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Are you a writing architect or gardener?

George R.R. Martin says there are two types of writer: the architect and the gardener. 

The architect ‘lays out the entire novel at a time…knows how many rooms there will be or what a roof will be made of or how high it will be…everything is there in the blueprint.’

The gardener ‘digs the hole in the ground, puts in the seed and waters it…then sees what comes up.’

An architect can save a lot of time. A clear plan means you know exactly what you will write and are less likely to take wrong turns or write yourself into a dead end. 

Being too well planned, however, can be restrictive. It may allow little room for creative surprises, to consider new opportunities. 

A gardener has total creative freedom. This writer is open to unexpected sparks of inspiration and embraces them.

Gardening your way through a writing project, however, can be messy. Ideas may seem great but may fail to grow into a story. Plots may lead nowhere. Scenes may turn out to be nothing but weeds. Stories may have to be abandoned or substantially rewritten. 

There is a third option: the landscape gardener. 

This writer begins with a rough drawing of a piece. The outline is there, sketched out in pencil, but the lines can be rubbed out and revised if better ideas sprout in the process of creation. The result is both direction and creative freedom.

What type of writer are you you?

An architect? A gardener? Or a landscape gardener? 

Write in the way that works for you and create your best building or garden. 

About Loretta Milan

Founder and Commissioning Editor of Lightbox Originals. On a mission to get the world writing and finding wellbeing through words. Loves books, tea, travel and art.

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