1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there such a thing as a Writer personality

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Oct 31, 2015.

    Lately I've been struggling immensely with pretty much everything about writing, questioning whether this is really something I should do. I do get these kind of existential crises from time to time, but this time it just seems worse than usual.

    And I came to wonder if it's just that I don't have the prerequisites to write the kind of stories I want to write.
    Besides from a good story, are there certain characteristics you need to be a good writer? Or a certain intelligence/sensitivity for some aspects of life?

    How much does life experience really count and even more, what you've learned from it? I'm not that young anymore but I haven't had a very eventful or dramatic life so far (which I'm thankful of). Are there things about writing that can't be learned in any way, and instead depends only on personality?
     
  2. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    There may be a writers personality, and if there is, you have it. You are here, you are writing, asking questions, listening to your creativity. I don't think intelligence comes in to it either. I think we strive to be the best we can be, and so find writing our own stories a challenge. No one writes below standard on purpose, same as I would never dream of writing a period drama or a book on how the world began (somethings are just beyond us). You know your limits, but I believe you chose to write your story because you have a passion for it, and you feel it is a story that needs to be told.

    You need to take a step back and look at the cause of your doubt.
     
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  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you, that was really helpful. :) I really have to stop questioning my passion for writing and just write, but instead I'm always filled with doubts. In myself, in my stories, if anyone will find them worth reading, if I have any future writing what I want to write, etc etc, and the worst part is all these doubts makes what I'm writing kind of flat, because I'm not throwing myself into it, since I'm always worrying about these things instead of just enjoying the process. I think I was a lot more passionate about writing with my first two manuscripts before I became aware of these things.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a strong sense of empathy is important - the ability to put yourself into someone else's shoes and see things through their eyes, even if you yourself don't see things that way.

    I think a certain level of introversion is likely valuable - writing is a fairly solitary task for most of us, and if you find it exhausting to be alone, you'll probably struggle.

    And there's the good 'ol imagination factor. It's probably tied in to empathy, at least some of the time, but it's also useful, I would think, for trying to figure out how plots can be constructed.

    For a lot of writers, thick skin is important, for sure.

    And an overall sense of optimism? Spending as long as we do working on projects that may never be read by more than a few people? That's a pretty big leap of faith, and it's hard to make it if you don't believe you've got a reasonable chance of success.

    Other than that? I don't know. The writers I know are a pretty diverse group, really, so I wouldn't say there's a set personality at play, no.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good points! Those are all things that must be important, I guess. Thanks for replying.
     
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  6. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would tend to think there is a writer's personality. When you read the posts on this forum it becomes fairly obvious that many of the members that appeared to be highly skilled are also very good students of English. Just as a (good) mathematician must be good at math a good writer must have a command of the English language that surpasses most of the general public. I thought there would be computer programs to overcome the simple linguistic skills and as a wanna-be author I would only have to have a good story - it would write itself. But alas that is not true at any level, the story is no better than the words and the words have to come from the heart, no computer program provides that heart capability.

    I love this forum but it has made me realize I am no great author. That's okay, I can still write for myself.
     
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  7. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    @Tesoro - Writing from experience is very important to providing the experience, but not the plot.

    Much like concept art, an emotional and life experience library is more important then the skills, you can always get better at the technical craft - but there is no substitute for experience. If your experiences are limited, then it becomes difficult. People without this experience will settle into vague constructs, like symbols, to express their ideas. Even if the idea is well-formulated, the voice it comes from may be unnatural. I refer to this as "string puppetry" or "paper dolls" because it is little more then a disembodied voice that have been given a mannequin to act through. It is still lifeless inside it.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't agree with this. There are lots of writers with limited life experience who create vivid, wonderful stories. They use their imaginations to expand on the experiences they HAVE had. Lived experience is useful, sure, but it's a long way from necessary.
     
  9. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    @BayView - A writer who has "been there" will do a far better job explaining that particular situation in a character than someone who is imagining or recalling situations learned from others. Lots of media exists and people are able to utilize that, but you can never go as deep as having been personally there. I did not intend to dismiss the ability of someone to write based on a lack of life experience - just warn about stock constructs, symbols and ideas.

    @Tesoro - My first existential crisis came at age 6... if your experiences are anything like mine, then you know how strong such emotions can be. It might be a type of psychological horror... but few writers ever explore that side. It is really painful though. Writing what you know is not always the "right solution".
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've had that feeling myself lately. Wondering whether I'm a god enough writer to write for others than myself. If I'm not, I think I'll still keep writing for myself. Maybe that will even make it less agonizing, knowing that no one will criticize it.
    Your language seems good to me though. And I think actually if you have a good story, language becomes something secondary. It's all about knowing how to communicate with the readers, making them feel and react the way you want them to, I guess. And you don't need an extraordinary language for that. Sometimes simplicity is just as good. :)
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get your point. And 'm sure experience makes a difference if two people are writing about the same thing, but imagination and research can take you pretty far too, I think. At least I hope so, because if should limit myself to write about what I know, There wouldn't be many stories written. ;) Actually, Only one of my stories were based on experience.

    I agree with you, I've read books about things that I'm pretty sure the author had no experience from, and yet, they were a wonderful read. If you take thrillers and detective novels for example, I'm pretty sure not many of these writers aren't police officers in real life. Not to mention al the fantasy authors. :)
     
  12. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    My two cents...

    Meh. I've never met any real vampires, but here I am writing about them. I don't have experience being killed, shot, beaten (to the extent the character has; everyone gets beat up in school once I think), any exposure to slavery, nor do I have any experience being a functional adult, yet here I am writing that shit. I like to think I write it convincingly, too.

    Are there some things you simply can't know without having experienced it for yourself? Oh definitely.

    However, there is a great saying I like about today's world:

    In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.

    Do your research. Do your homework. Find out what that thing is like. Put on your Googlepants and go exploring.

    You'll never know the answer if you don't ask.

    I agree with @BayView 100% on these points.

    Empathy will put you in your characters' heads, and the stronger sense you have of it, the better. You'll be able to write from their point of view, rather than just trying to describe what happened to some other person you don't care about.

    Introversion I think is essential. It lets you explore ideas without a deadline, because you're always there, in your head, watching them unfold naturally. Many writers may be gregarious, but I personally don't function that way. Too much noise around me and I can't hear my characters talking. To each their own, but I think introversion is a fantastic asset.

    Imagination -- Well, duh. o_O Can fiction be written without it? (Snarky jabs at bad books aside. :whistle: *cough* 50 *cough*)

    Thick skin -- Oh god yes. If you're going to write anything convincing, you must have a mind open enough to learn things you might not want to know: your research might take you to a place that challenges your own personal values, for the sake of that character or plot. And we all know what it's like to get a particularly harsh review.

    Ultimately, though,

    You do you. If writing makes you happy, write. Who cares what anyone says? :write:
     
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  13. Doctore
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    Doctore Member

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    I don't know about writer's personality, and if that happens to be true, then I have to say that you are all in for a goofy time. Because I am a goof, and if you don't know that already, well you will soon if this is the case. I will say that I have noticed that authors (meaning to or not) put themselves into their writing, and they reveal to us just a bit about themselves when that happens. Whether fantasy or not, in the past people have been led to wonder certain things about authors depending on their writing. Let's hope that wonder good and interesting things about us.
     
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  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm not big on 'a writer should have experienced a lot' - I've read a lot of crappy bios where the author doesn't know how to translate their feelings or experiences into words. It's not the experience it's about the translation. By the time you're 18 you should have an abundance of experiences/feelings enough to make for a great story - romance, lust, love, hate, anger, jealousy etc. Even if a person has never been per say in love - if they've loved a pet, a friend, a doll anything they should be able to tap into those emotions and rework them as needed. But part of being a writer is knowing your limits & your strengths.

    I think as a writer you must be okay with being solitary, a bit of an introvert, slightly organized, into words, a reader, an observer and a person with a good imagination that can empathize well with others. But writer's are such a varied lot who knows.
     
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  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well said. I agree with you, and also thinks Empathy and curiosity might be two of the best characteristics a writer can have, AND the others that BayView mentioned. :) Thanks for your two cents. :) Much appreciated.
    Yes, I will probably keep writing no matter what. Maybe the question is if should keep pursuing publishing or not.
     
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  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, Being ok with a certain solitude and a little introvert seems more and more to be good qualities :) (Look, how nice to be able to turn it into something positive :) ) To like spending a lot of time with imaginary people :)
    And imagination, of course.
     
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  17. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    You know, I think about this a lot too, but I over think everything.

    Anyway, it's quite simple - you simply must love to write. Doesn't matter what, you just must be in love with the process of writing. Just like a baker loves to bake or a painter loves to paint, a writer must love to write. We put too much emphasis on the end result that we fail to pay attention to whether or not we love the process because the process is the writing, the story is the result. The baked cake, the finished painting, those are the results. Making them is the process.

    Sure, I fall in love with the romance of being a widely read, highly praised, prize winning writer but I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen. So I write what I want when I feel like it and don't worry about The End. What I love is sewing - the process, the details, the end result. Doesn't make me a seamstress or the next Alexander McQueen, just makes me someone who loves to sew things and those people who get my makes truly appreciate them. There are times, days, weeks even, when I don't even want to look at fabric, but when I'm back in the groove and feel that cotton, ooooooo baby, I'm there.

    So maybe you need to ask yourself what do you love?
     
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  18. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Tell me what.. why does pretty much everyone define themselves only over publishing? I understand that it must be a very rewarding feeling when you get proof that people find enjoyment in your work. It must be the ultimate validation of every second spent wrestling with your writers block ;)

    Yet, for me a writer is someone who simply writes because he must. There is nothing existential in there. If you write without goal, just because the words are spilling out sometimes, then you are a writer.
    Sure there are qualities that make some writers better than others (in terms of others reading their creation) and BayView has summarized them pretty well for me.
     
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  19. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Hmph, well.. I do not have the ability or standing to convince anyone of my opinion's validity so I will concede. Just make sure that you at least know what you are writing about.
     
  20. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are completely right! That IS the most important thing. I guess I just needed a reminder of that. :) So thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. :)

    You are right too. I think that is part of the problem. It has grown to be more about the end result than the process itself. And that is probably wrong. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being driven by being published, there are lots of writers who do it to make a living, but that is not the way I started. I started writing as a kid because I just loved it, felt a need to write down what I thought about, my fantasies and dreams and worries. I do think that it's quite easy to forget WHY we write after a few published books. When there are people around you who say they want to read something more from you it's so easy to get carried away.
    So thanks for the reminder, it was much needed :)
     
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