What Type of Writer Are You?

Do you ever wonder if you’re a REAL writer? If you have doubts, it might be because you have a bad case of the “shoulds.”

Symptoms of the “shoulds” include:

  • You should write first thing in the morning.
  • You should write daily.
  • You should keep a journal.
  • You should write down your dreams every morning.
  • You should have a room of your own and be organized!
  • You should write for publication.

These can all be great ideas for someone. I adhere to many of them myself. But…what if some of the “shoulds” just go against your grain? Are you not a real writer then? What if you write best after 10 p.m. instead of first thing in the morning? What if you start journals repeatedly and never last more than three days? What if you can’t remember your dreams? What if an organized office makes you freeze and you secretly prefer writing in chaos?

Are you a REAL writer then? YES!

What Am I Exactly?

If you struggle with your identity as a writer–if you don’t seem to fit the mold no matter how you’ve tried–you would love The Write Type: Discover Your True Writer’s Identity and Create a Customized Writing Plan by Karen E. Peterson.  

This book takes you through exercises to find the real writer who lives inside you. You’ll explore the ten components that make up a writer’s “type.” They include such things as tolerance for solitude, best time of day to write, amount of time, need for variety, level of energy, and level of commitment. Finding your own personal combination of traits helps you build a writer’s life where you can be your most productive and creative.

Free to Be Me

To be honest, the exercises with switching hands (right brain/left brain) didn’t help me as much as the discussions about each trait. I could usually identify my inner preferences quite easily through the discussion. It gave me freedom to be myself as a writer. It also helped me pinpoint a few areas where I believed some “shoulds” that didn’t work for me, where I was trying to force this square peg writer into a round hole and could stop!

We’re all different–no surprise!–but we published writers are sometimes too quick to pass along our own personal experience in the form of “shoulds.” You should write first thing in the morning should actually be stated, It works well for ME to write first thing in the morning, so you might try that.

What About You?

Have you come up against traits of “real writers” that just don’t seem to fit you? Do you like to flit from one unfinished project to another instead of sticking to one story until it’s finished and submitted? Do you need noise around you and get the heebie jeebies when it’s too quiet?

If you have time, leave a comment concerning one or two areas where you have struggled in the past with a “real writer” trait. Let’s set ourselves free from the tyranny of the shoulds!

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6 Responses to What Type of Writer Are You?

  1. Martha Hubbard says:

    Kristi, I struggle with many of these! In fact, the more I read from books on writing, the more inadequate I feel. Truth be told, I am the type that goes with a flash of inspiration – i.e. I can go along getting a bit done here and a bit done there, but then WHAM – a burst of creative energy overcomes me and I write obsessively until I get it out. Then, I work hard to revise until I am happy (or “happy enough”) with my finished work. After that, I need to rest. I really get down on myself for being like this…I WANT to be the writer who writes first thing for a set amount of time and/or pages; I WANT to be the writer who is organized and yet still creative; I WANT to be the writer who sees a piece through to publication (or at least submissions), but I seem to freeze at this point. These are all areas that hold me back. Yes…I am definitely someone who is bound by the “tyranny of the shoulds”…I would love to be able to let go of these! Thank you for an interesting and helpful post.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Martha, most writers I know (including me) go through this cycle several times during their career. It takes quite a bit of trial and error to discover which writing habits are part of our writing personality to be honored, and which habits are just plain bad habits that need changing, a bit at a time, sometimes with teeth gritted, until the new habit takes over. And about the time we get it all sorted out, something major makes a shift: a husband retires, an adult child moves back home, we get laid off, a health problem derails us, etc. Or we just get older or have a new baby or go back to a day job… So many of the really famous writers write the way you described yourself, by the way. Right now I’d give my right arm for a burst of creative energy! Journal about these issues…that often helps me sort it out. :-)

  2. Amy Houts says:

    I struggle with “write daily.” Some days I don’t have time, especially during the holidays. There are so many other things going on. I know I don’t need to write daily to be a real writer, but I still feel I should. Thank you, Kristi, for helping free me from this “should.”

    • kwpadmin says:

      Amy, I would throw out the “should” of that statement, and then just see how writing daily actually makes you feel. I have found that when I write daily–and fifteen minutes is enough to do the trick for me–then I FEEL like a real writer. I think like a writer then, and I tend to read like a writer. It doesn’t take much time, if you like to write daily. I do it first thing in the morning whenever possible, because otherwise the day gets away from me, especially this month. I keep up the daily “15″ writing habit mostly because of how it makes me feel, I think. And of course it’s fun when you have more time than that. But don’t do it because you “should.” Do it if it helps you.

  3. Lorraine says:

    I was a “real writer” (i.e., paid regularly for my work) for more than four years as I “freelanced” with a local newspaper (I also did a LOT of photography for them). I worked pretty much incessantly – 70-80 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, no time off – to be paid by the piece (my best year ever was $19,400). There were no benefits, no chance for advancement (although I kept asking them to consider me for full time work as a regular employee), but it really didn’t seem to matter. I was writing, I was getting paid, people recognized me on the street and SAID they liked my work and were reading it, I was traveling all over my general area (trying to stray no more than 90 minutes away by road), meeting new people, experiencing new things, building up a rapport with everyone and everything. My knowledge base was getting bigger by the day, I was being personally requested to come out and cover different events, life was very good indeed.

    Then the paper brought in my last editor (I had been through a different one about every three months for all that time), and she pulled the plug. Suddenly, I wasn’t able to get the work because she preferred to do it herself, all sorts of people were getting upset because they weren’t getting what they expected, and in August, I was terminated (“we’re moving in a new direction…”).

    I keep writing and taking photographs. I run a blog, “A Fresh News Start”, and contribute about three articles per issue to a new local lifestyles magazine, “Living Here”. It doesn’t pay much (certainly not the “lofty” sums I was making with the paper – about 6% of that, actually), but it keeps my hand in and is certainly FAR better than nothing. I would love to get back into the papers (or even radio or TV if that’s where I have to end up), but there are no openings. One of the major syndicates is laying off another 250 people, they fired the local full time reporter in the next town, and they’re getting smaller by the week. It won’t be long before all that’s left is a wrapper for flyers. The one I “worked for” is rapidly disintegrating, and will quickly follow the same path.

    So I struggle along, trying to find “real work” while still keeping at what I’ve been doing for all this time (sans paycheque). It isn’t easy, but I have a need to do it. There is a motley lot of followers for my blog, folks who know I still get out there and try to give them the coverage they desire/crave/need, and I keep trying for them, but it can be very hard to feel stimulated. I find myself turning to ideas for children’s picture books, short stories, and photographic note cards as a way to get my creativity fix and (possibly) make it work for me, but it’s not that easy to pull it all together any more.

    Thanks for presenting your ideas. It’s nice to know that, even without the recognition of a paycheque, I can still think of myself as a “real writer”. Someday, maybe I can start selling again at a more profitable level.

  4. kwpadmin says:

    Lorraine, I so admire you! (Love the photos “through the ice” on your blog, by the way!) People working in the news services–at least, many of them–are facing what you have faced, but you’ve taken your skills and come up with something new. Your news website covers a lot of topics! I read your “About Me” section, and it sure sounds like that paper made a big mistake letting you go. Yes, finding ways to make money with our writing–and writing what we love–is such a challenge in this fluctuating publishing scene. Best of luck to you in the frozen north!

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