Literally, Campaigns are like plants. They can only grow if the conditions are right. The GM must plant them in the correct place and right environmental conditions (i.e. the players must like the ideas behind the games and be willing to play in them). Just like the gardener must prepare the soil and growing environment, the GM must create the basics of the campaign before play.
They require regular tending, as well as sufficient watering and sun. The GM must work on scenarios, input creative ideas from players and other sources. There is weeding and bug removal for the gardener. For the GM, there is character maintance, cutting out bad story lines, and the weekly chores required to keep the campaign going. Every now and again, the gardner needs to fertilize and spread bs. The GM does the same thing, as they lay the foundation for the next stages of the campaign.
The Gardener reaps the rewards of their patience and work. The GM sees their campaign grown, their plotlines develop, and the characters developing and advancing. As the plotlines begin to mature, and new areas of the campaign need to be developed, the GM works on the next cycle, just like the Gardener begins again in the spring.
Additional Ideas (2)
In Feudal Japan, one of the reasons warriors learned fine arts was to learn new ways of looking at things. They could them bring the new ideas, new patterns, and new processes from their fine art to their combat arts. Many of the florid descriptions found in Japanese combat texts comes from describing draws like setting down a tea cup or swords strikes as strokes of a paintbrush, the opponent being the canvas.
I had been reading a cook book and developed tips based on en mes pleis (French for In Place, the cooking technique of doing all the prep work first then cooking) and how to roast as an analogy on how to create drama for charcters (high heat... then long and slow... then a burst of high at the end). I could see the wisdom in the Samurai's approach. In addition to better gaming, I can now make a souffle.
Someone told me he wanted to grow a campaign organically. He wanted to have a seed idea then make stuff up as they adventured along (A total DIP campaign). My first thought was he wants to make a campaign by putting it in sh*t and see what happens. My second thought, more appropriately, was it sounds like he is going to garden his way to a campaign. My next thought was how gardening could be used as a gaming analogy. A few minutes later... here we are.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Plants: Games are like plants, they require preparation, nurturing, and time to develop.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Preparation: A campaign, like a plant, can not develop in the wrong setting. The GM must make sure that the campaign setting choosen a) support the type of adventures they want to run and b) has all the things required for the campaign in place. If you want to run military scenarios, then you will need a war and a place where the war is being fought, that means (b) you will need opposing countries, armies, and groups that relate to the conflicts (religion, healers, etc).
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Preparation: GMs should stop and think about the campaign. This is the preparation required for the convention. They should generate a number of potential plots they would like to run, in addition to plots the players want. Think about what will be needed for those scenarios. Make sure that all the elements needed for those scenarios are found in the campaign. (If you need a university for one scenario, make sure your game environment has a university in it).
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Seeds: People like to think there is a reason for everything and often search for explanations, even if there are none. Players are no exceptions. Spread plot seeds (interesting people/ things/ events) through our campaign. You don't have to have any idea behind them (at this time). The Players will eventually make sense of them by forming their own theories. Any plot seeds that don't fit will be discounted as anomalous or mysterious, prompting further investigation. Listening in to the Players theories should prove inspirational in deciding what really is the truth. GMs Note: If or when you have an idea of what is going on then make sure that you highlight the clues that fit your theory.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Seeds: Develop a number of mini-adventures or cool scenes based on a set locations in the game world. Spread these adventure seeds around your world. That way, when you need something to keep the players occupied while you set up a main plot, a sub plot will be right there for the picking.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Nurture: Figure out which of the old "seeds" the players are most interested in, then drop a hook. While they don't take proactive action, they're always dealing with the things that they've been thinking of.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Tending: Work with the players to weave their characters into the world and together as a group. From this foundation, determine one to three goals or problems the character needs to work for/ resolve. As the campaign continues, work these goals/ problems related to the characters into as many scenarios as you can. As those plot lines are resolving, check with the players to see one to three goals or problems of their characters they want to play out. This forms the new seeds for the campaign.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Weeds: Some plotlines will be uninteresting to the players or they will turn out as undramatic. Keep track of the plotlines running and let the ones that are uninteresting or undramatic fade away, hopefully from memory. GMs, Maybe when they someone thinks about them again, you will have a way to turn the plotline into something exciting and related to what is going on in the campaign.
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Sow: Run scenarios that have already been seeded a while ago. The players won't generally choose which adventures to go on, but they'll quickly pick up on a new "hook" that lets them know that one of the "seeded" situations is now "ripe."
Seed, Nurture, Sow - Sow: You need to run scenarios that interest the players and are based on what they are thinking about right now. If you don't the scenario might be stale and the run go