To Plan or Not to Plan?

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Writing is tough. That’s really obvious to anyone who’s ever had to write anything ever. Writers everywhere have different styles of writing and of planning out their writing. A lot of writers tend to fall into two main camps: architects and gardeners.

What is an architect-style writer versus a gardener-type writer, you may ask.

An architect-style writer will basically plan their writing as best they can before they start writing. I tend to be more of an architect style writer. I come up with an idea and then I try and plot out what happens. Depending on the writer, the outline or planning stage may differ. Some writers will make a point-by-point list-style outline. Some people will brainstorm or mindmap their ideas. Some writers will do freewriting exercises to get their ideas down and then organize them. Some writers will plan out each scene’s purpose and create character arcs in colour-coded charts. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the architect’s planning.

On the other hand, the gardener tends to be more organic. There is very little to no planning, just the ideas in the gardener’s head that then end up on the page. The gardener will write and write without stopping for planning. In fact, for the gardener, planning actually makes it harder for them to come up with ideas! One may wonder how this style of writing could possibly work, but that’s what editing is for. Once a gardener-style writer has their ideas down on paper, then they go back and revise.

Then again, maybe a combination of both types of writer would work as well! For example, for all the architect plans their story, sometimes the characters will do something unexpected and all that planning has to take a sudden turn. Or perhaps the gardener needs just a little planning for an aspect of their riveting-but-confusing detective story. There’s no right way to be a writer. The only real rule is not to give up. We all start somewhere.

What style do you like to use?

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