Back in the days when workplace personality tests were the go, my work arranged for a woman to test our profiles. The test, and results, were similar to the Meyer Briggs, in that they pigeonholed you into a personality type, but this woman had her own variation on them. It was all about colours and keywords. We had to pick words that best described us. It was an eclectic list of seemingly unrelated words such as artist, musician, steady, impulsive, cheerful, angry. Then we had to chose the one word out of the list we had picked that we felt described us best. This word, along with some other tests, defined what type of people we were.
After this, we separated into the various groups to work together. I ended up in the intiuitive, big-picture (yellow) group. For most of us in this group, it was a good fit. Except for one man, who was a methodical, detail person, always concerned with the intricate minutiae of his work. He was very good at his job, but he was definitely not a big-picture type person.
Why did he end up in this group? Because he defined himself first and foremost as a musician.
We compared other words we had chosen with those he had chosen. Not a single other word matched.
The word ‘writer’ was not on the list, but had it been I would have defined myself as a writer, above everything else.
I read a blog post over at Dear Author recently. The post was called “Should Authors Shut Up and Write“ —interesting enough in itself, but one of the comments in reply to the post reminded me of that personality test.
“I think there’s a substantive difference between someone who sees themselves as writing books and someone who thinks of themselves as a writer. The first is something you do, but the second is something you are … Anyone … can author something … but when someone thinks of themselves as a writer, when writing is literally part of their sense of personal identity, I think the work is informed from somewhere deeper, somewhere more personal and personally authentic. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that any writer is a *good* writer, but I think it does communicate a certain passion that comes from the place where one feels *compelled* to write.”
I think it’s true. If you define yourself as a writer, or as a musician, first and foremost, your writing (or music) does come from a different place.