Author: Maison Horton

Personality Typing for Writers

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:

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We can use the four-letter type as a guide in many ways, but here are three suggestions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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.

April is National Poetry Writing Month

Greetings, writers!

Did you know that the month of April is National Poetry Writing Month? If you didn’t, it’s not too late to get started on this poem-a-day challenge. Like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which takes place in the month of November, the goal is simple: write, write, write! But instead of writing a full length, first-draft novel in one month, the challenge here is to write at least one poem a day. The poetry database poets.org briefly describes the history of NaPoWriMo:

“Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), the Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month in 1996. Along the way we enlisted a variety of government agencies and officials, educational leaders, publishers, sponsors, poets, and arts organizations to help. National Poetry Month is a registered trademark of the Academy of American Poets.”

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Even if you aren’t a poet, NaPoWriMo is a stellar way study your lines of prose, too. Lines of poetry and prose are essentially born from the same place in our brains. Perhaps instead of writing a poem, you could try writing several short, out-of-context lines to really jog your writing skill.

There are several sites (some social media oriented) that post prompts daily. You can find a prompt for day 15 (as well as the prompts for days that have already passed) here, on a popular site run by poet Maureen Thorson:

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Maureen’s prompt for Day 15:

“[…] And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Because today marks the halfway point in our 30-day sprint, today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the idea of doubles. You could incorporate doubling into the form, for example, by writing a poem in couplets. Or you could make doubles the theme of the poem, by writing, for example, about mirrors or twins, or simply things that come in pairs. Or you could double your doublings by incorporating things-that-come-in-twos into both your subject and form. Happy writing!”

Need inspiration? Maybe you’re already feeling inspired, but you’d like a little bit of guidance? Take a look at our blog posts, where you can find mountains of helpful tips and tricks as you write your poetry.

Process: 3 Electrifying Brainstorming Tips

It’s almost unfathomable, if you think about it— that the entire world is able to exist, simultaneously, before our eyes and in our heads. Often, though, we think of brainstorming for writing like powering up an old machine: press the power button, crank the handle, oil it a little bit when it starts to squeak. Sometimes, being conscious about what we want to write inhibits us from writing anything at all. We absorb too much of the world, and the internal critic takes over. When this happens, we have to train our brains to relax, and remain purposeful, but open.

lightbulb idea“Life is ‘trying things to see if they work.'”

–Ray Bradbury, author of The Illustrated Man

Bradbury is spot on. That’s how brainstorming works the best: when it’s unafraid to take a chance, and go with that chance, even with the risk of failure. It’s always okay to try. The next time you brainstorm, think about these tips to help keep your mind in the clear and cloudless.

1. DO write down whatever comes to your mind. Yes. Everything. You thought you would humanize your canine-loving protagonist by giving him or her a dog allergy? That’s one idea. There are probably more where that came from. The point here is to extract everything you can onto the paper because you never know when that wacky idea might just work.

2. DO set time limits (optional). One way to ensure that the brainstorm isn’t too thunderous is to lasso it in with a time constraint. A time constraint normally goes hand in hand with free-writing, but this is a method you can use with your more structured work, as well. Time tricks your brain by giving a reason to work efficiently. It would be inefficient to waste time worrying about polishing and bedazzling your writing. Tack the jewelry on later, and make the time about nitty-gritty writing.

3. DO value quantity over quality. The great thing about brainstorming is that no one else is in your head or on that page except for you. The only person who will read what you wrote (at this stage) is you.

The most important thing is to enjoy writing as it comes and create a technique that is tailored toward your needs as a writer. Some methods may not work for you at all, and that’s okay—focus on the ones that do, and practice them. You’ll thank yourself later.

For more brainstorming tips, check out this page to learn more about other brainstorming strategies, like mind mapping, word storming, and word associating. Don’t forget to also check out the rest of our blog posts for other ways to enrich your writing process. Happy writing!

Site Maintenance: 4/1-4/2

Greetings, writers!

Our site will be undergoing scheduled maintenance starting just after midnight tonight. The site will be down on both Friday, April 1st, and Saturday, April 2nd. We expect things to be up and running again by Sunday, April 3rd.

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Our submission guidelines will still be viewable until 11:59 P.M. on this very deadline day, March 31st. Thank you for your patience!

Process: 2 Nature-Inspired Writing Exercises

Greetings, writers!magnolia-trees-556718_960_720

Springtime —’tis the season of budding trees, green grass, little bouts of rain and thunder. The bees are buzzing back. The sky is blue. This time of regrowth and return is such rich material for writers. Nature is the one place where we can return to the basics and reflect on those processes that shape our world, without the constant noise of clocks, cars, and people. Like music and photography, nature is an avenue we can use to reflect on our lives, which encourages the creation of refreshing writing. Here are two exercises you can use to vivify your next writing project.

1. Take a nature walk. One of the simplest activities is taking a walk in an area with lots of natural features. The great thing? The world is a place full of extraordinary landscapes. There is a feature for everyone’s standard of natural beauty, whether that means the Appalachian Mountains or the small band of trees behind your neighborhood. Using a pen and notebook, write about everything that you see: the way the leaves flutter in the wind, the way the water moves in a stream, maybe even the way that squirrel is looking at you as you walk by. Write down all of the phrases and words that come to your mind. Observe the natural music on your walk, too—rushing water, rustling leaves, chirping birds, etc.

Another cool method is approaching your nature walk like a researcher (something explored in-depth by Keri Smith, author of How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum). This method entails collecting all objects that inspire curiosity in you: a busted paper cup, twigs, shiny rocks, a glass bottle. The list can contain anything, really (but be safe!). Place them into a small bag and document them. Focus on the existence of the object. What does it look like? What happened to the object for it to look like it does? If this object could talk, what stories would it tell you?

2. Compile a collection of natural images. Sometimes weather conditions aren’t so conducive for nature walks. Luckily, the Internet allows us to see and hear nature right from home. Similar to our blog post titled “3 Ways Photography Can Assist Your Writing,” you can try browsing the many images and videos stored on search engines like Google. Corral your finds into a word document or a folder. If you use Pinterest, create a board for solely natural imagery. You could also take your own photography, emphasizing nature’s small (or large!) wonders that interest you.

If you prefer something a little more hands on, you could also cut images from magazines and make a collage. Perhaps you cut an image of an evergreen tree, and superimpose that upon a desert scene. The possibilities are endless. Let your imagination take you to new places, especially those based in the question that starts it all: what if?

Here are some links to get you thinking about nature this spring:

Tips for Writing: 5 Commonly Confused Homophones

Grknowledge2eetings, writers!

We writers have both the fortune and misfortune of having a broad vocabulary to choose words from. It is amazing how high these ordered symbols on the page can elevate our writing. We think of a word, pluck it from our cranial soup, and spill it onto the page. Sometimes, though, these words aren’t quite what we’re looking for. When that happens, we have to be our own investigators in order to use the correct words and avoid being misunderstood. Here are some commonly confused homophones (not to be mixed up with homonyms) you may encounter in your writing. Below, example sentences show each word grouping in a general context.

1. Peaked, peeked, & piqued.

– Her performance peaked at the end of the soccer game.

– He peeked at the test results.

– The magazine article piqued my interest.

2. Lightning & lightening.

– The lightning struck the skyscraper.

– The white paint is lightening the dark blue paint.

3. Lead & led.

– The plumber removed the lead pipe.

– The professor led the group discussion this morning.

4. Weather & whether.

– Today, the weather will  be warmer.

– Whether or not you like Italian food, we’re going to Olive Garden.

5. Soar & sore.

– The birds soar high in the sky.

– He had a sore throat for two days.

If you’d like to take a look at more homophones, check out the following page:

3 Ways Photography Can Assist Your Writing

Happy Friday, writers!

Does it feel like you’ve read all of the books you can read? Like you’ve exhausted all of your music playlists? Pages still bare? You might be tempted to break that pencil in half. But wait — spare that number two Ticonderoga! We’ve got some ways that photography can pull you out of a writing slump. penandpaper

1. Create your own photography catalogue. Maybe you’ve got the right coffee shop in mind for your character’s next meeting. You’ve described everything, down to the old coffee beans stuck in the booth seats. Try creating a Pinterest board of just coffee shops, noting the distinct features of those that you like. You can also do simple Google searches for images to peruse. Save these images and compile them into one place, like a Word document or a folder on your computer. Now, when you need new things to describe, you can just browse your personal inspiration collection.

2. Write a passage using just one photo. Perhaps you’re having trouble envisioning your setting entirely. This would be a good opportunity to search for a photo (say, of a coffee shop) and write only using this photo. As you write, don’t hesitate to take peeks at the photo. Set a time for yourself and don’t stop writing until time is up. In this way, you are using the photograph as a visual prompt. Let your mind wander. Allow the photograph to bring new ideas to your mind and, as always, write them all down.

3. Take photography of your own. If searching for images on your phone or computer doesn’t work, getting out into the real world is an easy way to welcome in your creative spirit. The world is a vivacious and vibrant place. Try capturing that wonder to enrich your own writing.

Still stuck? Check out these recent blog posts: