The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Personality for Writing

by Tricia Dower

I’m taking a short break from attempting to add to the measly 5,000 words I’ve contributed so far toward my next book.

I could’ve/should’ve started before but I didn’t, despite lamenting my absence from writing since Silent Girl turned me into a huckster. I could’ve/should’ve started before, but I wanted to travel, wanted to see my kids and grandkids and visit faraway friends. I could’ve/should’ve started before, but I knew it would send me into that crazy place between inspiration and despair: sitting in a room for hours by myself, wanting to be someplace else until I actually am someplace else.

According to the results of an online personality test that didn’t cost me anything and, therefore, may be worthless, I am somewhat less outgoing than the average female. This makes sitting in that room by myself tolerable. The report says: Most females like to keep themselves busy with continuous interaction, conversations, and the company of others. [Continuous?] You also enjoy these things, but having some time on your own is equally important to you. This is one of the guiding parts of your personality. [I don’t know one woman who doesn’t enjoy having some time on her own. Oops, strike that. I do know one, just one.]

Another guiding part of my personality is that I prefer starting things to finishing them. The average female or male feels most comfortable in an environment that is semi-structured and stable. They enjoy finishing a project more than they enjoy beginning a project. You are somewhat different in this regard: you like the excitement of open-ended possibilities.

Bang on. Before I left the corporate world I drove my staff crazy because I would suggest far too many big ideas than they could implement. I like trying fancy recipes but dislike cleaning up after myself. When I start writing something, I confront that first blank page with evangelical fervour. But soon the enormity of the task (how many more words?) makes my keyboard buckle. The only thing that saves me, if you believe the report, is that I’m also more focused than the average bear, male or female. So, I’m probably going to keep slogging until the book is done.

And, it’s unlikely I’ll stage any histrionics along the way. According to the report: You are more relaxed and calm than the average female and male when it comes to stress and feeling intense emotions. The average female and male are more reactive to their feelings and mood swings than you are. Your balanced way of dealing with emotions is a guiding part of your personality. No shit. Not only am I relaxed. I may require last rites. The average male scored 74 and the average female 76 on Emotionality. I scored 41.

Thank you for sharing this break with me. You probably can’t tell how much I enjoyed it.


Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Isn't that interesting? That you scored low on emotionality and yet your stories are so evocative of powerful emotion. Verrrrrryyyy interesting! Makes me wonder about two things- One: that you write to discover your emotional world and Two: that you don't dump all kinds of gloopy sentiment into the surface of the story allowing the READER room to have their own emotions in response. Hmmmm...

I hope you enjoyed your break. And now GET BACK TO WORK! We want the next collection!

Thu Nov 20, 12:04:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Interesting, indeed! I think you're on to something with your comments about writing to discover my emotional world. Strong emotions, positive or negative, were discouraged in my family. Loss of control was the worst thing that could happen to you.It's fun to allow my characters to go to extremes.

Thu Nov 20, 01:27:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

"Loss of control was the worst thing that could happen to you.It's fun to allow my characters to go to extremes."

This is something I can relate to as well, Tricia. But I wonder how healthy it is keeping the emotions in check until we can get to the computer. Or if there's a choice. I was never outgoing to begin with.

Try and enjoy your break.

Thu Nov 20, 10:25:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Hi Tony. I don't imagine it's the healthiest state of affairs but we're probably stuck with the way we're hard-wired.

Thu Nov 20, 11:56:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Emotions are such fickle things. I could cry during a sappy part of a movie, but hold the tears back during a funeral.

As far as pimping novels goes, I'm as guilty as anyone. I'm supposed to be finishing a 50K novel by January 15th (extended deadline) but I'm presently more interested in getting my pitiful little POD novel Bad Ice more exposure.

Sun Nov 23, 07:23:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

So true about emotions, Chumplet. And I hear you about your Bad Ice. It's frustrating to see one your "kids" not recognized for the genius she is.

Tue Nov 25, 04:59:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger T. Lee said...

I used to believe I didn't have the 'personality for writing' because I was so social. Ha! Paradigm-creating can be damaging to kids; like when it was assumed girls weren't as good as boys at maths. Oh, wait. That's still a common misconception...

Tue Nov 25, 06:41:00 pm GMT-5  

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