There is much that can inspire our love for writing. As writers, we can: create worlds, bring our characters to life, experience the joy of words, reveal ideas, plot our dreams, take up a vorpal sword against the things we hate, and have our sheer egoism satisfied.

As J. K. Rawlings’s wonderful character Snape said about potions, creative writing can: “teach you to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death.”

Despite all this, George Orwell describes writing a book as: “a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist or understand.”

Despite demons having a poor reputation, we should be grateful to these demons if they Inspire our love for writing,

Orwell’s demons

George Orwell
George Orwell: ‘What I have most wanted to do… is to make political writing into an art’

Any sensible writer would be happy to leave Orwell’s demons alone. But, whenever I’m told I cannot understand, my writing demons compel me to probe.

I have made links between these demons and personality traits. These demons are what inspires writing.

Making these links has shown how our writing personality can help to make our writing more appealing.

Good prose or poetry is like a window on our external as well as our inner world. Our writing personality is that part of our personality that we reveal in our writing.

Knowing which personality traits inspire our love for writing is beneficial. For example, a charismatic friend of mine got his letters the editor published when he took his wife’s advice — he edited out his last three paragraphs because this was where he started to rant. In contrast. my academic personality means my last paragraphs are often where I should start because it is where my curiosity has achieved a better understanding of the topic.

Promise to our readers

It is our writing personality and love of writing that creates our promise to our readers. This promise should be revealing and consistent for all our published work. It will Inspire our love for writing like a sourdough starter makes many loaves of bread.

Our writing personality and our promise to our readers are embedded in our writing. They are about the feelings our writing evokes. They should make our writing unaffected and engaging as if we are talking with our friends at a cafe. To link this promise to personality, it has been divided into six inspirations. They are: creating worlds, Plot-driven, character development, love of words, curating ideas., and charisma.

A writer’s promise to their reader may only extend to one or two of these inspirations. However, this article discusses how our personalities can be nurtured to be strong enough to encompass more inspirations in our writing.

Great writers can’t be categorised with a single inspiration. Their writing will draw on a sagacious nature. Perhaps this is why Orwell says writing is: “a horrible, exhausting struggle.”

Developing a creative and elaborate writing personality is an exhausting struggle. Still, it rescues writers from the foul drudgery of preconception. It lets them fly in the liberating elation of including, revealing, clarifying, and connecting.

Writing personality types

The development of our writing walks hand-in-hand with our struggle to enhance our personality. Developing and understanding our personality traits will inspire our love of writing. We should nurture personality traits that help us write vital books and avoid those influences that lead to meaningless and soulless sentences with decorative adjectives and posturing.

There are many ways to categorise personality traits, and there are even more ways they can affect our writing. This article focuses on the OCEAN model. This model puts forward the following five personality types:

  1. openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
  2. conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless)
  3. extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
  4. agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational)
  5. neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident)

This article’s recognition of personality could build our understanding of our promise to our readers and inspire our love for writing. It will help us choose an appropriate genre, readership and brand for us as authors.

This awareness can also be used to identify our book’s takeaways and help create beautifully crafted work. This is discussed in “Creating a story and writing our masterpiece.

This is not an academic treatment of this subject, and academic language has been avoided.

A writer’s nature can support the six inspirations in many different ways. The links between what could inspire us and our personality are summarised in the table below.

Writing inspirationsOpenness personality trait (the foundation)Traits and states we can influence
1, Creating worldsactive imaginationimagination or fantasy
2. Plot-drivenactive imaginationConscientious or introversion
3. Character developmentattentiveness to inner feelingsself-esteem and sensory processing sensitivity
4. Love of wordsaesthetic sensitivityknowledge and poignant feelings
5. Curating ideas.intellectual curiosityfluid and crystallised intelligence
6. Charisma and political writingpreference for varietypassion and pace
Linking writing inspirations to personality traits

Personality traits to nurture

The openness to experience trait is most dependent on genetics. This trait comprises active imagination, attentiveness to inner feelings, aesthetic sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, and preference for variety. These components are the foundations of a writing personality.

Three of the other OCEAN personality traits are emotional stability, conscientiousness and agreeableness. Across years or decades, they can adapt to increase the maturity of our writing.

These states occur for agreeability, emotional resilience and extraversion. They can vary more within a person than personality traits vary between people.

This flexibility makes personality states an essential part of our writing personality. For example, ‘agreeability’ can be increased to create intense interest in a character or repressed to make a point, no matter who it offends.

Personality states are the counterparts of personality traits. They are the short-term behaviours, feelings, and thoughts we make in response to conscious goal setting. The changes due to personality states are similar to variation in emotions such as self-esteem and mood.

1. Creating worlds

Writers with active imaginations prefer new experiences and generally have a more comprehensive range of interests. This enables them to create worlds and provide their fiction with a strong sense of place.

With a created world, readers will have something to leap into. As if entering a portal, this enables them to immerse themselves in the story’s world.

Entering created worlds can release us from our everyday lives and help us deal with issues and problems. Well crafted worlds are a powerful siren song for our readers, a significant benefit of story, and a strong inspiration for writers.

Creating worlds
Creating worlds

Stimulating new worlds

Ou created worlds can be imagined from what physically exists or fantasied from within ourselves. A promise to our readers could be to allows the reader to actually visit our created world and live there for a time, not simply think about it. Authors such as Eric Newby, Steven King, J.K. Rowling or Tim Winton achieve this.

With an active imagination, events, smells, and feelings can stimulate our imagined worlds. These memories of the places in our past can transport us back to this earlier time. To create powerful fictional worlds, they would be places that live within us and help to define our existence.

The sub-conscious can create images of fantasised worlds using emotions attached to our observed world or fantasy. These imaginary worlds can be thought of as the realm of angels, as described in many religions. Our dreams, songs, dance, poetry, and the visual arts can generate these images.

2. Plot our dreams

Writers who promise sophisticated plots for their readers are referred to as plot-driven (or plotters). They can delve into their childhood dreams to find inspiration, as with creating worlds. These dreams can bring to life a plotter’s story of hope and fantasy with their ability to mirror the ideals we once had as children but have lost in our adult world. They bring an understanding of our deepest desires and definitions of affection.

However, unlike creating worlds, plot-driven stories promise to have complex external conflict. They will develop multiple subplots, unexpected storylines, and plot twists. . Plot-driven stories are not something writers find on the page as they write. We need a high state of introversion or conscientiousness to plan and not be spontaneous;

Conscientiousness, which aims for industriousness and achievement, is creative. At the same time, order, dutifulness, and deliberation appear to reduce creative ability.

Examples of plot-driven authors are George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dan Brown, Isaac AsimovandGillian Flynn.

3. Bringing characters to life

We can see characters in stone and flowers
It is natural to see characters in stone and flowers

Character-driven writers are attentive to inner feelings. They love to depict personalities and emotions. Their characters come to life on the page for both them and their readers.

If you like Jane Harper, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy or Kazuo Ishiguro you must be attentive to inner feelings. Character-driven fiction could be part of your promise to your readers.

Although an emotional response to a person is the most common, a stone carving or even a bunch of flowers can inspire the creation of a character.

Writers can also increase their ability to bring characters to life through a heightened state of self-esteem and sensory processing sensitivity.

Analysing novel situations, being sensitive to subtle stimuli, and pondering deeper emotions and motivations doesn’t make for a perfect dinner guest. Most people don’t like to be scrutinised.  In combination with unhealthy self-esteem, this sensitivity can also lead to over-reaction.

Readers, on the other hand, do like and even expect insights into fictional characters. As writers, sensory processing sensitivity could be what we need to bring characters to life.

4. Experiencing the joy of words

Lewis Carroll’s caterpillar was blessed with the joy of words
Lewis Carroll’s caterpillar was blessed with the joy of words

Writing develops our facility with words through our developing perception of their beauty. Our promise to our readers can be the charm and delight we conjure with mere words. This promise is for aesthetic words, sounds and associations. It is for the pleasure and impact of one sound on another— the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.

For writing, the generation of aesthetic states involves creating interest with an original arrangement of words. Gaining an understanding elicits pleasure. However, when the novelty remains obscure, confusion can also occur.

Aesthetic sensitivity explains individual differences in creating, seeking, and appreciating art. It is associated with knowledge and poignant feelings. It relies on the bridge between the body and the mind. Or, if you prefer, the link between our conscious and subconscious minds. As Henry James said: “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance… and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.”

Being charmed by authors, such as Henry James, Patrick White, R.R. Tolkien, Markus Zusak or Oscar Wilde, could mean you have a high aesthetic sensitivity.  

5. Curiosity with ideas

Another joy of writing is how it develops our artistry for discovering original ideas. Writers with curiosity use words to make sense of reality. They desire to see things as they are and elucidate their meaning. Intellectual curiosity is about experimenting with new experiences and changing opinion when wrong.

These ideas could be conceptual or abstractions, social or political, hypothesis or plan, chaos or thesis, material or metaphysical. Exploring ideas can help us see past stereotypes and convey an insightful knowledge of human existence in all of its incredible variety.

Curious people feel greater interest because they can better understand situations. This is associated with seeking and conquering intellectually stimulating events, which map onto interest and understanding. It needs both reasoning skills and knowledge (fluid and crystallised intelligence),

Calling to touch base
Calling to touch base

Curiosity with ideas is about using interest to source the best ingredients, not just about cooking results. If this is your promise to your readers, you will need intellectual curiosity to open yourself to chaos and ambiguity. You should be able to write about a question before you know the answer. Douglas Adams, Haruki Murakami, Richard Flanagan and Barbara Kingsolver are all writers with curiosity.

6. Charisma, political writing and the power of story

A writer’s promise to their readers can be that their storeys power is not to dismiss, distort, distract, and divide. Writers, such as Orwell, push the envelope of world understanding in all the directions it can go. They rally people to strive for the kind of inclusive society that we should be.

This is like taking up the vorpal sword against world evil—a solid inspiration for writing. But we’ll need charisma before we make this a promise.

Charisma was first used by rulers such as royalty or the clergy to lead their followers. This is similar to the pecking order in other animals. However, with language development, charisma has become so complicated in humans that psychologists can’t agree on an empirical definition.

‘The Jabberwocky’”Came whiffling through the tulgey wood”.
‘The Jabberwocky’ ”Came whiffling through the tulgey wood”.

Preference for variety and change is part of political writing. Stories with passion and pace can arouse emotions to challenge the status quo. It is like someone in a group pointing and saying, “look at that.

Charismatic prose can contain rhetorical questions, sound confident, invent creative lists or metaphors, be contemporary and have a voice and language appropriate for readers. This signals a writer’s skills and can convince readers to change opinions or behaviour. But there is no recipe for charisma. Doing these things can also make us seem needy and out of touch.

What makes charisma effective is not well understood, and that is a good thing. If you work it out, don’t tell any advertisers.

Most writers will only be able to facilitate change rather than cause it. If we lack the charisma to drive change, it can be better to think of writing as curating the arguments for others to run with. We do not need to be a rallying point to facilitate change.

Charisma is an essential quality of Philip Roth, Jonathan Swift, Kingsley Amis, Erica Jong and George Orwell. These writers would not be successful if nobody hated them. Most readers will only like them if they agree with them. Success for political writers means they inspire some of us to take up the vorpal sword with them.

Related reading


Seth Godin’s “This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

Kenneth Vickery ad Andrew J Harvey’s “How to Publish an eBook

Kenneth Vickery, “Book Marketing Strategies“, which is available to view before -publishing.

On writing Anthology