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Editor's Notes #71, Your Writing Personality
May 03, 2009

The personality of the artist,
at first a cry or a cadence or a mood
and then a fluid, and lambent narrative,
finally refines itself out of existence,
impersonalises itself, so to speak.

-- James Joyce

In this issue:

1. Your writing personality
2. Tickled my funnybone

1. Your writing personality
Your writing personality has nothing to do with your popularity and it's not your character. I'm talking about personality in terms of personal inborn preferences. Today I'm writing about one way in which those preferences influence the way you start a writing project.

One personality difference is in our relationship to structure. Some of us need to move step by step from point A to point B. Others are more intuitive and can take leaps from tree-top to tree-top.

Neither personality trait is better than the other. Each serves a purpose in the world, and all of us act sometimes in a structured way and sometimes intuitively. We do, however, have one way that usually feels most comfortable for us.

This colors the way we start a writing project. The structured writer begins with an outline. Sometimes that outline is in incredible detail. The intuitive writer may begin with the barest whiff of an idea and write thousands of words before having a clear of idea of where she is going. Some writers may not know the final destination until the last word is written.

It's important to give yourself permission to write from your position of strength. That can be hard to do if you follow the advice of an established writer who doesn't understand the legitimate differences in approach and who has a different personality from yours.

Both personality types write great books. The path to a completed project often differs. Even the first steps can be vastly different. If you need an outline, by all means, write one. If outlines strangle you, don't feel guilty if you simply begin to write.

In the end, a great book does not betray the personality of the writer. By the time you have reworked your book to its final stage, how you began will not be evident. That will always remain your secret--unless you decide to tell.

Personality theory offers a great deal of information about human behavior. How personality relates to writers and writing is one of the workshops I offer.


2. Tickled my funnybone
A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.


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