This picture is just a joke. I don’t have a cat.
I’ve never been hooked on personality types to explain why I am the way I am. I’m an introvert, and I usually put a period at the end of that sentence. Why go on? But this week we’re talking about how our personalities influence our writing, so I decided to take a few personality tests and see what else came up.
Turns out, I’m ISFJ. No matter how many different tests I took, no matter the different ways I answered the questions, I still came out ISFJ. So let’s break it down:
Introverted: I scored 85% for this one, and find that surprisingly low. I almost never do social things. My days are partitioned into very clear sections: Writing, parenting, work, exercise, parenting, reading, sleep. I get of lot of “social” interaction with friends on Facebook or with my two text besties (Hi Kuney and Chatty). But even weekends are quiet for me. I’m not complaining— my introverted tendencies helped me find enough time to write a book. While my friends went out to dinner, saw movies, and went to parties, I stayed home and wrote. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to be social. I’m one of those rare introverts who is really good with people, and whenever I step out of my cave, I’m pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it is. But then I need several weeks to recover, and I remember that while I like people just fine, I prefer them at a distance.
Sensing: This means I rely on my feelings more than facts when making decisions. That’s a huge understatement. I make a lot of decisions based on nothing more than strong feelings for or against. I aggravate the more rational (reasonable?) people in my life frequently by not having concrete reasons to back up my decisions. I think this is also why craft books don’t work for me. I start to read them and drift away because there are too many rules and too many directions. I write by instinct—what feels right—and not by the signpost of what has to happen by the end of act three. There are structural rules I know I need to follow but again…I like to intuit my way toward them rather than follow a map. (It’s worth noting that this is also how I navigate while driving.)
Feeling: I definitely scored high on the empathy charts. So much so that sometimes I have to cut myself off from listening to or reading about high-conflict situations. My mind puts me there so quickly and fully, my heart rate increases and I become stressed. I might walk around for hours with a nagging sense of anxiety, before realizing I’m still responding to something I read on Facebook. But this is a great quality for a fiction writer. I have no trouble accessing what my characters might think or feel when they’re in trouble. The only trick is exiting when I’m done. Sometimes it’s jarring to step back into the real world and realize that none of it actually happened. It helps to do some kind of physical activity—working out, or at the very least, going for a walk—to get my head straight again.
Judging: At first glance, this sounds bad, but it’s actually about how we approach work, planning and decision-making. And I’m a planner. I have always set deadlines for myself. Currently, I have a November 30 deadline to finish a first draft of my next book. No one set that for me. My agent mentioned it might be nice if I could get her something readable by “early next year”. So I immediately went into backwards planning mode. “Early next year” = February. Which means I need a couple months to revise and send to readers, so December 1st I need to have a draft to revise. I will write 6000 words per week. Two hours a day Monday-Friday and four or five hours on Saturdays and Sundays, with sporadic text and Facebook breaks (and meal prep/mediation/wound care for my children). Luckily, I never have any plans on the weekends (see: 85% introvert) so I should hit that deadline no problem.
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