This is probably not a question you ask yourself very often, but spending a bit of time pondering how you feel most comfortable writing will help you find when it comes to getting started. You might have no idea what sort of writer you are; the concept of being 'comfortable' when writing might seem really different from your experience of writing. So, let’s start with an easier question: what kind of maker are you?
Are you someone who designs through making? You get an idea and you run with it. You explore your material, play around with processes, to see what works and what doesn’t. You tend to respond to what happens while you are making, and then you build on that.
Or, are you someone who makes by design? You have an idea and you plan it out. You consider what you’d like to do and how best to make that happen, with the knowledge and skills you have in your material and processes. You may draw accurate designs, or you might write out step-by-step instructions for yourself. And as you go along you respond to what happens and modify your plans, testing things over time.
As with all personality traits, there is no hard and fast rule about this – you might fall firmly in one camp, or you may bounce back and forth. You might experiment with materials and processes so that you can then design and plan the making. It might be that your material or processes influence which approach you take (in my experience it's quite hard to be spontaneous if you slip-cast). You will have found your own way of making that works for you. The idea here is to recognise which aspects you identify with and feel most at ease with, because your ‘style’ of making will probably translate quite easily into your ‘style’ of writing.
Architects & Gardeners
There’s a lot on the internet about different approaches to writing, but one that I particularly like is George R R Martin’s analogy of architects and gardeners (probably because I would love to be both in real life). In writing, you are an architect if you like to have a plan. If you like to know everything about your characters, setting and plot. If you know exactly what is going to happen, when, and you write to fill this out. You are a gardener if you like to plant a seed of an idea and then let it grow. Your characters, setting and plot unfold as you write. Of course, many writers will say that they are definitely architects (I wonder if JK Rowling falls into this camp?) or gardeners (George RR Martin) and many will say that they find themselves wearing both hats.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to wonder if makers who design through making might feel that they are gardeners when it comes to writing, and that makers who make by design might feel at home with the architect’s approach. Understanding which approach feels most natural, most comfortable, will unlock some aspects of your writing – especially how to get started.
What sort of writing style resonates for you? Does it reflect your making ‘style’? Do you find yourself using a mixture of approaches? When does this happen, at what stages of your making process? Take a bit of time to reflect on this, and next week we’ll look at how to get started writing using techniques for gardeners and architects.