What type of writer are you?
If you’re searching for a way to classify your identity as a writer, look no further than this great quote from George R.R. Martin:
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
― George R.R. Martin
This isn’t a new idea, but it’s a great way to think about your writing. Martin’s “architects” are often discussed as “planners” or “plotters,” while his “gardeners” are known as “pantsers” (as in writing by the seat of one’s pants) and “plungers.”
If you’re an architect, a planner or a plotter, you always have a good idea of where your writing is headed. You’re all about preparation — constantly outlining and organizing and thinking deliberately ahead. Having a clear path before you can help you stay productive. But you might also find yourself trapped in a narrative that isn’t exciting to you, or you might sometimes feel your writing is lacking spontaneity and energy.
If you’re a gardener, a pantser or a plunger, you figure things out as you go, letting your whims, instincts and curiosity take over as you write. You’re constantly surprising yourself with writing that feels organic and creative. But you might often find yourself with a mess of a first draft or stories that lack a clear narrative structure.
If your architect or gardener ways are working for you, then don’t change a thing! But if you find yourself running into problems based on regularly over- or under-preparing, try incorporating the best of both worlds. You might try planning the bare bones of your story — just enough to give you some structure — and then letting your imagination run wild as you connect the dots. No matter what type of writer you are, it always helps to pause for a moment and look at your work from a different perspective. Stay open to new ways of writing until you discover your own method of creating engaging, well-structured work.
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners.” @GeorgeRRMartin Which are you? Tweet This
If you’re an architect, a planner or a plotter, you always have a good idea of where your writing is headed. Tweet This
If you’re a gardener, a pantser or a plunger, you let your whims, instincts and curiosity take over as you write. Tweet This
Which type of writer are you? Let us know in the comments below.
There’s much to be said about the craft of writing. That’s why each week on the Abbott Press blog, we’ll take a look at what some of our favorite authors and thinkers have to say about this challenging, fulfilling and sometimes mystifying art. We hope these discussions will help you to further refine your own ideas about writing and to achieve new insights into your own creative process. Browse Weekly Writing Quotes »