What type of writer are you?

We are all aware that we do things differently. I have this odd habit of procrastinating my research work for most of the morning and then working till late at night. No matter how much I want to break out of this habit…it’s difficult. I generally settle into this routine at the end of all my trying. There are those who start work early because they can’t stay sharp till late. I am not sure why we develop these different habits… is it something ingrained in us or is it something we learn… everything circles around that eternal conundrum, I guess.

But I’m digressing. I thought I had a rather unique way of going about my writing. The procrastinator that I am, I keep reading and reading reams and reams of literature till I see the deadline looming really close and I have no choice but to start writing. I thought this was a fallout of my laziness (which it might be) because reading is far more relaxing and exciting for me than writing…don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing more than most people, but I can’t deny that writing requires me to give more of myself in terms of effort than reading does. So, I generally tend to read till the cows come home and then I start writing. The wonderful thing that happens is because I have read so much the words flow a lot more easily, I have more connections to make, I have more thoughts to bring to the table…and somehow I seem to know what I am writing though I am not conscious of having deliberated about it. I never really thought much about this as a ‘writing style’ or a ‘writing type’ because I had no way of knowing that someone else in the world might be following this rather circuitous path to writing…

So imagine my amazement when I was lately introduced (as part of my training to be a Student Writing Mentor in the Academic Writing Zone at LUMS) to the different ‘Types of Writers’ (Crème and Lea, 1997)…and there was one that resonated very well with me.

The Diver: The Diver as the name suggests simply dives into the piece of writing without any plan in mind. The Diver will slowly build up from there, writing bits and pieces that may end up in different places.

The Patchwork Writer: The Patchwork Writer starts with rough headings or section titles that seem relevant to the essay, and then works with these sections to build an argument. The Patchwork Writer may move around sections or drop them linking them all in the end.

The Architect: The Architect is the supreme planner. The Architect will make a clear plan or outline of the essay, maybe even using a diagram to help with the process. The Architect will also make notes about what would go into each section before actually starting to write the piece.

The Grand Plan Writer: And finally…The Grand Plan Writer spends a lot of time reading…and need to read a lot more before they can write. The Grand Plan Writer may be thinking about all the material at the back of their mind because when they finally get down to writing, the ideas seem to flow naturally and fall in place.

As you can see, I was quite surprised to find that though I thought my way of writing to be idiosyncratic, I very much belonged to a ‘type’. I must say I am not particularly unhappy to see my style captured so because it makes me a little less guilty of what I thought was simply a symptom of laziness and a tendency to procrastinate!

Do you recognise your type among the four? It’s quite possible to be an amalgam of more than one type, I would think!

For more about the types, and writing in general:

*Creme, P. & Lea, M. 1997. Writing at University: A Guide for Students, Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.