This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Writing Terms

What kind of writer are you? Do you know? Over the years, taking note of specific tendencies in writers has become increasingly fascinating to me.

I’ve come up with 8 distinct Core Writer Types in the hopes that doing this will help writers discover their natural strengths and weaknesses.

What I’ve found is that the only commonality amongst all types of writers is the strong desire or compulsion to write – which is crazy, because this means that not even the amount of time you spend writing definitively points to what kind of writer you are. It just narrows the possibilities.

What Type of Writer Are You?

The question, or possibility of being able to determine a person’s natural writing ability became really intriguing to me, and this lead to the idea of developing a personality test for writers.

I love personality tests because they’re fun, but could this actually be a useful way of helping writers figure out where their writing strengths and weaknesses are? Could this be something that I as a teacher could use in a practical way in my classes?

A Peculiar Trend: What I’ve found so far is that while there are certain Core Writer Types clearly “meant to be a writer,” this isn’t the definer for success. Any type of writer can become successful if they manage to discover their writing strengths and weaknesses.

So the task in developing the test is two-fold:

  • Pin-down what the writer’s weaknesses are and (more importantly) why.
  • Get a better understanding of the writer’s greatest strengths, so that they can intentionally use that to the fullest advantage.

For example, if a writer isn’t particularly good in writing dialogue, it can be for any number of reasons. Those individual reasons have a tendency to one of 8 possible writer types. Knowing the reasons can help a person figure-out what they need to do to overcome their personal hurdles.

We all have hurdles. And we all have particular techniques to overcome them. Not everyone jumps over. Some walk around. Some move the hurdle. Some destroy the hurdle. Some turn and walk the other way.

NOTE: We’re currently programming an automated survey, but before we start calculating the weight for each response, I want to first test the core list.

I’ve determined eight distinct Core Writer Types. To develop this and test my theory more fully, I need you!

How you can help:

You can do this in 4 easy steps.

1. Take a look at the types of writers there are (all 8 are listed further down this page), and

2. choose the one that you think fits you the best, then

3. post your choice so that I know the result. You can do that in 2 possible ways:

–post to our new Facebook Group (a great place to meet creative people online)

–post a comment at the bottom of this page

4. In your post, please answer for me these three questions so that we have some direction:

–Do you see yourself in any of these writer types? Which one?

–What is the most difficult thing you face as a writer of this type?

–Is there a writer type you think missing from the list of options? What is it?

Any further explanation you want to share would be welcome. If it’s especially detailed, please send that to me in an email with Subject: Core Writer Feedback.

All successful writers started their writing career at a certain point, having certain strengths and weaknesses, aspects of writing that were more challenging for them. Yet we know these writers (despite their weaknesses) because they learned to overcome these and let their strengths guide their efforts.

Here they are: listed in alphabetical order, with brief explanations, questions to help you define your strengths and real writer examples.

Do you see yourself in one of these Core Writer Types?

Choose from: Closet Writer, Eternal Writer, Hesitant Writer, Innovative Writer, Inspired Writer, Literate Writer, Logical Writer, Savvy Writer. All of these types are really exciting to me and I see a bit of myself in all of them.

Do your best to pick just one (with maybe one secondary choice).

1. Closet Writer

J.K. Rowling
Beatrix Potter

J.K. RowlingYou’ve probably been writing your entire life, but are reluctant to share any of it with others. For a long time, your writing was really just meant for you to read and no one else. You are a person who has the deep desire to write something grand, but has to work extra hard to get it done, every step of the way.

Other things in your life tend to get in the way of you seeing a writing project through to the end, and once it’s been sitting alone without your attention for a while, it grows and expands – in your mind – into a Herculean Task.

Because you have a lot of experience writing for yourself, the transition of writing for a larger crowd can seem daunting to you. Don’t give up. Tenacity and persistence are what will bring you literary success. You know in your bones you were meant to be a writer, so allow yourself to finally become that, completely. When you do, you will flourish.

Keep attentive to your writing on a daily basis so that your current project does not expand into something you can no longer manage.

Does this describe you? You might be a Closet Writer if you:

  1. Like to write but don’t really consider yourself a writer, per se (even if your stories are on the market).
  2. Like editing your work more than writing the first draft.
  3. Feel you don’t have a natural tack for any specific writing task (character, plot, dialogue, etc.).
  4. Need a lack of distraction to write. Your own space is key.
  5. Like to share what you write, but are ever reluctant to do so, still.

2. Eternal Writer

Agatha Christie
Laurie R. King

Agatha ChristieYou are a writer who has a solid, overall grasp of what it takes to be a successful writer. Your knowledge of the craft of writing could fill books. The problem is actually doing it instead of thinking about it and planning for it, which is the downside of being a generally well-organized, well read person.

The Eternal Writer tends to be extremely intelligent and is in fact capable of doing anything they set their mind to do. The danger is in giving up when you find yourself running into a wall, some kind of difficulty that couldn’t have been anticipated. You know deep down you enjoy a good challenge though, so just keep going.

Eternal Writers can sometimes take criticism of their work too personally, but you’re working on overcoming that, conscientiously. Don’t give up. It would be a shame if you did – and you know that. You’re naturally talented and with hard work you can really achieve what you’ve set out to do as a writer.

Does this describe you? You might be an Eternal Writer if:

  1. You feel strongly that a balance of character and plot is necessary to writing a compelling story.
  2. You’re very well read and have a broad spectrum of interests.
  3. Get ideas from everything around you – no specific times of day and no specific days required. Any mood.
  4. You have a solid understanding of your market, but don’t consider yourself a numbers cruncher.
  5. Any challenge faced in writing techniques are fun for you.

3. Hesitant Writer

Stephen King

Stephen KingThe Hesitant Writer tends to learn by doing. You are a rather well organized person (at least in thought, if not in actual desk drawers), and this is the key factor that enables you to write. But certain things about the craft of writing come with a great deal of difficulty and this tends to hamper your ability to fulfill deadlines – or to even set deadlines for yourself.

Your tendency to want to “test the waters first” and generally play it safe is perhaps holding you back, a common issue for the Hesitant Writer. The best way for you to shed those fears and doubts broiling inside you is to learn a painstakingly awesome filing system for your writing projects, and once you know what you want to write right NOW, set-up a writing calendar.

If you can apply the type of thinking and natural knowledge you have to your love of story, you will have this in your pocket.

The hesitant writer tends to be very humble, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it sometimes pulls you back from really pursuing your dreams. Remain serious about training your craft, and as ever – use your writing to push you to the next level. Every story you write will help you do that.

Does this describe you? You might be a Hesitant Writer if:

  1. You feel you need permission to pursue a career in creative writing.
  2. Aren’t comfortable creating Other Worlds for your characters.
  3. Grammar is like a fun puzzle for you, not difficult.
  4. Feel you write best when calm and relaxed.
  5. Your greatest difficulty is in writing the first draft. Not ideas. Those are aplenty.

4. Innovative Writer

George R. R. Martin
Mo Willems

George R.R. MartinYou love to write, it’s a great passion for you. But you tend to have dry spells, more often than you’d like to admit. And yet, when the Muse returns, watch out. You live for the written word and everyone in your life knows they should just stay out of your way when you’re at your workspace.

Though quite productive, you are never fully pleased with your level of productivity, knowing you could do more. You want to do more and you probably have more ideas in your head than you’ll ever be able to get down on paper.

You are a very creatively minded person, an attribute not all writers have. The Innovative Writer’s ability to easily keep their thoughts organized enables them to be highly detailed in their stories. This is part of your love for writing. Be aware of your weaknesses as a writer and try to do better at pacing your work more steadily towards a deadline.

Does this describe you? You might be an Innovative Writer if you:

  1. Have spurts of writing frenzies and then spans of time where you need to absorb.
  2. Are never satisfied with your level of productivity.
  3. Creating new places and characters is your jam.
  4. Editing your own work is painful to you.
  5. Feel strongly that character is more important than plot.

5. Inspired Writer

Neil Gaiman
Douglas Adams

Douglas AdamsYou are a writer who has a natural tack for a good story but lacks any natural sense of order or logical thinking. It’s something you have worked towards or are struggling to figure out. Many Inspired Writers have a more visual way with thinking, so their stories tend to be very visually driven; some even become artists (or are both, equally).

What is a certainty is your tendency towards creative chaos and an almost willful inability to meet deadlines. While your creative spirit does need to remain free in order to express itself fully, you also need to recognize that there is a need for some order, sometimes.

Maybe that order needs to happen at your desk. If you can’t do that, leave your messes behind. Go someplace where you can be as anonymous as you want to be, and let yourself openly write the way you need to do it.

Does this describe you? You might be an Inspired Writer if you:

  1. Are a fan of brilliant book design.
  2. Generally describe yourself as a Night Owl, and that’s when you write your best.
  3. Write what you’re personally moved to write about. You write for you.
  4. Need spell-check to survive.
  5. Are able to use your emotions to generate ideas.

6. Literate Writer

Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss)
Peter Mayle

Dr. SeussYou are an avid reader who has decided at some point in your life to finally craft your own books. Because of your vast knowledge of books, you have a strong understanding of what it takes to write a good one as well as the pitfalls a writer should avoid. This stuff is so much a part of you, it’s practically running through your veins.

As a goal oriented type of soul, the literate writer is sometimes overwhelmed in story details and keeping things straight. Don’t let this throw you and find out how to keep better notes on all your ideas.

Keep in mind all the great writers you know and love. You’ve studied them and now it’s your turn. Work it out. Don’t be afraid to speak up in the next writing seminar or class you take. It’s exactly what you need to round-out your knowledge and experience of the writing craft.

Does this describe you? You might be a Literate Writer if you:

  1. Devour books. Can’t get enough.
  2. Your love and dedication to someone was the thing that pushed you into writing.
  3. Have a steady writing pace, but perhaps could still be more focused.
  4. Establishing the story set-up is your greatest challenge.
  5. Are a shy extrovert – you’re basically social, but find social situations draining. It isn’t your natural state.

7. Logical Writer

Jack Canfield
John Gray

Jack CanfieldYou are a writer with a technical writing background, or experience with non-fiction writing. Very goal-oriented and methodical, your strengths lie primarily in writing structure and organization. Creating new characters and new worlds isn’t your forte. Instead, you like to tell real stories, or at least stories that feel real to the reader.

What you might look out for: if you do decide to write more fanciful writing, the tendency might be to go overboard, perhaps even illogical. Be aware of that and go forward with your story anyway. You’ll never know if you don’t at least try. You know how to organize your thoughts when writing more straightforward (or at least what you think of as straightforward) material. Don’t think you need to abandon this important ability in order to write something fantastical.

Does this describe you? You might be a Logical Writer if you:

  1. Are a teacher or instructor. Many teachers are Logical Writers.
  2. Feel that while both character and plot are key, plot is what you like to write more.
  3. Write during the times you have scheduled for that. It’s necessary to getting it done.
  4. Writing dialogue is your greatest challenge as a writer.
  5. Strong organizational skills enable you to keep story details straight.

8. Savvy Writer

Chip and Dan Heath

You are a writer with a strong business sense. Maybe you came by that knowledge in a formal education, maybe from birth. You know what you want to achieve and you’re also pretty aware of your limitations as a creator. That’s a good thing, because if you can’t execute a specific task the way you envision it, you know how to find someone who can. You are the taskmaster who can set goals and see them through.

You know you’re not perfect. No one is. But you know what you want to do with your career and you fully intend to achieve that. What you need to be mindful of is not forgetting that those creative people who are unlike you, without your savvy, aren’t stupid. Don’t take their abilities for granted and don’t underestimate them. If they have a criticism, listen.

Does this describe you? You might be a Savvy Writer if you:

  1. Like to read, but are more about action.
  2. Feel strongly about the importance of having a blog and write regularly.
  3. Would never write without first understanding the target demographic.
  4. Mornings are when you’re sharpest and you know there’s no point denying it.
  5. Creating strong characters is your greatest challenge as a writer.

Is a type missing?

So tell me: what kind of writer do you think you are? Write below and let me know, leave a mark on our new Facebook Group – or, as ever, send me an email. I like getting those.

Anyone can become a successful writer. The trick is in not giving up. Find your strengths and use that to overcome your weaknesses.

Keep creating, no matter what.


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This entry is part of the series
Writing Terms
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