Writing My Way

March 2016. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

It seems like there are two kinds of people in the world…well okay, there are at least 16 (or more!)…but when it comes to writing, people seem to fall into two camps. They love it and want to get published or they hate it and want to avoid writing (except for short texts to friends).

I have been in both camps. For this ESTJ, I find the experience of writing to be both difficult and exhilarating.

How did I get into writing? By accident. I remember disliking writing in school. I could do the mechanics just fine, but it was coming up with something to write about that was the problem. I needed a topic and a prototype to get me going. I didn't know what I was supposed to do unless I had those.

And forget creative writing — I can't just make up stuff! I once wrote a mystery in the 4th grade that probably had a really terrible Nancy Drew-like plot.

Luckily I had several teachers who actually encouraged me, and an INFP Mother who loved writing. I began to think that maybe I was being hard on myself.

I started writing about type in part because I didn't understand what Intuitive authors were saying about Sensing. It made no sense to me, so I thought I would take a stab at it. CAPT published some of my short works in the form of handouts. Verifying Your Type Preferences and Talking in Type were the first ones.

And then I got invited to write with Sandra Hirsh, ENFP, n part because we were writing for an ST audience and having an ST co-author seemed like a good idea. So Introduction to Myers-Briggs Type in Organizations came about.

I remember reading Studs Terkel's book Working when I was in college and thinking, now that's the kind of book I'd like to write if ever wrote a book. It was about real people doing real things — nothing made up there!

And eventually I did write about real people, only its focus was people's personality types not people's work lives. Look at LIFETypes or WORKTypes or anything else I have written — they are all full of real-life examples. It's nice when something really does work out the way you wish it would!

I found it was editing my writing and making things clear and succinct that most appealed to me. I worked for a consulting firm where our product was a written report. My colleagues started coming to me asking me to shorten up their reports. I acquired the nickname, "The Slasher."

I once got a call from an editor at CPP whom I did not know. She began with a question: "Is it true that your nickname is The Slasher?" Well, I didn't know if she thought that was good or bad, but I did say, "Yes." She hired me to take over a stalled book project with ten authors contributing chapters. I got it done. And when we did the revision of the book, it even won an award.

And I actually started writing more and more! I was lucky enough to get invitations from publishers and co-authors to write.

So what is my process of writing like? My first draft is usually quite straightforward and boring. It is like an outline but with short sentences instead of phrases.

Then I go back through and make longer sentences, trying to add in a few adjectives and adverbs along with examples from real life. I ask myself what each paragraph is about and if I have an overview somewhere on the page. And yes, I add that Intuitive overview as best as I can.

Eventually I get into a flow where I lose track of time. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be an Introvert — being so into something that the outside world is irrelevant.

What is most fun for me, however, in the whole writing process is to critique and to edit— yes, I am a dominant Thinking type. Is the phrasing correct? Are there extraneous words? Have I made my point? Will readers know what I'm talking about?

I've also had the pleasure of working with several other really good writers who had different personality types than I do, and I appreciate what they have brought to our works.

My MBTI®Step II co-author Naomi Quenk is an INFP. We jokingly say, "When we agree, we're right" because we say we have covered all eight preferences. We bring different skills to the writing process and work hard to find words that convey what we both mean. It is a joy to work with her.

May you find joy in whatever kind of writing you do!