Are writers introverts? So many of us say we are, but personality tests show that how we view ourselves is not always how others view us. I’ve been subjected to a number of personality and team-building profiles in the business world and I always find them interesting.
Many years ago I took a detailed Myers-Brigg test conducted by my local college. If you’re unfamiliar with Myers-Brigg, it’s based on the foundation that there are sixteen personality types which are factored from four key elements:
Do you focus on the outer world (Extraversion • E) or the inner world (Introversion • I)
Do you focus on the basic information you take in (Sensing • S) or do you interpret and add meaning (Intuition • N)
Do you look at logic and consistency first (Thinking • T) or people and special circumstances (Feeling • F)
When it comes to the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided (Judging • J) or stay open to new information and options (Perceiving/Prospecting • P)
There are short online tests as well as the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® which is usually administered by a certified individual. That’s the one I took decades ago. I don’t remember much about it other than the ending results. I kept them for many years, mostly from a sense of irony. Let me explain:
The test results provided the three career fields for which I was most suited and the three which I should avoid. I only remember two of the three that were considered a good match—the arts, which included anything creative (such as writing) or visionary. The second was teaching and/or academia. I can’t argue with either of those.
As for the fields I should avoid—entrepreneurship, law and real estate. This is where the irony factors in, as I have been employed in the real estate field for over twenty-five years. Granted I employ a lot of creativity in my job, from graphic design, copy writing and even teaching, but I never fail to chuckle over the fact my personality isn’t a good fit with the industry.
Real Estate aside, I’ve taken shorter versions of the Myers-Briggs over the years and my results always come back much the same. I am either an INFJ or INFP personality type. That last letter changes on occasion. My most recent results returned Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Prospecting. My Introvert score is 86% and my Intuitive score is 89%. Feeling is 82% and Prospecting is 54% (you can see why this one fluctuates).
An introvert score of 86% is pretty high in my opinion.
Oddly, most people who work with me see me as outgoing and confident, and when I am in my element, I am both of those. I can also be extroverted when the situation demands, but the performance saps my energy. Even a party—where I have a blast—can leave me depleted and in need of “down time.” It usually takes me a full day or longer to recover from a social event, especially if it’s on the larger scale.
Is this the way of most writers? What is it about our profession that attracts introverts?
Perhaps it’s because we spend so many solitary moments hunched over a keyboard creating worlds from visions in our heads. Would an extrovert have the patience to do that? Would someone who is observant rather than intuitive be able to tap into the emotions of a character? They might be able to note the mechanics of actions, but would they be able to relay what a person feels?
What personality type are you?
To find out take this short free quiz to determine where you rank among the sixteen personality types determined by Myers-Briggs. Then check it against your personality type name. When you’re done come back and share the results.
If you don’t feel up to quiz, do you consider yourself an introvert? Do you think your personality helps or hinders you as an author? I’m a diplomat/mediator which doesn’t come as a surprise to me. If you do take the quiz, tell me if you’re surprised by the results. Are they how you see yourself? How you think others see you? Introvert or not, let’s chat in the comments!