent point, Lori. And thankfully the good Lord provides all kinds of fertilizer to enable us to produce beautiful, healthy zinnias when those tomatoes wither. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Right you are, Debora. God, the Master Gardener, wants us to be fruitful. This truth gives me courage when the tomatoes wither and I have to dig another hole to plant something else. Thanks so much for chiming in today :) God's blessings on your writing.

  2. Been there done that, Lori. Good advice. Martin

    1. Martin, you're the perfect example of someone who's not afraid to try something different. You're a great example to all of us. Blessings to you and M! ~Lori

  3. I started out writing scripts for use in the church to set-up our pastor's sermons. I thought I'd write a devotion book for Christian actors. I got 3 on paper and the well dried up. I couldn't come up with any more. Then, with the Lord chuckling in my heart, I turned to fiction. And the Holy Spirit began to whisper story ideas to me. It's been twenty years and He hasn't stopped whispering.

    1. I love your story so much! As you've described, sometimes it takes us a while to arrive at exactly where God wants us. But He's so good to continue to direct if we don't give up. During those tomato times, it's wise to keep the channels of communication open so we can ask God, "Is this it, Lord?" And be able to hear His voice of guidance. Blessings to you. I pray God gives you twenty more zinnias, for His glory! ~Lori

  4. Lori,

    Great insight in this article not to get locked into one idea about our writing. Thank you. The world is full of great opportunity for our writing but we have to find that right fit--and ikt will be different for each of us. I have a lengthy list of writing possibilities in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and will put a link to this free resource below. Hope it helps some people.

    author of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams sample

  5. Terry, I remember a post you wrote not too long ago about diversifying and not being afraid to try new things. I know from your story that you've been a great example of this in your long and accomplished publishing life. Thanks so much for sharing the resource. Your generosity blesses us all. ~Lori

  6. In March, I tried to write the second novel in my mystery series. And I got nowhere quickly. Since that book wasn't under contract, I set it aside when I took advantage of an opportunity to submit a short story to an anthology. The change refreshed my writing.

    1. I love how these times of writing “off roading” refresh us. Blessings to you, friend!