Anyone who’s been following me for any amount of time knows that I’m
obsessed with interested in personality types, specifically the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I’m not going to go into a whole tirade of what the MBTI is, but basically, it assesses your personality using four categories: Introversion vs. Extroversion, Intuition vs. Sensing, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Perceiving vs. Judging. The results are then combined into a 4-letter type – For example, I am an INTJ, which means I have the introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging qualities. Though certainly not an exact science, I think it’s pretty interesting. It’s also helpful for writing, especially when it comes to characters.
Anyways, a while back I got to thinking about how personality affects writing style, and specifically how the thinking/feeling aspect can affect writers. Again, I’m no expert, but this is what I’ve noticed based on the writers I’ve known over the years.
Thinkers tend to be plotters. They outline their story and they stick pretty close to it, often down to the last detail. They love being organized and their writing thrives best when they have a game plan they can follow from start to finish. Feelers, on the other hand, are more often natural improvisers. They may have a general idea of where they want their story to go, but they’re more flexible with how they get there. However, this can become a problem if the writer loses sight of their main idea.
Thinkers also focus more on the “how” of writing. They love learning about the mechanics of storytelling and how all of the elements work together. They’ll analyze books and movies to find out what works and what doesn’t. They’ll read article upon article about how to design well-rounded characters and creating the perfect setting.
(Side note: For a really good post on story theory & structure, read this)
Feelers focus more on the “why.” They have an intense love of writing and, in general, don’t care much for the mechanics of it. Their first priority is creating something that they’re proud of, then maybe they’ll go back and focus on making it “work.” Sure, if you read their first draft it might be messy and nonsensical, but you can always tell they’re passionate about what they’re doing.
Depending on how you read this, you may think one of these traits is better than the other. As a Thinker myself, I’ll admit I have a tendency to think my writerly traits are somehow “better” than others (that could be a result of my other personality traits, but that’s a story for another day).
The truth is, both are important. It’s important to know how stories work and how to structure them, but it’s also important to love what you’re writing and not let the mechanics blind you from your passion. I’m guilty of this as well – I have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the how of my writing that I forget why I’m writing in the first place.The same goes for planning your stories. It’s good to have a plan of where you want to go, but don’t get so stuck in your ways that you refuse to make changes while you’re writing.
Thinking and Feeling are both important to writing – neither one is more important than the other.
Anyway, those are some thoughts I’ve been tossing around for a while, and I finally had the chance to put it into words. I know it’s a shorter post this week, but tomorrow is a new month and I’ll have my Best of September ready for you!
So, when it comes to your writing, are you more of a Thinker or a Feeler? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
See you tomorrow!