Well, Kristen’s great post on Monday really got me thinking. I was in the process of writing what turned out to be a very long-winded comment, so I thought I’d pick it up and plonk it down here as my post for the week.
Feed back. This is the topic that got my cogs spinning; why some of us need and thrive on it, while others (erm, that’d be me) writhe in agony at the thought of anyone reading anything less than my bestelling, Pulitzer Prize-worthy, hardcover.
OK. I’m not that bad. I do adore feedback when I get it. But as the ladies of All The World's Our Page will attest, the snips I send out to share are few and far between. And it used to bother me that I was so reluctant about sharing my work when others so obviously got such a huge charge and boost to their creativity by doing so. I wanted some of that good stuff, too, but just couldn’t seem to make myself send out anything. Then I realised my reluctance was hardwired in me, all because of my type – my Myers-Briggs personality type, that is.
I assume most of you have heard of, if not used, the personality inventory devised by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers (if not, here’s a quick overview.) According to their theory and process, there are sixteen possible psychological/personality types; taking a Myers-Briggs test will determine which type you fall into.
I’m firmly in the type known as ISTJ; Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgment. Here’s a detailed run down of what it is to be an ISTJ, "The Duty Fulfiller" (oh man, that sounds so boring!) but basically, I prefer to live in my head, drawing energy from ideas and thoughts and reflections; I need to retreat to my cave and recharge if I have too much exposure to the outside world; I like my routines, rules and regulations; I’m dependable and responsible, organized and methodical; I can juggle and store a vast amount of facts; I prefer to work alone; I’m a perfectionist, but also a keen observer of life.
So it kind of makes sense that I’m not one to readily seek out feedback. I’m internally motivated, and my perfectionist streak makes it hard for me to let my work go.
It’s also interesting to note how my ISTJ attributes can be a bonus, as a writer. I don’t mind working on my own; in fact, I love it. I’ll drive myself hard, stick to my routines, soak up the little details of the world when I dare to venture out. I can keep track of a whole novel’s worth of facts and plot points, and twists and turns, in my head. And my ISTJ tendencies also help to explain why it’s taking me as long as it is to write my book – I have to work out how to do each and every step of this novel writing process exactly right, and “winging it” will never work for me!
Conversely, knowing I’m an ISTJ makes me aware of the pitfalls of my personality. Like my tendency towards hyper-perfectionism, which could see me writing draft number five hundred and twenty-nine of this book and still not being happy with it. And that my inability to let go and share my work, warts and all, can stop me from getting valuable and necessary feedback. Not to mention that my ability to force myself to stick to a writing routine can also tip into me slave-driving myself into creative burn out.
So, what’s your type? Here’s an online test, if you're interested in finding out. And in what ways do you think your type helps or hinders you as a writer?