Monday, November 10, 2014

Personality and the Writer

We are so happy to have Linda Gilden as our guest today. Leave a comment below, and you will automatically be entered into a drawing for her newest book, with coauthor Edna Ellison, Called to Write. 

By Linda Gilden

Recently, a friend called. “How do you do this?” she demanded.

“Do what?” I asked.

“How do you sit there all day and write? Don’t you get bored? Are you tired of being by yourself?”

I gave her a quick explanation of why my purposeful/melancholy personality was so well suited for writing. I also explained why as a playful/sanguine personality, she didn’t like being confined in a chair for long periods of time—alone. Once she understood why she needed multiple breaks and lunches out with her friends, she was less hard on herself to fit the writer mold.

 It may seem strange to even consider what personality you are if you are a writer. After all, you sit in front of your computer and type just like all the other writers in the world, right?

Well, yes and no. No matter what God has called you to do, it is affected in part by the personality He has given you.

For instance, the playful/sanguine writer loves the idea of having something in print. However, sitting in the same chair for hours on end with no one around to talk to is extremely difficult for this fun-loving, social personality. It almost seems a waste to keep all his or her enthusiasm still in a chair while waiting for a brilliant idea to come along. But playful/sanguine writers usually don’t lack for ideas. They just lack the discipline to carry through with those ideas. Sometimes they find it hard to stay on task and not put off the work part of writing. Their genuine love of people makes them love the research interviews, but they find it hard to focus on transcribing that interview into a wonderful story or book. But once the playful/sanguine writer gets started, his or her writing is colorful, descriptive, and fast-moving.

The powerful/choleric writer is strong-willed and decisive and once the decision is made to write an article or book, he or she is full speed ahead to check the task off his or her list. The powerful/choleric writer is not easily discouraged, but goal-oriented and will get the job done. When doing research interviews, the powerful/choleric writer arrives prepared with a list of questions and when they have the answers, the interview is done. The powerful/choleric’s writing is logical and easy to follow.

The purposeful/melancholy writer is creative and a deep thinker, always wanting to learn more about his or her subject. Being schedule-oriented, the purposeful/melancholy writer likes to finish every project he or she starts. While doing research interviews, the purposeful/melancholy writer wants to know more about his or her subject, sometimes requiring much more time than allotted. Often the purposeful/melancholy writers finds his or her perfectionism to be a hindrance. It’s hard to push the send button unless the work is absolutely perfect, and the mindset is that if the writer can just go over it one more time, that will eliminate more mistakes. The writing of the purposeful/melancholy writer is often deep and full of details and he or she will cover the subject thoroughly.

The peaceful/phlegmatic writer is a steady and competent writer. He or she works well under pressure, wanting to finish the tasks assigned. Because of his or her peaceful and laid-back style, this writer sometimes looks for the easy way to complete a task (and often finds it).  The writing of a peaceful/phlegmatic writer is sensitive and heartfelt. When conducting a research interview, he or she wants to get it done so he or she can finish the project. Peaceful/phlegmatic writers also love to be around people but sometimes prefer just to finish the article so nap time will come more quickly.

Do you see yourself in one of these personalities? Are there times when you need to take a step back from your writing habits and allow your personality strengths to make you a better writer?

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Linda Gilden is an author, speaker, editor, and writing coach. Author of over a thousand articles, the Love Notes series, Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, Personality Perspectives, and the recently released Called to Write, Linda has ghostwritten or contributed to over thirty books. She directs the CLASS Christian Writers Conference and the Carolina Christian Writers Conference, encouraging others to clearly communicate God’s love to the world. Linda lives in SC with her family—three grown children and their spouses, and five, soon-to-be-six, grandchildren—a great source of speaking and writing material! ~


  1. Interesting article. Now I know why I sometimes struggle to get started - I am a sanguine writer!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, Diane! Maureen, I'm glad this helped. Just give yourself permission to be you and follow the path God has for you. Maybe your reward for writing a certain number of words each week could be lunch out with a few friends!

  3. Linda, I enjoyed reading your article. I love being around people, so it's hard for me not to plan too many hang outs or to stay off of Facebook so I can write! I'm excited about your new book.

    1. Thanks, Katy, so glad to hear from you! Hope your writing is going well. Keep writing!

    2. Thank you, Linda! It's not always easy to manage different projects, but I'm trying. There's a peace and fulfillment that comes with writing. Have to write. :) Thanks for your post.

  4. Not so sure I want to be the type I am, but yes. Very helpful!

  5. Loved this! I think I'm a mix of a couple of them. Great article. Definitely sharing abroad social media! Thank you! :-)

  6. Linda, thank you for an excellent post! I learned so much from CLASS and continue to apply the personality principles I learned today. This post was a great reminder that I need to consider the personalities of those other writers (and others in our field) I work with as an editor, or simply as a critique partner.
    Congrats on your new book!

  7. Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment for Linda. The winner of her book will be announced next Monday when Linda gives us more great info about Personality and the Reader.

  8. J.S. Embrace who you are. There is so much freedom there.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all.


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