What Sort of Writer Are You?
When I first started writing many years ago (yes, I am getting quite old now), I believed there was only one sort of writer. I had that classic stereotype in my mind, of the dedicated, furrow-browed literary type, working frantically on their ‘Murder She Wrote’-style typewriter and getting through piles of cigarettes and alcohol.
Seventeen years later, I’ve twigged that there are many different ways to write. I’ve also finally learned which I tend to adopt, and there are a lot of benefits in that. Once you’re aware of which type of writer you are, you can play to your strengths… and manage your weaknesses more effectively.
The Different Writers
As always, I commence with a disclaimer. I’m no expert. I’m a lady who likes writing a lot and who has done a fair old bit of writing over the years, but I don’t pretend to be a leading pioneer in the field. However, I’ve observed many different authors over the years and have noticed that they seem to fit roughly into one of these categories:
This is quite a common one. The Agoniser worries about a lot of aspects of their writing. They’re usually meticulous; editing and re-editing for months on end, then still not being happy with the outcome. They generally take quite a few years on one book, because they’re convinced it can be better.
If this is you, I’d guess that your strength lies in your commitment and your attention to detail. Chances are that you’re producing something of a far higher quality than many others, which will stand you in good stead. However, your relentless pursuit of perfection may hold you back.
Okay, so this one I definitely relate to. The Flitter has loads of great ideas and needs to get them all down on paper, this very instant. They’ve got about ten projects they’re working on right now, and none of them are finished.
The great thing about the flitter is that they’re work is likely to be exciting, filled with enthusiasm and passion. But the details might get lost; and hey, if none of those projects get completed, they won’t get read by people either!
Some writers are quite secretive. They’d rather not tell people what they’re working on, as they prefer to keep their work in a state of total isolation until it’s finished. They’re often extremely determined and are excellent at getting the job done.
Their strength has to be their single-minded pursuit of getting the book completed, without distraction. In our busy 21st century world, that’s a hard thing to achieve. However, by not sharing their work with others, they’re missing out on valuable feedback.
Again, I get this one. Everything out there is a potential for a new story. That parcel that’s just been posted through the door? It’s got thriller-mystery written all over it. The cat, slinking along the window-ledge? Another great kid’s story. The Ideas-Magpie is constantly making notes about everything that’s going on around them and storing it for future use.
It’s great to be aware of the world around you – there’s so much rich material out there for book inspiration. But it’s important to remember that you need to get it down in writing. A notepad of observations is only useful if you actively incorporate it into your story.
Again, another common one – and I think all writers suffer from this occasionally. The Procrastinator has probably been working on the same book for ages, but finds it difficult to actually sit down and write the thing. They’ll think about it an awful lot, and they’ll sometimes revisit the first few pages over and over, just to say that they have done something with it, but they won’t actually write much of it, because there’s always something else to do.
The procrastinator usually has a whole tonne of excellent ideas. They’ve taken the time to work out exactly where the story’s going, which is useful. The problem is, they’ve dithered around so much that they’ve started to become afraid of the book. Sitting down in front of the computer and writing has become a terrifying prospect. And that can be hard to break.
The Wing-it Wonder
Some writers love to start a book and see where it will go. There’s something liberating about beginning a story with no idea what will happen further down the line… but it’s quite unsettling too!
The Wing-it Wonder, when they get it right, hits pure gold. They create an exciting story which is fuelled by pure inspiration and instinct. But, if they get it wrong, it’s probably a hot mess, which is a nightmare to edit.
The Endless Plotter
At the other end of the scale, there’s the painstaking Plotter. You know this type of writer; they’ve got acres of post-it notes and diagrams stuck to their wall, and about five notepads, all filled with detailed structural scribblings.
Naturally, their book is planned to perfection. There won’t be any inconsistencies or missteps, because they’ve ensured that’s the case. However, there might not be much natural joy or excitement to it either. In fact, if they’ve overdone it, they may accidentally suck the life out of the book entirely.
What Are You?
I definitely display signs of being a Flitter – too many ideas, not enough time to turn them all into books! However, the strength of that is that I’m prolific. Over the years I’ve trained myself to be able to get those ideas out quickly and transform at least a few of them into books.
But I recognise the weakness too. I know I need to show more focus at times, and commit to one idea, rather than getting 30,000 words through one book and deciding that I simply HAVE TO start another one. Realising this has really helped with my writing – just a simple acknowledgement that that’s the kind of writer I am.
It’s also quite fun trying out different ways of writing, to see if they work for you. I tried to meticulously plan out a book a while back (usually I fall somewhere in the middle of ‘pantser’ and ‘plotter’) – and although it wasn’t for me, it was fascinating experimenting with the process. I’d recommend it – who knows what new skills you might pick up!
Dr Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural – The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost, is available to buy – you can do so here (US) or here (UK). Also, The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger and The Case of the Hidden Daemon are also out, with the fourth in the series hopefully coming soon. Watch this space!