Personality Types, Spiritual Gifts, and Writing

I’m a 5 wing 6, which corresponds with INTJ on the Myer’s Briggs test. While that is rare in the world at large (For every 500 women, only 4 are INTJ), I have noticed, through interviews on the subject and personal suspicions, that many women writers are this type as well (Jane Austen!).

Here’s why all the lady fives are prone to pen and paper–we like to observe, analyze, and we intellectualize emotion. We like isolation and knowledge. We may write things out to impose organization, and we think for ourselves. These are all elements that tend to make a writer (or, as personality tests keep telling me, a scientist or computer genius–I chose the less wealthy path I suppose)

I also think that writing helps me engage with my emotions and think through the human experience. I did (and do) have a hard time with social situations–I think back to my child and high school self especially, struggling so hard to understand (and like) people while my sisters made it look effortless (as a 7 and a 9, it was for them!).

When I was growing up, sometimes I would wish I had a different personality–something more flirty and bubbly like a 7, or all around happy and likeable like a 9–but overtime I’ve grown to appreciate my INTJ/type 5-ness and see the value in it. I never get bored because I’m always learning. I don’t feel the need to attain social recognition (in fact, the less anyone notices me, the better). I am fine doing my own thing and don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes I can feel that something is going to happen a certain way before it happens–nothing mystical to this, I think it is my subconscious putting things together that I’ve observed over time.

Social situations are still hard, but they have gotten much easier as I’ve gotten older and acclimated to life (some take longer than others). I was recently  looking over my spiritual gifts assessment I took when first becoming a member at our church plant, and, to my shock, Hospitality was #6 on my gifts. Hospitality! This from the person who once secretly texted my husband “get him out of here” when he had a friend over past 8pm (this was years ago, no one in our current town…).

My top spiritual gifts were Discernment, Knowledge and Serving. I think that these too are likely indicative of the Type 5 (unless they are randomly musically talented). But hospitality is not something that would typically show up for someone of my personality type at all. You know where it came from? I started being hospitable–hosting a small group at my home–about five years ago, and I grew in it. At first, I hated it, but after a few years of doing it, I started looking forward to it, and when we moved to another state three years in, I found that I made more friends the first year there than I did after three years in our previous state. Stretching myself to do something outside of my “gifting” and personality type helped me grow in an area most INTJs need to grow in.

So, if you are writer, what type are you? How do you think your type helps you as a writer? Do you know your spiritual gifts?



ambitions, love languages, and the fleeting quality of time

I find that most often the biggest frustrations I find in writing are when my visions for a project / poem / etc don’t match up to my ability to execute. More often than not, my ability to execute is limited by TIME (lack of time, lack of time). Everyone gets the same 24 hours but not everyone has so many people pulling to have some of that time. And my love language is quality time so I give my time to what and who I love–I’m not going to go to something I don’t care about or spend time with you if you mean nothing to me. I realized recently at a church ladies women’s retreat that Quality Time being my love language trickles down into a lot of decisions I make–my biggest fear in parenting? that my children won’t get enough time with me (and won’t feel loved–but that is how I feel loved, not necessarily how they feel loved!). one of my main reasons for homeschooling? so we can spend our time on what we love to learn about (not what the government bids us learn about). my favorite ritual of the day? coffee + chat time with my husband in the mornings. Time weighs heavy on me. As it should–it’s fleeting (favorite book of the bible: Ecclesiastes. A time for, a time for, a time for….).  and also this: Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12). Like any quality a person has, my appreciation/ apprehension of time can be a strength (wisdom) but it can also be a weakness (fear). I pray that God mold me to turn this to wisdom and set my eyes on things above rather than cling to my minutes and hours with a cold-hearted fear.

Writing the 3rd poetry manuscript

The past year or two I’ve been working on my third manuscript–a collection of persona poems from the perspective of women from church history (it really is more exciting than that sounds!). I’ve got some of them linked HERE if you’d like to read a few.

I’m to the point where I’ve got 50ish poems in the collection–that is probably going to be most of it, but, since my last two books were fairly short, I’m aiming to write another twenty or thirty poems for this book.

For a while I was pretty unmotivated to work on this project. I have a side chapbook poem collection that has been sucking out a lot of my writing energy (but is exciting in its own way–not something that I think will become a book anytime soon, however).

Most of all, I’m disillusioned with publishing (see most of my previous posts). My books hardly sell, so what is the point?

Then I started reading PR for Poets by Jeannine Hall Gailey. I’ll post a review soon….but for now, let me just tell you: it has restored my desire to publish. Hearing that even the editor of RATTLE only sells a hundred of his books…within FIVE YEARS!….actually made me feel a lot better. I just need to find my audience! And perhaps learn to self-promote a little. But not in a yucky greasy way but in a “hey look at this!” way.

In the book she quotes Kelli Russell Agodon and she says not to put a spotlight on your work but instead the glow of a candle, or take it out in the sunlight. I love that idea. I want my work out in the sunlight.

but I am also thinking about my limitations — waiting another couple years would perhaps be better timing for promoting a book and certainly wouldn’t hurt the editing and refining.

So all this to say, the third book is chugging along, but don’t look for it on shelves any time before baby D is potty trained.