Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thinkers, Feelers, & Storytellers

I love Myers-Briggs personality tests. You know the ones that tell you whether you're a Thinker or a Feeler, an Introvert or an Extrovert, Intuitive or Sensing, Perceiving or Judging? Kind of like your astrological sign, I think it's a really cool way of exploring the various different ways people see the world. (I'm an INTJ, if you're interested.)

I mention this because in Myers-Briggs, thinking and feeling are two ends of the decision-making spectrum. (This does not mean emotional people don't have brains, but more is an analysis of the dominant factors in how people decide things - empathetically or logically.)

It's particularly fun to look at the Myers-Briggs types in terms of character archetypes. Bleeding heart damsel in distress=feeler; special ops dude who saves her life=thinker... and then they teach each other how the other half lives and fall madly, passionately... But I digress. Today I'm more interested in the people who scribble the stories.

The idea of being a cooly analytical thinker who writes about feelings and relationships all day almost seems like a contradiction in terms, but I'm not even remotely alone in being a highly cerebral romance writer.

The Thinker writer isn't insensitive to emotions, but I think we are inclined to process them differently. Perhaps the tendency to analyze emotional and contextual clues actually makes us more inclined to write about emotions (rather than, you know, feeling them). We can be the gods of our own little universe and demonstrate the logic behind the emotion on the page.

As a writer, part of the contract you form with the reader is the heroine loves him because and vice-versa. The book shows us the because. The how of the emotion of falling in love. Which definitely appeals to my thinker side.

I also think my thinker-ness is part of why I value honesty more than niceness. Not that we can't be tactful or polite while being honest - but authenticity is more important to me than flattery and what I might want to hear. I'm not afraid of the hard (and un-nice, politically incorrect) answers. I like the reality of them. The honesty.

As was stated on the Dystel & Goderich Lit Agency blog recently, sometimes the answer is no. I think it's good to face the fact that not everyone is cut out to be a published author. Some people's talents lie in other areas and being lied to about your potential in writing is not helping you find where you can excell.

The blog was particularly thought-provoking to me because she distilled the elements of writing talent into three categories - "storytellers, prose stylists, or thinkers".

That was a real lightbulb moment for me. Obviously we want to have all three talents (the writing triple threat!) but I think for each writer that is drawn to this vocation one aspect will tend to weigh more strongly than the others. I have friends who came to writing because they love to tell stories, others because they love to play with words, but I'm here because of the ideas.

I want to be a writer because I want to make people think, open up new avenues of thought. Which is only logical, I suppose. I mean, I am an INTJ.

What's your Myers-Briggs type?

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