I recently attended a religious woman's retreat and during one of our sessions, we discussed our personality types. The Myers-Briggs test from the '50s is a wonderful way to figure out your strengths and weaknesses, what type of career would play out your natural gifts, and may other facets of life. As I explored a topic I've already studied in the past, I realized that the dry spell I've been having in my fictional writing might be due to the fact that I wasn't playing up the needs of my personality.
Re-discovering What Makes Me Feel Accomplished
I haven't changed a bit. That is to say, I've become great at adapting to life's curve balls, but I'm the same person I was ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago. We all are unique, with quirks and needs that affect every part of our world. We have things that make us tick, that make us happy or content or even giddy. Those things can be leverage to make us productive and overflow with inspiration simply by being true to who we are and what works best for us.
Unfortunately, in the last few months, my inspiration well has been drier than a grain of Sahara sand at high noon. Focusing was impossible, words stopped up somewhere between brain and fingers, and I'm fairly certain intelligence chipped off and escaped my body. Lazy, bored, uninspired, and frustrated, I sat in front of a blank screen and stared, mentally begging the words to come.
Turns out, I'd been so wrapped up in life that I'd forgotten a fundamental part of who I am. Specifically, where I got my energy.
One of four parts of a personality according to the test I mentioned above is about how you recharge, how you gather yourself back to being okay. Do you need to be surrounded by people and socializing to feel whole, or do you prefer the quiet solitude to think and imagine?
I am an extrovert. The months I've spent cooped up in our rental, trudging through life in a infuriatingly silence were literally leaving me exhausted and empty. With a simple day retreat with other woman and a 20 point questionnaire, I realized my writing life won't ever be fulfilling if I don't let my need of people, of recharging with many others surrounding me, to be a regular part of it.
Additionally, the final element in my personality made me realize it may be time to take advantage of structure. A schedule, follow through, and completing small goals might help me feel more accomplished. I might even need to be a *gulp* plotter though I've proudly been a pantser for years. Perhaps the plotting will help me focus and complete projects.
I've taken a hold of these bits of myself and developed a plan that I hope will lead my writing in a forward motion. It may require creating my own real-life writing group since I can't find one. It may mean that I need to go to a bookstore or library to write instead of holing up in my office at home. You can do make your own plan once you know your personality type and examined your current habits against it.
Types and Tendencies
If you've never checked out what your personality is, even if you are very self aware, I'd highly recommend it. Insights such as this may help you develop a writing, plotting, or marketing campaign that works better for you than your current one. Keep in mind, some people take on roles or tendencies outside of their true personality, but this is about what is most comfortable or natural to you. Feel free to fill out this "knock-off" personality test (the Myers-Briggs one costs some money) that you can use to get a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses so you can leverage them for your writing.
The four categories used to analyze your personality are:
- Extrovert/Introvert - Do you get your energy recharge from group settings and the energy of others or from quiet time alone in personal or spiritual activities?
- Regular in person critique groups will appeal to extraverts, while secluded or quiet writing time might appeal to introverts.
- Sensing/ Intuit - How do you take in information? Do you rely strictly on facts of the world around you or do you follow gut instincts?
- This can affect your research style or help you analyze critiques to better your manuscripts.
- Thinker/Feeler - Do you use logic or your feelings to process things?
- Thinkers may be more willing to ask questions of beta readers or feedback, while a feeler may need to take some time to process before replying.
- Judging/ Perceiving - How to you use the information and how important is structure in your life? Do you need a regular, scheduled routine or is spontaneity important to your process?
- The good ol' pantser/plotter come into play here. Do you need more structure than you realized previously? Deadlines are important to Judgers, while perceivers may consider deadlines flexible.
By knowing the way you best handle these elements, you can bend your writing time and process to better accommodate your writing.
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I'd love to know what you discovered! Please share your personality type and any ah-ha moments you may have had when you read about it in the comments below. Pinterest is also a great place to find out more about your type one you discover it. Just enter your four letter combination into the search bar, and have some fun.