Welcome to the official blog of Maumee Valley Romance Writers of America! We're a local writers' group in the Toledo, Ohio area. Most of us write romance, but we also have members who write other genres too. New members are always welcome to visit or join the group. See the meetings page for details. We post every Monday and Friday about all things book-related. Whether you're a writer, reader, or both, we hope you'll stop by often and get to know our dozen contributors.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Personality Tests

So, earlier this week, a friend of mine had me take a Meyers Briggs type personality assessment. I did, and what I found out was that I am, indeed, (for lack of a better term) insane. Yep. I am both intuitive and analytical, feeling and logical, and I am neither right brain or left brain -- I am both.

I'm only joking when I say I'm insane (or am I?), but I would say that my methods of dealing with life can often times be described as odd and counterproductive. At least now, I understand why. For example, I am what is commonly known as a pantser. I am not a plotter or a planner when it comes to writing my books, instead, I rely on feeling and intuition to learn my characters and my story. And as I learn, the books somehow get written -- though there have been several instances where I seriously wondered HOW, but that's another post for another day.

Here's where it gets odd, though. I recognize I'm a pantser. I completely get that I write by intuition and feeling, but the analytical side of me can't just let that be. Oh, no. With every book, I create a very pretty Excel spreadsheet that details how many words per day I'm going to write for so many days, until the book is done. This is logical. This makes sense, right?

Sure, except when you can't promise to write so many words each day for so many days since you write by intuition and feeling. Every book I've written is slow, slow, slow in the beginning and then cranks up past the mid-point. Seriously, the first half of almost every book I've written has been months in the making, but the last half? Weeks, probably. No more than a month, for sure.

So what ends up happening early on in a book is I don't meet my schedule, my daily goals, and I end up feeling as if I've failed. Then, that feeling only grows worse with each day that I "fall behind," when truthfully, I'm not falling behind. I'm following my convoluted process, the same process that has worked for every book I've written. But that doesn't stop the feelings of failure, and it doesn't stop me from creating a pretty spreadsheet for the next book.

But it is counterproductive, because feelings of failure can screw with my brain, and hinder my forward motion. I really need to try something different, if I can somehow find a way to feed that analytical/logical side while staying true to the intuitive/feeling side. Good luck, right? If any of you have any ideas, please share...I need all the help I can get.

For those curious, I tested as an INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). One of the many descriptions of this personality type can be found at The Personality Page. Check it out, especially if you know me. And if you're interested in finding out your personality type, you can take the test I took at HumanMetrics. If you take the test or already know your personality type, post it in the comments and share if you recognize yourself in the description.

Have a great day!

Tracy Madison is an award-winning author who writes contemporary romances for Harlequin Special Edition. You can learn more about her and her books at her website, www.tracymadison.com.


Barbara S. Andrews said...

Aren't personalities weird sometimes? For example, I have a tendency to feel so overwhelmed by everything that "should" be done that when I'm actually doing something I feel guilty that I'm not doing something else. OR, I may just give up and do nothing instead. So dumb!

Which is why I thought I'd try Panera Prison a time or two. But I've found that Fake Panera Prison works on weekdays (well, most of the time), so there's no reason it can't also work on weekends. And it's a whole lot quieter too!

But if I start going off-track again, I'll for sure do the prison thing!

Kristina Knight said...

Great post, Tracy! My process probably wouldn't work for anyone else, but like you I do like a nice spreadsheet. I don't plot, I outline...and the outline get red marks and x-ed out and changed about 15 times per book. The only thing that really stays are the character traits and pasts of my hero and heroine. It works for me, but would probably give anyone else hives.

Patrice Kavanaugh said...

Hi Tracy, I LOVE these kinds of tests and discovered, years ago, I am INT/FJ. Meaning, I'm very much in the middle between Thinking and Feeling on the 3rd spectrum. I'll have to take the test again, though, to see if I've changed because I've heard that certain traits can bloom or recede over time and depending on life experiences, etc. I feel I'm a bit schizo between analytical/ emotional. I chalk that up to being a Gemini!!

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Barbara: Personalities can definitely be weird at times. And I'm right there with you -- there are times I'm doing one thing, but my mind hollers at me I should be doing something else, when in truth, both tasks are important.

Hey, Kristina! LOL, my process would give most other folks hives, though I do know one or two others who are very similar to me in their writing processes. Heck, all that matters is that your process works for YOU. :)

Patrice, can you believe I had never taken one of these tests? Definitely take the test again, I'm interested to see if you've changed at all. I have to say I'm a bit addicted to this now...I'll probably make all my friends take the test, just so I can see where they fall.

Constance Phillips said...

Very interesting post, Tracy. I took one of these tests years ago. In fact, It was for a writing class, the teacher thought it was important to know how you work.

My process is a twisted hybrid of plotting and flying by the seat of the pants. I wish had more structure in my style, but in the end it's what works that counts.

Shay Lacy said...

Tracy: It's scary how your post sounds like my process. Those first few chapters crawl, but the final 100 pages fly in less than two weeks. Thanks for making me feel more normal.

Sloan Parker said...

Usually I start off very structured with plotting exercises and writing an outline, then the more I work on a story, the more I let my gut feelings take over. I just have to remember that works for me and not fight those hunches. Although sometimes I also find I have to give a lot of thought and planning to a plot issue, even in the final stages of a story. Maybe I should stop trying to figure me out and just roll with it. Great post, Tracy. Thanks for sharing.

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Constance: Again, Congrats on your Very Exciting News! And yes, I can see how knowing your personality type can come in helpful when figuring out your writing process.

Shay! You ARE normal. So am I. Even if neither of us feel that way very often, lol. Just remember that that the only process that works is the one that is right for you. Heaven knows, if I tried plotting out a book from page one through the end, with all the scenes identified, I would never write the book. In my mind, I'd feel as if I already knew everything worth learning...but for others, that is the right process, and for others -- Well, let's just say I know of one person who writes her scenes out of order and sews them together at the end. It works for her but would drive me batty.

Sloan, your comment reminds me that I plot more than I think I do. As I near the middle of the story, my mind starts to take the pieces I've presented and tries to figure out the best way to bring the story to its conclusion. Backward plotting, maybe, but in some ways, I like it that way. In others...I wish I was more analytical. Thanks for the comment!