Do you frolic, freely but aimlessly, in the flowered meadows of your imagination? Or are you sobbing into your pillows after yet again failing to find the Muse in the dark caverns of your soul?
Find out what type of writer you are with this highly scientific* quiz.
*totally and utterly made-up. No scientists were harmed in the making of this quiz.
How do you approach planning?
A) Planning? What’s that?
B) Well, I do a lot of thinking and dreaming, and I kind of know what’s going to happen. In fact I’m sure I wrote some notes somewhere *rummages under chair*
C) Colour-coded story arcs, chapters mapped out, character sheets completed before a word goes on the page, check!
When do you tend to write?
A) Whenever inspiration strikes, often late into the night
B) When I can face sitting down and doing it, much less often than I’d like to
C) At consistent times of the day with reasonable regularity
What’s your writing style?
A) Lots of dialogue and action
B) Plenty of description – this is literature, I want people to feel it, to see it!
C) A bit of a mix
What’s your biggest problem with writing?
A) I run out of steam part way through the story
B) I’m constantly struggling with feelings of inadequacy and continually edit or re-start what I’ve written
C) Actually starting to write
How do you feel about other people?:
A) I’m pretty sociable
B) *hides in corner*
C) I like them a lot but I couldn’t eat a whole one
Scroll down to see your results and take part in the poll
So, which writer are you?
Mostly As: The Skinny Dipper
Otherwise known as the Pantser (as in, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants), you like to dive right in and see where you end up, drawing on inspiration whenever it strikes.
A charismatic, funny writer who engages readers’ emotions, you can be prolific and are full of ideas. You’re relatively okay with imperfection and know you can write if you try, so are less likely to get bogged down in the Pit of Procrastinatory Despair.
However, you’re disorganised and inconsistent. This means you’re prone to burnout during productive phases and don’t finish projects because your stories come to a halt when you run out of plot ideas or write yourself into corners. You may also avoid editing (booooooooring!) and need a constant stream of praise to keep going.
How to Skinny Dip with style:
Harness your strengths and borrow techniques from other styles that will help you be consistent and actually finish things.
Having a very rough plan will take the pressure off when you can’t work out what should happen next and prevent you from running out of plot. Keep it very simple (a post-it with 3 disasters and a happy ending, plus a list of all those random characters) so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming, and don’t worry if you rebel and deviate from the plan. After all, you can always make another.
Or, continue as normal, but have some games you can play to get things moving again when you stalled. Spend 5 minutes brainstorming ‘what if’ questions, work out what would be the best, worst and most unexpected thing to happen at this point, or read back and try to solve your plot problem using an existing object or character.
Or reverse it: write the last sentence first and work backwards. If you still struggle, have you considered short stories or non-linear narrative structures? You don’t have to play by other people’s rules to write.
Train yourself to write consistently, even if you don’t feel like it. Make it into a game that you’ll want to play and getting the positive encouragement you need by using 750words or setting a task to write for 5 minutes a day, every day. Get someone to reward you for every achievement (gold stars!) or join an online group where you can cheer each other on.
Mostly Bs: The Tortured Soul
Tortured souls are idealists and dreamers, pure souls who can dedicate themselves for years to the pursuit of their highest calling. Your writing is probably much better than you imagine it to be, and you may be of the literary persuasion or be a naturally good editor. You write with passion and your characters are likely to be rich, finely painted and intricate.
You’re not having much fun at the moment though. Crippled by perfectionism and self-doubt, you might not be able to see past the next comma let alone how to reach that idealised Book of Total Amazingness in your head, so you get frustrated and stuck.
You live in the Pit of Procrastinatory Despair because there’s no way you can live up to your own standards.
How to ease the torture
You’re stifled by thinking you have to write magical words that will make people ooh and ah all the time. That isn’t realistic. It takes a lot of bad words to reach the good ones, and you can choose to struggle horribly with writing your whole life, or you can choose to take one little step at a time towards dealing with that perfectionism and changing your mindset.
LET GO. Give yourself permission to be Gloriously Craptastic. Challenge yourself to write for 5 minutes as badly as possible. Have fun, and do this whenever perfectionism gives you that threatening stare.
The Book of Total Amazingness is an overwhelming prospect, so make a plan and break it up into very small steps (do this in batches as you go for flexibility). If you already know which step you have to write today, you can just get on with it getting hung up on the bigger picture. Just focus on doing your job for that day, and do the same again the next day.
Try to write every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. When you write, set a timer, drown out your inner voices with music, and write like the wind, setting a challenging word-count target so the inner editor can’t keep up. You don’t need it for a first draft.
Did you hear that? DO NOT EDIT before you need to. In fact, try not to read back at all during drafting. Onwards and upwards!
That voice in your head telling you how awful things are? It isn’t the objective truth, it’s just a mean voice. It doesn’t matter if an actor is feeling uninspired or unsure of their ability. Their job is to get up and perform. No excuses. Your job is to do the writing. No excuses. Act like a professional and do the job regardless of how you feel.
Bribe yourself, cheat yourself, join a writing group, take an NLP course, read other people’s rubbish first drafts, try meditation, find a writing partner… basically do anything you have to in order to keep writing.
Mostly Cs: Yes, Sarge!
You like deadlines, have a strong work ethic, are dependable with an eye for detail and have good organisational skills. Plans made and to-do lists written, Sir! You’re not easily ruffled by the chatter in your head and your determination means that you are more likely than other types to actually finish, edit and submit a book for publication.
However, you may have slight control-freak tendencies and be in danger of valuing productivity and deadlines more than minor details like, oh, creativity. Make sure that you aren’t so busy writing to schedules and plans that you fail to explore your world and create flat characters or writing that lacks emotional connection. You may also enjoy the planning stage so much that starting to write is a struggle, and you could be in danger of overwhelm because of the mountainous to-do list you’ve doubtlessly already made.
At ease, soldier
Make the most of your discipline by setting a regular timeslot for writing. You’re motivated by praise for a job well done, so bribe yourself with gold stars, happy faces or bars of chocolate when you reach milestones.
Then take a deep breath. Relaaaaaaaax, and learn to go with the creative flow from the Skinny Dipper. Instead of doing everything in a linear way, ask yourself which scene you want to write at this very moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s the next one in the sequence or one that isn’t even in the plan, let yourself write it just to see how it feels.
Free-write (anything that comes to mind without stopping) for 20 minutes from the perspective of your characters. Put them in situations, ask them about their childhoods, make them write letters. Repeat this until they really feel alive and distinct to you, and see if they behave in the way you’ve told them to. If writing is becoming a struggle, ask yourself whether your plan is still right, and write about it. Let yourself change the plan if it’s wrong.
Free-write on anything: ideas, objects, song lyrics, any random thing can loosen your creative muscles. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, what matters is that you don’t stop writing, even if all you do is complain about your day. If you find it hard to sit down and start writing every time, use free-writing as an easy way in. Once you’ve started, it will feel easier to settle into the real work.
You know that reading is writing-work too, yes? As is taking a shower, going for a long walk, or doodling. Stop feeling guilty, you don’t have to push all the time.
Writer Type Poll
Which one are you? Or are you a mixture? Remember, this is a wildly unscientific poll, and it’s normal to for your writing habits to oscillate anyway. Just take from it anything that’s helpful to you. Do your biggest writing problems fit your style, and if not what gets in your way? Let me know in the comments below.