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George R. R. Martin Wrote: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. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if 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.

I've always found this quote interesting. I think it relates to creative disciplines other than writing as well. Granted, it's a bit of a simplified approach, and I think it makes more sense to at least think of these two aspects as something of a spectrum.

Composing, like writing (and pretty much all the other arts), essentially boils down to coming up with something that wasn't there before.

Reading this quote, I'm sure a lot of creators identify with one over the other. I sure do. The valuable lesson, in my opinion, lies in getting to know workflows other than your own. Even if you're a sworn architect, you're not losing anything if you deliberately do a little gardening. You might just even get to know your own workflow a little better. I sure have.

I would like to add a third one to GRRM's two paradigms: The god. The god creates, and if it displeases him, he destroys it and creates again. As far as I know, this is a somewhat common approach among popular music songwriters (e.g write 30 songs, take the best 10, record an album).

How would you describe different creative workflows?
I'm definitely more of a gardener when it comes to music, though as you say it doesn't have to be one or the other. You can't write good music without at least some amount of both approaches. You need planning and structure as well as spontaneity, and you should never be afraid of your composition going unexpected places. Sometimes those places may not be what the music needs but exploring the possibilities of a track is very educational, even if you end up doing something different in the end.

Can't say I've put much thought into this matter though; I work the way I work because it suits me, and I guess it's the same for everyone else. There are probably as many ways of doing it as there are musicians.
Perhaps a little bit of both is required? Yet, I do think I'm more of a gardener. Often I get a melody in my head and that sets me off on a journey that can take me on a surprising journey. The worst (?) example being that I started writing something classical and in the end happened to have a quite nice synthesizer track...   Blush
I'm almost completely a "god"-type, with a bit of gardener. Composing to me is like a dance with my subconscious- pulling out an idea, checking it if works, if not, trying a new one, rinse-wash-repeat until the piece is done. I never plan. I just drop the seed in and ask it if it is happy where it is and how much sunlight it has until it has become a tree (to keep the analogy).