Cinematic stereotypes might lead us to believe writers are the spearheads of the introverted, contemporary counterculture—the ones slaved over that toy poodle of a laptop with a steaming mug of coffee on the side. The truth does not fit into this archetype (unsurprisingly), though. That is, writers vary so wildly in many different aspects: style, technique, and, most importantly, personality. Knowing about your personality, in addition to those other than your own, is a goldmine of untapped personal potential. With this knowledge, informed decisions about your craft and crafting process become clearer, as well as much easier to implement.
Disclaimer: The following information is based in theory, and as such, should not necessarily be taken as fact. In reality, personalities vary drastically from person to person, so it is difficult to lump general sects of the population into fixed groups. Like horoscopes, there’s a little “power of suggestion” involved.
There are numerous sites that subscribe to the Carl Jung typology, which is one of the more popular personality metrics on the web (learn more about the history of the MBTI test and its purpose here. To learn more about Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, check out this page). Below are a couple pages to get you started on typing yourself:
We can use the four-letter type as a guide in many ways, but here are three suggestions:
- The score can shed light on your preferred environment(s). Writers commonly score as introverts, but even extroverted types can benefit from knowing what environment is conducive to their writing. We want to write when we are fully charged, not running on empty. Someone who scores as an introvert would know that their alone time is critical, which allows them to plan their writing time for periods when they know they’ll be alone.
- Each personality type has a strength; the challenge becomes honing in on and developing that strength. For example, the INFJ writer might find exercising their emotional side in writing helpful for development. The INTJ might feel more comfortable sitting down to plan and list their ideas before actually writing the bulk of them. In contrast, the ENFP might find their strength is simply to throw the rules out of the window and write exactly what comes to mind.
- Perhaps you’re not interested in analyzing yourself at all! But wait: These tests can be used to get a sense for character personality, too. You would simply open a test and answer questions as the character might answer them. The descriptions can give you a sense of how the character interacts with his or her world, and also allow you the necessary groundwork to tweak and define character traits.
I got INFJ as my type. What’s yours?
“INFJ PERSONALITY (‘THE ADVOCATE’)
The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As Diplomats (NF), they have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is the accompanying Judging (J) trait – INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.” -from 16 Personalities, linked above.