“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… The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if they’ve 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
I think this quote is brilliant and doesn’t just apply to writing. We can all be architects; it’s important to plan, organise and prepare. But when it comes to doing good work, being an architect can make us fearful. We often want to “have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before (we) even nail the first board up”.
This fear can paralyse us and prevent us from doing the work that matters. I know I constantly wrestle with this when writing, trying to do anything to distract myself from getting words down on paper. But sooner or later, we need to face that fear and create. Only then can we see what will grow and nurture. It won’t be perfect the first time we plant, or the second or many times after. But the opposite of wrong isn’t perfect, it’s better. And we can choose every day to do better work than we did yesterday.
Will you choose to be a gardener or an architect in your work this week?