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 are stirring up our inspirations and arousing our love of creating story.

Orwell’s demons

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

Although any sensible writer would be happy to leave Orwell’s demons unexplored, my writing demons compel me to probe, anytime I get told that I cannot understand,

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.

Love for writing

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 we show in our 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 brcause it is where my curiosity has achieved a better understanding of the topic.

No writing personality is perfect, but great writers can’t be categorised with a single personality trait. 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.

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. Like a sourdough starter, it will make 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 as unaffected and engaging as we would be talking with our friends at a cafe. When we put our promise to our readers out there, it is called our brand. The brand develops trust and empathy for us.

For a more extensive treatment of this topic, see: How To Self-market Our Awesome Books From A Ideas Pundit, or Plan To Publish And Get Our Books Out There.

Personality types for Writers

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

Create something that is beautifully crafted.
Create something that is beautifully crafted.

Seven writing personality traits are linked to our writing inspirations. All writers have a combination of these personality traits.

Awareness of our personality and how it inspires us is explored. In this article, this awareness builds our understanding of our promise to our readers. 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 “Setting-out to write our Masterpiece?.

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)

Linking writing inspirations to personality traits

Based on these categories, I have extrapolated seven writing personality types or demons. They have not been tested. We should accord these personality traits developed here the scientific credibility we’d afford magazine quizzes. Exploring these suggested inspirations should be thought of as intriguing and retrospective, not definitive and commanding.

Writing inspirationsOCEAN personality trait
1. Creating worldsOpenness-active imagination
2. Plot-drivenConscientious
3. Character developmentOpenness-attentiveness to inner feelings
4. Love of wordsOpenness-aesthetic sensitivity
5. Curiosity with ideas.Openness-intellectual curiosity
6. Charisma and political writingOpenness-preference for variety
7. Persistence and egotismEmotional resilient (nuerotisim)
Linking writing inspirations to personality traits

Personality traits we can nurture

Emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness are three of the five OCEAN personality traits. They can improve as we age. These adaptations unfold across years or decades rather than days or weeks, leading to social maturity. Openness is the trait that is most dependent on genetics and, therefore, is the most stable.

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.

We can heighten or repress personality traits, such as agreeability, emotional resilience and extraversion. Personality states 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.

Writing both influences and is influenced by these short-term and long-term personality changes.

1. Creating worlds

Creating worlds is associated with our ability to develop a sense of place in fiction. With a created world, our readers have something to leap into. As if entering a portal, this enables them to immerse themselves in the world of our story.

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.

Writers with high levels of the active imagination component (fantasy) of the openness trait are unconventional in their outlook and behaviour. They prefer new experiences and generally have a more comprehensive range of interests.

Where active imagination seeks to perceive what is already present, fantasy intends to create where nothing yet exists.

Stimulating new worlds

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. They are places that live within us, which help to define our existence.

Creating worlds
Creating worlds

Images of fantasised worlds can be created from the unconscious, using emotions attached to our observed world or fantasy. They can also be generated from our dreams, songs, dance, poetry, and the visual arts. These imaginary worlds can be thought of as the realm of angels, as described in many religions. In a secular sense, it manifests itself not only through images but also in writing and destiny.

Imagined or fantasised worlds can be part of our promise to our readers. A well-imagined world allows the reader to actually visit and live there for a time, not simply think about it. A love of authors such asEric Newby, Steven King, J.K. Rowling or Tim Winton may mean this side of our writing personality is healthy.

2. Plot our dreams

Writers who excel in developing plots are referred to as plot-driven (or plotters). Delving into our childhood dreams can be a fertile place to find a plot, as it is with creating worlds. These dreams can bring our story’s hopes and fantasies to life 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 the conscientiousness trait to do this.

Our conscientiousness personalities aim for achievement. It prefers to plan and not be spontaneous; It is associated with creativity through the industriousness and achievement sub-factors. At the same time, order, dutifulness, and deliberation sub-factors 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

Writers who love to bring their characters to life have an attentiveness to inner feelings, which is part of the openness trait. Indicators for this include: being interested in people and feelings and depicting characters and their emotions with care.

If you like Jane Harper, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy or Kazuo Ishiguro you must have a strand or two of the attentiveness to inner feelings trait. Character-driven fiction could be part of your promise to your readers.

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

Sensory processing sensitivity is characterised by a tendency to analyse novel situations, greater sensitivity to subtle stimuli, and deeper cognitive processing strategies. In real life, this can cause unhappiness because most people don’t like to be scrutinised. In combination with an unhealthy self-esteem, it 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 and get a fix on their positive and negative emotional responses.

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 inspire 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.

The openness trait’s “aesthetic sensitivity” is a personality domain that explains individual differences in creating, seeking, and appreciating art. Aesthetic sensitivity is associated with artistic creativity, implicit learning ability, general knowledge, and reasoning based on acquired information. 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 Jamessaid: “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. We use words to make sense of reality. We desire to see things as they are and elucidate their meaning. These ideas can see past stereotypes and convey an insightful knowledge of human existence in all of its incredible variety.

These ideas could be conceptual or abstractions, social or political, hypothesis or plan, chaos or thesis, material or metaphysical.

The intellectual curiosity sub-factor of the openness trait is related to experimenting with new experiences and changing opinion in the face of contrary evidence and reasoning.

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”.

The openness trait’s sub-trait, preference for variety, is part of our Charismatic awareness. Writing stories with passion and pace, arousing emotions with our words, is related to charisma. 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, 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 what makes this difference is not well understood.

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.

7. Persistence, egoism and emotional resilience

Emotional resilience is referred to in a negative sense as the neuroticism trait. To write, we need to be selfish and not live for others, as writing for others may end up smothering the writer under drudgery.

Yes,, but enough about you. Let’s talk about me.

We all desire to be clever, popular, and famous, even though we may, in fact, be vain, selfish, and lazy. We should just admit all this to ourselves and get on with writing.

Masterful writing does not have to have worthy motivations. Evelyn Waugh wrote  “Brideshead Revisited”, for example, because he was jealous of his father’s favouritism towards his brother.

It should be an unnecessary warning to say we’d have to be famous before sharing such dark promises to our readers. Still, most new writers think they are the next big thing, while in almost all cases, they are wrong. However, while we are new writers, we may need to use a heightened state of our agreeableness trait to hide this ugly side of our ego.

If we venerate this demon too much, we will act like a star before we have the star status of writers like Ernest Hemingway or John Updike. Only after achieving a reputation like theirs can we get away with a bit of preening.

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