Your personality and writing productivity

What’s this episode about?

Welcome to the first season of The Pen Garden Podcast. Listen to episode 2 in full above and/or scan the show notes below for the main takeaways.

In this episode I talk a little bit about how to determine your personality type and how that can help you shape your writing routine. Understanding what drives you and what your strengths and limitations are will help you focus your efforts and create a routine that is a perfect fit, with you and your needs at its core.

Your personality

As we found out the benefits of self-care and that it’s important to tailor it to your own life, let’s talk about personality. Your personality is only one part of your creative self – there’s also your environment and experiences that have shaped who you are as a person and a writer. Your decision-making will also be influenced by your writing goals so take everything I say with a grain of salt. People with the same personality can lead massively different lives so the information in this podcast is to inform personal growth and give you the tools to embark on a self-awareness journey, nothing more. Don’t feel like a personality type is a box you need to fit in, take it as a signpost to your best self.

You might be familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or this name might mean nothing to you – to bring everyone on the same page, I will briefly explain what it is and why I have chosen it as the personality type indicator I will be urging you to get acquainted with after you finish listening. For short I will be calling it MBTI from this point on.

Psychological type theory and MBTI

The theory of psychological type was introduced in the 1920s by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. His work inspired many scholars to develop their own frameworks of personality types, wishing to expand the field and add more detail to his initial findings. The essence of the theory is that seemingly random variation in human behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.

The MBTI tool was then developed in the 1940s by a mother-daughter duo, Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs, who aimed to make the insights of type theory more widely accessible. Since then, research into this has continued, making the Indicator a robust tool.

Finding your personality type

What does the tool actually measure and why is it so helpful for building self-awareness? The book MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® explains that your personality type is formed when you decide on your preference for each of the following four categories: Favorite world, Information, Decisions and Structure.

Here’s a short excerpt of the Manual providing a bit more background on each of these categories:

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

When you decide on each of those four, your personality type will be expressed as a code with four letters and you will be able to delve into the results to find out what makes you tick and how to play to your strengths.

Here you might be wondering how to decide accurately where you fall on the spectrum of these four categories. And that’s a good question, particularly because by today, millions of people worldwide have taken the Indicator each year since its first publication in 1962.

Thanks to the internet, the MBTI is something anyone with access to a computer can take and does not require you to go to a professional. There are many websites which offer to provide you with your type after asking a varying number of questions with varying degree of accuracy in the interpretation of your answers.

I would recommend www.16personalities.com. This is not sponsored but I have chosen it because it’s fast and easy and its blended approach to the theory introduces a fifth category which can bring more detail into the specifics of each of the 16 types.

All that said, if you wanted to take the personality test and have the results explained by a trained practitioner, you can. Links to information about that are down in the Sources section.

My MBTI type

Before you set off and do the test yourself, or take another more detailed look at your already known type, I want to tell you a bit about my type. I’m an INFJ, labeled on www.16personalities.com as ‘The Advocate’. I have also seen it as ‘The Idealist’. Breaking down the letters, it means I’m Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging.

All of these traits definitely affect how I have constructed my writing routine. As an introvert, I am at my best when I’m focusing on my work alone, I prefer writing in quiet places by myself, like at home or in libraries. I don’t deal too well with writing in socially-heavy spaces like coffee shops and guided writing retreats.

I’m intuitive, which means I enjoy creative writing more than copywriting. I wish I had taken this test before I decided to study journalism many years ago not realizing writing was not all the same.

As a Feeling type, I get really captivated by what I write so I make sure not to write too close to my bedtime – otherwise I stare at the ceiling, my story still writing itself in my brain while I can’t switch off.

My last trait is Judging, which means I like to decide on things and follow through. This is why my routine is meticulously planned and executed, with even breaks and rewards planned in. It gives my writing structure which quiets my emotional side and lets me just sit down and write. It works.

I share the same type as Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa. Not sure how 16personalities figured those out but that’s a lot of pressure to live up to with my tiny podcast. All types have celebrity examples so if you look up your type there, you can find some famous people inspiration.

sO, TO SUMMARIZE…

Finding your personality type is not only a bit of fun but can also help you know yourself better and inspire new ideas when it comes to forming or refreshing your writing routine. The website I recommend you check out is www.16personalities.com but any other resource will do, provided it gives you a result that you feel is accurate and helpful. I would love to hear what type you are and how it informs your daily life, if at all.

Next week, I’m diving straight into season two – Your personality, where I will dig deep into what are the best approaches to a writing routine for the different MBTI types. Come join me by subscribing to the show on your favorite podcasting platform.

If you want to be up to date on Pen Garden news, subscribe to the show and sign up to my newsletter. I promise no spam, only cups of writing joy.

If you want to continue the conversation, you can poke me on The Pen Garden Facebook page or tweet me @laineydelaroque. Thanks very much for listening everyone. Hope you have an awesome week and speak to you soon.

Sources