Myers-Briggs for Writers: Why Knowing Personality Types Is Crucial for Your Writing

Personality inventories likes the Myers-Briggs are tools. They are not exhaustive, don’t typecast, and don’t limit your growth. In fact, many people identify their weaknesses and learn to compensate for them as a result of the inventory. They offer a glimpse into why you approach the world the way you do and can benefit you greatly in determining how you work with others. Check out this quick guide to the 8 personality types from the Myers-Briggs and some writing tips that are important for each one.

Favorite World: What gives you energy? Would you rather live more in the world of others, experiencing a burst of energy from other people? Or would you prefer to reside with your own thoughts, gaining energy through time alone to think and reflect?

Introverts get their energy from time spent in thought alone. I was surprised when I first inventoried as an introvert. I took it more like a bad diagnosis or personal offense. I considered myself an outgoing person and good speaker. Surely it had to be a mistake. After all, I took the inventory after a day full of student teaching in a local high school during my senior year of college. But the more times I took the inventory and continued to score as an introvert, I realized that introversion is not about friendliness or being outgoing but about where you receive your energy. Are you energized by time alone with your thoughts? Do people drain you? Then you are probably an introvert! The introverts in your audience will take time to read over each page, and maybe word, of your writing. They will take the time to respond, ask questions, and even argue with you (via e-mail of course). The more you write, the more you want introverts on your side!

Extroverts gain energy through time spent with others. They love to be around people, talk on the phone, and are the life of the party. They almost absorb energy from those around them. Extroverts love to read too but may not read as long. But you want to reach your extroverts. They are the ones who will be talking about your writing tomorrow at the water cooler! Give them something to talk about.

Information: People are either Sensing or Intuitive in the way they process information. They either take in information in a hands on way through their five senses, or they prefer to look for patterns and meanings that are greater than the here and now.

Sensing people experience the world through their primary senses and experience and live through those practical observations. They will notice if you change your magazine from glossy to matte because it “just doesn’t feel right!” They want concrete examples of things they can see, touch, smell, hear, and taste. Use descriptive words they place the reader inside your story. That’s the way to pull in those Sensing people in your audience. Give them a way to participate that is hands on. Inspire them to take action.

Intuitives see patterns and connections between the lines. They will think about ideas and meanings and find relationships in different areas of life. You want Intuitives reading your work to pick up on inconsistencies, gray areas, faulty thinking, or illogical conclusions. Let an Intuitive read your work before you turn it in to your editor. If you are writing a mystery, give them so many twists and turns that they try to see patterns and figure out where you are headed. They will love to figure it out!

Decisions: People are either Thinking or Sensing in how they make decisions and choices in life. Do you make decisions based on principles, values, and guidelines or do you think about the people and relationships that will be impacted by your decisions?

Feelers make decisions based on the people around them, taking into consideration their points of view and how decisions will impact them. Feeling is not indicative of emotion but making decisions based on personal relationships is. You will want feelers to read your work for inconsistencies based on motives and decisions that different characters make. Feelers may not like the ending of your book based on what happens to key people and relationships. But make a personal connection with your reader, and you will keep him forever.

Thinkers are able to look upon decisions with logic and consistency. They make great rule followers, thrive upon following principles in daily living, and make logical decisions. Thinkers also see cause and effect relationships and plan accordingly. Set your writing with clear principles of right and wrong. Challenge those principles in ways that are engaging to the reader.

Structure: People tend to be either Judging or Perceiving personalities, which describes someone’s basic approach to organizing and experiencing the world around them. Are you more structured and like to check things off your list or are you more flexible and spontaneous?

Perceivers are spur-of-the-moment, fun, and live-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-type people. They prefer to take in information and gather it to make decisions and often let the world come to them rather than to organize it and control it. Perceivers will tell you if your book is fun, exciting, and engaging. If you hook a Perceiver, then you have written a fascinating work. He may just go out and buy 10 copies to share with all of his friends!

Judging personalities are orderly, enjoying control of their world and responding to it in an orderly fashion. A reader who is Judging probably wants your book to be organized. He may read your book at the same time everyday. He will make a top ten list of the reasons why he likes your writing.

Use a variety of writing styles to draw in personalities. Don’t stereotype or pigeon hole your readers. Don’t write always from your personality type. The wider range of personalities you appeal to will only enhance your writing as well as your reader base. Have fun writing with personality!

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