When Your Writer’s Personality is Rejected

If you’ve studied personality types, you may have noticed how many writers have a good dose of the Melancholy Temperament.

Some of the signs:

  • You’re sensitive to your own feelings plus the vibes given off by others.
  • You notice things that go over the heads of others.
  • You love solitude—and need it to feel sane and calm.
  • You like to think, and think deeply.
  • You may be more of an observer at parties, avoiding the limelight if possible.

All those traits help your writing immensely. Other writers will love those traits in you.

Unwelcome Personality

Be warned, however. Many people in your life won’t like some of your creative personality. When that happens, it will feel like another form of rejection.

I was reminded of this when re-reading a terrific book called The Soul Tells a Story by Vinita Hampton Wright. Here’s what  the author has to say about this:

“My gifts were always welcomed and encouraged in my family, church, and school communities. What was not welcomed was the personality from which those gifts spring. I was moody, easily depressed and extremely introverted. I had no social skills, was too honest when I talked, and didn’t know anything about flirtation or other forms of politics.” She added that she had “an overriding sense that people didn’t accept me as I was. I would be told to stop having a long face, that I should smile more, that I should be more outgoing…that to be inward was to be self-centered.”

If you have some Melancholy Temperament, and you also grew up in a dysfunctional environment, your personality traits may be even more pronounced.

Finding a Kindred Personality

I could really identify with Ms. Wright’s words. All my life I’ve been told that I think too much. So my best friend (for fifteen years now) shocked me when we first met. She said, “I like that you read a lot and think deeply.” She does too—and we bonded for life! You need to have such kindred souls in your life–even one will do.

I’m not saying we never need to change. And I’m not suggesting that you announce to your family “I’m moody because I’m a writer, so get over it” or snarl “Go away and leave me ALONE because I’m an introvert” or tell people off because you are honest.

On the other hand, stop tying yourself into a pretzel to be what someone else thinks you should be.

Be Grateful for Your Writer’s Personality

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to “undo” my writer’s personality, not realizing what it was (or that it was part of a gift). You may find that there are few people that you can be your unvarnished self with. (I am blessed with a best friend, a dear sister, and another writer who let me relax and say whatever is on my mind and never judge or reject me. If you have even ONE person in your life where you can do that, you are blessed.)

With everyone else, I tone down the tell-it-like-it-is honesty, and I smile whether I want to or not. I developed social tricks to get others to talk so I didn’t have to. I’ve dumped my “unacceptable” feelings into journals for nearly thirty years.

I might not be as brave as some of you. Or maybe I’m just old enough to be too tired to deal with people who don’t understand me and don’t want to try. It stirs up exhausting discussions that go nowhere. I’d rather save that energy for my writing.

Put Your Writer’s Personality to Good Use

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t stuff things till I implode. (I used to–bad for the blood pressure!) Instead, I pour those in-your-face honest feelings into my fiction and nonfiction. I let characters say things I don’t say anymore. I tend to create characters that feel like they’re out of the mainstream socially. And I love characters who are sensitive and probably think too much.

Ms. Wright says: “Creativity takes you places that are weird to others. Don’t be surprised when others reject you for being different, asking too many questions or expressing yourself in ways that are unfamiliar to them.”

You’re not alone if you get this type of reaction fairly often. Just be sure to hang out with people—like me—who will value your writer’s personality. They’re out there. Look for them, and don’t stop till you find one. I was in my late 30s before I found a truly kindred soul.

When you find someone who likes your writer’s personality, you may find out that they’re undercover writers as well. If so, you’re doubly blessed.

If you’ve ever felt this way, please leave a comment! You’re among friends here!

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15 Responses to When Your Writer’s Personality is Rejected

  1. Juli says:

    This post really speaks to me because I’ve felt rejected a lot as a creative person. I don’t have a melancholy spirit (quite the opposite, actually), but that’s as annoying to people as a long face. My quirkiness, humor and say-it-like-it-is way have always made people uncomfortable, even fellow writers, unfortunately. Why can’t I even fit in with those who love my profession? You got me. I’m still looking for that kindred soul…

  2. kwpadmin says:

    Juli, thanks for your comment! After reading your description of yourself, it makes me wonder if the main thing that rubs people the wrong way about us is our “say it like it is” quality… It’s the one thing I’ve had to change the most about myself. I kept thinking if I found a way to tell the truth in a really nice way, THEN it wouldn’t offend people. Turns out to only be true with those open to change or correction and don’t have a big ego on the line. Do keep looking for that kindred soul, though, and when you find one, hang on to her! :-) Until then, I guess you can blog like I do, and tell it like it is, with the hopes that some readers will be open to your ideas. [And I keep working to be open to correction myself! It's a two-edged sword. :-) ]

  3. Hi Kristi,
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen these ideas expressed in such a courageous way. Yes, I imagine it took some courage to write this blog because it was likely something you felt but didn’t express for a long time. Thanks for holding up the mirror for those of us who could see ourselves. I’m guessing a lot of us are thinking, “It’s not just me then.”

  4. kwpadmin says:

    Gloria, you’re very insightful–and very kind. Yes, I debated ever talking about it, but then I read that quote in the book above and thought, “Well, if she can be that honest, I could be too.” I think part of the problem with us “thinkers” is that we value relationships with a lot of depth, lots of give and take and good discussions. And some people have, as one writer put it, all the depth of a mud puddle. [I'm sorry that sounds so snobby, but I thought he expressed it well!] Yes, we writers are all in this together! :-) We seek to understand, but we’d like to be understood too!

  5. Deanna says:

    “The depth of a mud puddle.” Love that description! Now I know why some conversations and friendships never grow.
    I am often misunderstood as mentioned in your post. And my dysfunctional family background intensified the negatives of my personality. I am thankful to God for His overcoming power in my life. He helps me take a higher path and walk in the sunshine. My journal keeps my whiny gripes where they belong–most of the time.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Deanna, we sound like twins here. Me too, on all counts! I know God made me this way for His purposes…but He has spent considerable time smoothing off my rougher edges! :-)

  6. Tina says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I’ve always felt like a misfit and like I seem to say just exactly the wrong thing in social settings. I’m someone who has always loved to write, but have really only done so sporadically because I kept letting life get in the way. The personality you describe is me on all points, but I didn’t realize that it was a “writer’s personality.” Maybe I am okay after all ;~).

    • kwpadmin says:

      Tina, I’m glad if the article helped. I know when I first read that book, I felt like the author had eavesdropped on my life somehow. Yes, we writers are different from the norm quite often, but I’ve come to believe it’s a really good “different” and something to be treasured for what it is: a unique “take” on the world that can, if we’re authentic, translate into some good writing! You’re in good company!

  7. Kristi, you really nailed it. That is me to a T. I usually avoid the tell-it-like-it-is honesty by not saying anything. But when someone asks me a point blank question, I can’t help but be frank. (That’s what my husband lovingly calls it.) It’s nice to know I’m not the only one dealing with this. Thanks for speaking about it.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Judith, you’re welcome, and I thank YOU for leaving a comment and confirming that it’s not just me. 8-) Since I appreciate people who call a spade a spade instead of manipulating and fudging the truth, I am still surprised when even “nice” and “really nice” ways of being honest don’t work. I pick my battles now, and usually choose to fly under everyone’s radar instead. I get shot at less! :-)

  8. Shweta says:

    I definitely identify! I started out life the weirdest child in any room (outside of home, I wouldn’t ever speak, I was that shy and everything bewildered me, especially other kids). I was so quiet that people forgot I was around. But that lent to my being able to make some great observations, because people don’t realise how much they reveal in speech or minor actions that wouldn’t otherwise be used if they comprehended someone they don’t intend to be part of the interaction is there and watching. But somehow I always took on the consistency of wallpaper, or wallpaint. Says a lot for me, doesn’t that? ;D

    I got a little more ‘normal’ and acceptable to people in my teens. Now I’m still the weird or ‘alternative’ type. You know the one … but people don’t seem to mind it. I’m treated differently; for my friends, I’m not usually around for fun or light-heartedness but for depth or to dispense advice. Which I guess I don’t mind. They tell me what an oddball I am all the time but I’ve known this too long to be annoyed :) and they like that I want to be a writer, they just don’t seem to get into the idea on my behalf as they would if I wanted to do something more … likely, likely to happen, perhaps. I definitely haven’t found my kindred writerly spirit yet. It’s awesome that you found yours – hopefully everyone gets one!

    • kwpadmin says:

      I can identify! I was painfully shy too. They used to give A,B,C grades even in kindergarten when I was little, and I still remember flunking show and tell. I would get A’s for everything else, but I was too terror-stricken to bring something and stand up and show the class and talk about it. And speech class in high school? I thought I would die of fright. I used to feel badly that when friends wanted to go out for fun and a laugh that they didn’t call me, but like you, if someone was in trouble, I got calls by the hour. Glad you found this post. You’re in good company! :-0

  9. Samantha says:

    I am 44 years old and just realized this week that there is a name for my condition – a writer’s personality!!! I came across this term a few days ago in Po Bronson’s book “What Should I Do With My Life,” did a quick Google search and found all kinds of info on this “disorder.” I am THRILLED that there is a name for it for two reasons. First, it means I’m normal, at least within the community of fellow introspective, live-in-your-own-head, introverted, melancholy, socially anxious freaks! What a relief! And the fact that my personality type is in alignment with what I want to do is further evidence that I’m on exactly the right path. This is all so exciting. Wonderful blog – thank you!

  10. Karen says:

    Ah, love to hear the words of another writer – I so relate – and am very comforted by it being put into words :) [You also wrote / posted this on my Birthday, March 5, which tops my writer's personality off with my pisces personality.] BUT here’s the twist in my life – I am adopted, and grew up in a very extroverted so called “normal” family. I was continually told how “creative” I was, how I could NOT be so honest with people, how I needed to conform, how I needed to not be so…well…me. It was a somewhat painful yet oddly “safe” childhood. But because of whom I was raised by, I was forced out of my cave and into the public eye. I was told I had a great personality, when I didnt open my mind up too much to others…and… I received a lot of attention from men, which I never knew quite what to do with and which quite unnerved me. I know that may seem like too much information but I think it has KEPT me even more so from allowing myself to accept who I really am. I used to think I had an artist personality, but never quite fit there either. It was once I started meeting other writers that I finally felt at home; felt un-judged. I am on my journey, and I think I am finally understanding and accepting who I really am. And, I really love me, even if others dont.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Karen, your comment made my day! This is one of the best reasons for networking with other writers, in my opinion. I think we need this understanding and acceptance even more than we need a good critique or marketing advice! I have pretty good social skills for an introvert, but it does wear me out! :-)

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