Are you a Sensing or an Intuitive writer?

Hi SE friends! Gwen with you today, and I’ll be focusing on why we write as we do.

Last month I commented on Extroverts and Introverts, per Dr. Carl Jung’s typology. This post will look at the most challenging difference on his scale: Sensing types (who account for 75 percentage of the population) and Intuitive types. If you are unsure whether you’re a Sensor or an Intuitive, you can go to this site and take a short test.

So who are these folks and how do their perspectives affect writing?

First a story. When I was a kid, I innocently asked my dad how cars work. I was just making conversation and picked a topic I thought he’d like. But dad took me seriously and led me outside to the car. He lifted the hood and began explaining how one thing leads to the next. I only heard the words pistons and radiator. My thoughts were focused on my dad. I was intrigued by his love for cars and amazed by the detailed way he explained how all the different components worked together. By the time he reached the exhaust pipe, I was ever so relieved.

My dad, a farmer, was a Sensing person — very observant, focused on the present, concrete, explicit, and literal. I’m the opposite, a bit of a dreamer and always thinking of possibilities. Through the years, it was my dad who helped me see in the present and in the concrete.

I mention this difference because it finds expression in our writing. The authors below, for example, are all Sensing types. In general, their writing is very direct. Thriller or crime writers often fall into this typology.

On the opposite side, the 25 percent side, the Intuitive folks forge a different path. By nature, they are more figurative and abstract. They love the symbolic world and poetic images. These writers are commonly found in fantasy or sci-fi genres. Timelines are less important to them, but the underlying theme of their story is front and center. They enjoy hidden messages, mystery, and the future. Note the authors below:

All of us use both Intuitive and Sensing functions. But we all favor one over the other. As much as I love the film series from Clancy’s books featuring Jack Ryan, I’ve never read his work. In fact, of the list of Sensing types above, I’ve only read Ernest Hemingway, and that is probably because it was required reading when I was in school. But, with the Intuitive list, I’ve read books from each of the writers. When I realized this fact, I started looking at the writing style of these two groups of authors.  

Take a look at these short clips from their writing:

Fascinating, isn’t it? Seeing the difference in styles has prompted me to pick up one of Clancy’s books. It’s time for me to meet this impressive man through his writing. I suspect I’ll be learning as much about me as I will about him.

A final thought, Jung encouraged his followers to strive for balance. With that as a goal, it seems to me that Sensing writers might consider incorporating some unspoken communication between characters and adding metaphors. On the other side of the fence, Intuitive writers might consider composing line-to-line in a logical progression rather than leaps. They could also pay close attention to the setting and detailed information.

We’ve all much to learn, but I find it thought-provoking that a key aspect of our writing style is something we were born with. Do you find that intriguing as well? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Till next time, have a wonderful weekend!

79 thoughts on “Are you a Sensing or an Intuitive writer?

  1. So interesting, Gwen, and it makes a lot of “intuitive sense.” I can definitely see the contrast, and I do enjoy reading both types of books, though I’m apt to underline those beautiful intuiting passages over the sensing ones. My preference. I think it’s good to know our preferences so that we can develop a bit of a balance in our writing when its called for. Fascinating post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Diana. Your conclusion is mine as well. By looking into typology and writing styles, it helps me see why good books are liked and disliked by readers. We are drawn to certain styles. It’s been an intriguing journey for me. I’m so pleased you accompanied me. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Sue, I’m so pleased you liked the post. It’s stunning how many writers are INFJs, given how rare this typology is in terms of the general public. Thank you for sharing and brightening the day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating post, Gwen. I followed the link to do the test and I’m another INFJ. When I looked at the information following the test, it was uncanny seeing my choices. I love the way you alternated the examples between sensing and intuitive writers – it helped enormously!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post, Alex. Isn’t it amazing to unravel our typology and see how it affects our writing? I’m surprised by the number of INFJ writers. It’s truly a rare type. You’re one of the jewels! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Gwen–This was a very interesting post about personality. I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs test and am strongly intuitive. In the past, I’ve worked with a developmental editor who was sensing. He helped guide me through some of the confusion on plot and fantasy. This is probably why some readers are drawn to certain genres. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linnea. I’m so happy you liked the post. I’m not surprised you are intuitive. Like you, I’ve been helped by sensing readers who notice what I don’t see. We need each other, don’t we? Thank you for visiting and sharing – much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! Once upon a time, I offered workshops on Jung’s typologies, but I never thought about how typology influences writing styles. This was a fascinating journey for me, and I’m elated you found it to be the same. It seems we’re type twins, as I’m an INFP. 😊 What fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing! Though I love studying personality stuff and what makes us tick (ENFP with a big N over here), I rarely think about it in connection with the type of writer I am. I think I strive for balance and, though I feel most at home writing fantasy I enjoy writing mystery and action, too. I also enjoy sinking my teeth into some great research to write inspiring nonfiction. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you, Melissa, when it comes to research. Once I get started, it possesses me. LOL. I’m an INFP, and I also like different genres. Thank you for stopping by and sharing with us. I excited to meet you. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  5. On this test, I came out an INTJ, all slight percentages. On the long version, I came out as a Defender. (ISFJ-T). It was really interesting to see the comparison in the writing of the 2 different types of personalities. It was quite obvious, but I’ve never thought of why before. A fascinating post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Judi. It’s interesting to see how our typology influences our writing and our likes/dislikes of reading material. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. 😊

      Like

  6. Hi, Gwen! What a fascinating post! I definitely favor the intuitive writing style, but I know there’s some sensing in me too. I’ll see what the test says later. I do gravitate toward the fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, supernatural genres, though. It makes sense to me that we’re born with our writing style. Thanks for sharing. Have a fabulous weekend! 😉 xo

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. I just took the test again and got the same result I always do when I take it. I’m an INFJ. As a writer I’m mostly intuitive, but as a reader I go either way, depending on the genre I’m a favoring at the moment (I read a lot of them). My preference as both reader and writer is beautiful lyrical prose that allows me to disappear into the pages. I spent most of my early writing years penning fantasy and sci-fi tales, which having read this post, now doesn’t surprise me. Today I favor mysteries and suspense with supernatural elements.

    Wonderful post, Gwen! I love topics like this!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Craig. I find it fascinating to look at typology as it shapes our writing styles. It brings another layer of richness to the process and its outcome. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I wandered over and took the test. It is interesting and took very little time. I’ve taken a similar test before. This does give one an insight into themselves and opens a window of understanding as to the why we act and write in the style we do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rebecca. It opens a window for me as well. There’s no one cookie-cutter approach; we just need to find the way that fits our strengths and reaches the reader. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fascinating post, Gwen. I love to read all genres and have been drawn lately to pick up some of the mainstream authors to learn more from them. When I took the test and this time, I was an ENFP. I seem to be all over the place – both with my reading and writing, having written short stories in several different genres. But that truly is me. I never seemed to fit in any particular peg all throughout life. I absolutely love this and it’s interesting to me that both Staci and Harmony tested the same. Thank you for sharing this. It gives us so much more insight into why we do what we do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Jan. The test I linked is a very simple version of the original Myers-Briggs test. That’s why you can have different results. LOL. And if you are close to the center on any of the scales, you use both freely. So — think of yourself as wonderfully balanced. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I took the test and I’m ISFP. I think it varies a little each time I take it because it depends on what mood I’m in. 🙂 I’m definitely an introvert. I tend to read more thriller and action stories and Gresham is a favorite author. I like Clancy’s movies, but I’ve never read one of his books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Joan, for sharing. It’s amazing how each of us is drawn to different writers. A major take-away for me is that there is a wonderful diversity of styles and interests in the reading/writing world. There is no one way, no magic formula. But there is good writing, and we’re all drawn to those authors who embody our interests. My husband is a Sensing type, and he reads thrillers and military biographies. He notices things I never see, but I intuitively “get” things he never realizes. Vive la difference! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Another out of the park hit, Gwen. Yeah, I’m an intuitive and would love to move closer to the sensing side. We intuitives are forever being told to show, not tell, and it takes a lot of discipline to keep on that track. Thanks for the insights here. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Do you know, Gwen, I don’t have a clue what I am – I seem to bob aout with the answers. I’ll try again tomorrow – I might be someone else then. lol. Great post though – shared on FB & Twitter. You might get the whole world of writers scratching their heads!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sarah. The test I attached is a very limited one. Online you’ll find a number of questionaires based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I’ve taken the original test multiple times but it’s lengthy. That said, it is thorough and dependable, others not so much. Another way to determine your typology is to look at the characteristics of the type. You’ll know which best describes you: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-myers-briggs-type-indicator-2795583#the-mbti-today
      I am an INFP (mediator). If you read that description, you’ll understand why I’m always trying to reach out to solve the world’s problems. Alas, the world is not interested in my peace-making attempts. 🤣

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  14. I think I told you, I’m an INFJ. But in both my writing and my reading, I think it depends on my mood. I’ll both read and write multiple genres. If I’m reading or writing an action-fueled thriller, I don’t want long, poetic prose. But if I’m reading or writing something more literary and dramatic, I invite it. As long as the writing matches the genre, I can appreciate it, even if I don’t necessarily enjoy it. (I have to admit, I was never a huge fan of Hemingway, but I can acknowledge the power of his work.) I wouldn’t want flowery writing in a crime thriller, nor would I want staccato sentences in a slow family drama.

    I’m enjoying the exploration in this series very much. Thanks, Gwen.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Harmony. Like you, I find Jung’s typologies intriguing as they relate to writing and personal interests. Thanks so much! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: Are you a Sensing or an Intuitive writer? | Story Empire | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

    • It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Once I started looking at the styles, I began to understand my own. Good writing is good writing, but I suspect we are drawn more to those writers who resonate with our own way of seeing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I took the test. I seem to come in between. I suspect I’m an intuitive person really, but I’ve been married for a lifetime to a Sensing person. He’s very logical, and loves nothing more than planning. (A scientist!) I think I’ve picked up a little of his attitudes. I hope he’s picked up some of mine! 😛 So I think that’s why I’ve come out only marginally on one side or the other. Marginally intuitive.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post, Gwen:) I loved the line comparison between the sensing and intuitive writers. I’ve read Hemingway in school and would read Grisham books in the past, but I haven’t read the others. Like you, I’ve read all the intuitive authors. To me their writing is more poetic, where my heart resides. I love how they paint their worlds and offer us some dreams. Although you make a good point of reading both, and I do appreciate a line of logic and detailed information too. I know I’ll stay in my intuitive lane as a writer, but it’s nice to explore other options and strive for balance.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Denise. Delving into typology helped me see how each of us has different challenges as writers and no approach fits all. I never thought about our uniqueness, relative to writing, until doing this study. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Robbie. Once I started looking into typology, it was like pieces of a puzzle coming together, and writing differences began to make sense. I hope you have a great weekend as well. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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