I’ve got this theory that there are two main types of writer. The theory may be wrong, but in my own head it feels right (or maybe that’s just be a recipe for madness).
The two types are sculptors and observers. I am an observer, but there’s also a bit of sculptor in the mix too. So what do I mean by these two types?
Sculptors start with a block of stone and “see” something inside it. They then proceed to hack at the stone, chipping a bit off here, a bit off there, until by dint of sheer sweat and blood they create a work of art.
Observers watch their characters, usually inside their own head (watching them outside is more akin to journalism, I suppose), and transcribe what they are doing. These writers tend to rely more on a muse and less on sheer effort. To be productive if you are this kind of writer, you need to be able to conjure up characters and let them run. Sometimes they just run off and you lose them, sometimes they run in completely the wrong direction, and sometimes they just sit there doing nothing at all!
I think we need some part of both, but it feels to me that most writers are one or the other.