Personality and writing

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in personality theory and motivation.  From astrology (I’m a Pisces, born in the Year of the Dog), to getting a bachelor’s in psychology, I like to know how and why people work.  I’ve definitely been drawn to the math side of psych – one of my goals was to someday renorm a personality test (yeah, I’m a nerd) – but in all honesty, I’m drawn to everything.

One thing I’ve tended to neglect is the Myers Briggs personality types, because I believe they’re crap.  Complete and total crap.  For God’s sake, some random woman invented the test in her basement!  No rigorous testing, like the MMPI or PAI.  It’s as scientifically valid as Freud’s id and ego.

Recently it was brought to my intention that I feel so strongly because I’m an INTJ – basically, an eccentric uber-logical person.  Still doubting this (because I’m an uber-logical person, albeit my own special eccentric logic), I’ve recently read up on my type.

Holy crapola.  The world makes so much sense now.

Among other things, INTJs:

  • organize their eggs symmetrically in the carton.  It’s not OCD – it’s logic.  And if I weren’t so lazy, I’d organize my books according to the Library of Congress numbering system – because the Dewey Decimal System is for amateurs.
  • love grammar and spelling and will punch you in the head if you mess them up.  Okay, not really, but I’ll think less of you.  Yes, I actually will.  Best compliment you can give me? “I like how you correctly use semicolons in emails.”   No, seriously.  Someone told me that and it still makes me feel warm and happy inside.
  • are super independent and private.  Try to get up in my business, take care of me, or (this is huge for me) hit on me without my explicit approval, and we are through.  Completely and forever.
  • appear aloof (“bitchy” is the term I hear most often).  It’s not because I don’t care what you think, it’s just – okay, I probably don’t care what you think, especially if it’s something superficial.  Like the plot of Mad Men (however, the plot of Mad Men as it relates to the sociopolitical landscape of post WWII America is acceptable).
  • are intelligent.  I can honestly say that I know something about everything.  I can discuss equally well early 20th century Senegalese literature, Swiss immigration policy, and the physiological importance of acetylcholine.  And if I don’t know about something, I’ll learn.  However…
  • are often clueless when it comes to interacting with people.  Again, it’s mostly because I don’t care.  I can use tact when needed, but if I have something to say (like how my teaching program was jeopardizing its mission by misappropriating funding), I’ll say it, consequences be damned (which is a big part of why I’m now unemployed).
The comfiest couch that has ever existed.

 In reading up on INTJs, I stumbled upon this gem about INTJs and writing:

When INTJs express the need to “think about” something, this means something very different from what it might for other types. Namely, the lion’s share of INTJs’ “thinking” or processing occurs outside of their conscious awareness. In other words, their best thinking is typically done without thinking, at least not consciously.

That is why I love random road trips – a chance to let my mind wander and work out whatever story I’m working on (or, like today, because I’m low on gas from yesterday’s random trip – spending seven hours lying on my couch listening to Chevelle – who are complete Tool rip-offs, I know, but I still like them).

In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King, most likely an INTJ, describes his process of writing novels. He is adamant about the fact that he does not consciously plan or piecemeal the plot or direction of his stories. Rather his stories emerge from his unconscious as preexisting wholes, requiring little as far as conscious effort or planning. Other INJ novelists report similar experiences, feeling that once they have established the spigot to their creative unconscious their ideas seem to flow effortlessly and without volition.

I mentioned this in a recent post – I can’t force myself to write; I just have to let it come.  I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this.

What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type?  How does it relate to your writing?  Do you also have major issues with its lack of validity?

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