What kind of a writer are you?
Have you ever wondered why it takes you a long time to write a single blog post whereas you can fill pages and pages in your journal in no time? Or why is it that you can’t get around to finish your novel which you were so passionate about when you started and now that you have all the time in the world but you keep procrastinating.
As beginner writers, we start so many projects and never get around to finish them. Many times we quickly lose interest in ideas that excited us so much when we first conceived them. We waste countless hours over many years wondering why doesn’t our desire to write translate into a career.
Well, you might think it is because you don’t have time to write or you’re not a good writer or writing doesn’t pay well hence there is no reason to pursue a career in it.
But that is not the reason writing is not working for you.
You will be surprised to know that the answer lies in figuring out what kind of writer you are.
My writing idol, Shaunta Grimes, came with an interesting theory in an article on Medium (an online magazine). She claimed that every writer falls into one of five archetypes. Knowing your archetype will help you determine what kind of writing you should be doing in order to excel at it. According to her, understanding your archetype makes you a better writer and more importantly a happier writer.
I must admit, at the beginning of her article, I was skeptical. I didn’t think I would fall into any one category because my writing is all over the place. I write fiction, non-fiction, diary, journals, blogs, articles. There was no way I could fit into any of those archetypes. But as I continued reading I not only began to agree with her but was surprised to find that I belong to the same archetype as my her.
Not only that, all this time, I wasn’t even aware of my own strength and interest as a writer.
So what are these five archetypes?
This is how Shaunta Grimes describes them:
The Hesitater is one that has trouble getting started. They want badly to be writers and they think about it a lot, but for whatever reason, they can’t seem to get the momentum going to actually pull the trigger and start writing with any real consistency. Facebook Groups for writers and MFA programs are full of Hesitaters.
The Skipper are those who skip all over the place — they write about one topic today and another one tomorrow. Their happy place is having an assignment. Skippers are often journalists, freelancers, ghostwriters, or copywriters — working for a paycheck or with a contract and always knowing that they’ll be paid for their work.
The Spiller put a strong emphasis on being confessional. When they write, they spill their guts on the page. Often their purpose is healing and they want to let readers know they aren’t alone in the world. There is someone else out there feeling what they feel or who has experienced what they are experiencing — and that matters to them, a lot.
The Teacher writes with a strong emphasis on teaching. They want readers to come away having learned something. As a result, they have trouble writing about things that they’re not either an expert or strongly invested in learning. The Teacher needs an audience who expects to hear from them on a regular basis. On many levels, it’s the connection that feeds them. Because if their goal is to teach, they want to know they’re reaching other people and they’re learning from them.
The Artist’s main focus is the craft of writing. If the Spiller writes mostly for themselves and the Teacher writes mostly for their audience, the Artist writes mostly for their muse. This writer crafts their work and presents it to the world, much in the same way that a fine artist might hang paintings in a gallery. They tend to be focused on their readers individually. They want to entertain and delight. Lyrical, literary, poetic prose is this writer’s happy place.Every writer falls into one of five archetypes by Shaunta Grimes.
It turns out I am a Teacher writer. Whatever I write, I write with the intent to explain. My utmost passion is to teach others what I have learned. My diaries and journals are full of things I tried and implemented in my life, whether they are personal development, meditative and spiritual practices, writing or sketching skills.
Shuanta Grimes is also a Teacher writer. She writes from her personal experiences and she writes to teach. And she is full of ideas.
Like her, I am also getting bombarded by ideas — my own ideas as well as other people’s ideas. So many ideas that it is hard to keep track of them. That is why I believe blogging is a great platform for Teacher writers like me because we are so excited to share what we’ve learned. It enables us to write fast and publish prolifically.
Teachers are the writers who seek to build a community. We have our readers at the top of our mind when we write. Without readers, we feel that there is no purpose for our work. Teachers need students, after all.
Even when a Teacher writes fiction, their desire to reach out to the reader and share their ideas is apparent. They can’t help teaching what they’ve learned. Children’s book writers are often Teachers. Shuanta Grimes writes fiction for children. It is understandable to teach children through fiction. But I write fiction for adults, and even in my writing, I am teaching through my characters. There are several other teacher writers writing for adults. Diana Gabaldon, Helen Garner … are to name a few.
Now the funny thing with these archetypes is that you jump from one category to another at different times. I was a Hesitater for a long time, then for a period, I was a Skipper, and now along with being a Teacher, I am also a bit of Spiller. A lot of my writing is confessional. Over time I have learned that writing is great therapy and I am not afraid to spill my guts out in order to heal and in order to teach. Writing has made me fearless to an extent.
Now the question is what kind of writer you are?
It might be possible you are an Artist writer, with a strong focus on the language. My friend Moria falls into this category. She writes beautiful well-crafted sentences. Another of my writing buddy, Fiona, describes nature as Shirley Bassey sings Diamonds Are Forever, boldly and beautifully. I, on the other hand, do not possess that kind of command on the language. But I do not let that stop me from telling stories I want to tell.
You might be a Hesitater or a Skipper, in that case, you know where you stand what you need to do to get to where you want to go. As Shuanta says both Hesitater or a Skipper is the interim phase before you move on to be a Spiller, Teacher or an Artist. Once you know your archetype you will know what to write and how to establish your writing career.
Read her full article to learn more.