By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
Have you found your tribe?
This quote by Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin in last month’s Rolling Stone magazine seems apropos in light of yesterday’s entry on blooming where you’re planted.
“I have names for those writers: I call them architects and gardeners. The architect, before he drives a nail into a plank, has all the blueprints and knows what the house is going to be like and where the pipes are going to run. Then there are the gardeners, who dig a whole in the ground and plant a seed and water it – with there blood sometimes- and something comes up. They know what the planted, but there’s still lots of surprises.”
So are you a planner or an improviser? Maybe this fun quiz from Quizilla can help you figure it out.
Turns out, I’m a narrative writer – which makes sense, since I love telling stories. According to the quiz authors, this means that I “love reading and writing long, descriptive passages that read like poetry, and are full of imagery.” Regular readers of this blog are probably nodding their head in agreement – I’m definitely a dilettante poet with a narrative streak.
The quiz offers helpful advice too – in my case, I’m warned not to overdo the description. “Not everyone wants to know the exact shade of green on the hills.”
It can be helpful to discover what kind of writer you are, in part because it will help you determine which tools, tricks and methods work best for you. In a 2010 article entitled “Making Time to Write,” Cheryl Bolen explains how all writers are unique:
“Every author’s goals, writing schedule, and methods are different. Some of us can whip out 20 pages a day; others labor to produce five. You need to determine if you work best doing a set number of pates, or hours, or scenes per day or per week.”
I’ve tried on all different sorts of “writerly” hats over the years. I’ve been a journalist, an essayist and a legal document specialist. I’ve behaved like Martin’s architect, planning out plots like blueprints, setting up characters on note cards and building my novel one brick at a time. And at other times I write in a manic state, words spilling out as fast as I can type – storylines and character arcs whizzing by in a blur. Lately I suspect I’m more of the absentminded gardener – spilling seed pods indiscriminately on fertile soil, dirty sidewalks and grassy knolls – hoping something I plant will blossom into something that can be harvest later.
In the end it’s not so much about labels as it is about identifying your tribe. Once you know where you belong, you can begin to make connections and identify potential mentors. Keep in mind that it’s all fluid and changeable – this year you’re a gardener, but you might find that the architect’s style is more your speed. Or perhaps you’ll craft a hybrid that’s all your own, pulling techniques and methods from a wide swath of writers and other creatives.
Personally, I eat up stories that involve the writing process: Hemingway in Paris (A Moveable Feast), Isabella Allende in San Francisco (Paula), and Stephen King scary up twists and turns in Maine (On Writing). So collect some favorites, explore some alternatives and begin cultivating a writer’s identity that all your own. It will give you the confidence to pursue your craft and aid you in developing a schedule and discipline for your writer’s life.
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