Writing routines are for all personality types
What’s this episode about?
Welcome to the final episode of the second season of The Pen Garden podcast. Listen to it in full and/or scan the show notes below for the main takeaways.
The Pen Garden is the place where I share my little nuggets of knowledge about writing and mental health and empower writers to take control of their writing routines. I hope this new season, jam packed with interesting tidbits about how to be a productive writer by knowing your personality, will be useful to you. I can’t wait to hear about your new and improved writing practices.
In this episode, I will talk about the favorite topic of this podcast – routines. This time, I will look at them through the lens of personality research. This means I will delve into which personalities thrive on routines and which struggle – and how to power up your practice so you can include a routine that complements you and doesn’t stress you out.
I will be using the terms set out by 16personalities.com – there is a table below where you can double-check your type if you forget its name or its letter combination, as well the group your personality type falls into. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, before you continue listening to this, go listen to episode 2 from Season 1, where I explain why your personality type is important and how to find yours.
MBTI personality types table
|Architect (INTJ)||Advocate (INFJ)||Logistician (ISTJ)||Virtuoso (ISTP)|
|Logician (INTP)||Mediator (INFP)||Defender (ISFJ)||Adventurer (ISFP)|
|Commander (ENTJ)||Protagonist (ENFJ)||Executive (ESTJ)||Entrepreneur (ESTP)|
|Debater (ENTP)||Campaigner (ENFP)||Consul (ESFJ)||Entertainer (ESFP)|
Routines are important
If you’ve been with me from the beginning of this podcast, you already know that routines are sets of learned behaviors that free up mental space for dealing with the unknown. They are different from habits because they are intentional and as opposed to habits, require a lot of conscious effort to maintain. Some people, maybe even you at some point, have said that not everyone can keep a routine, that some people have a knack for it, while others don’t. And that makes sense, on the surface.
But I argue keeping a productive routine is difficult for everyone, it is just that some personalities have an affinity towards being more easily able to muster that conscious effort consistently and keep their eyes on the prize, whatever that might be.
Psychology teaches us that routines make us happier. The whole view that people need adventure and constant newness is romanticized in mass media, setting out unrealistic standards for most of us. Not everyone needs to set out on an Eat, Pray, Love journey to find themselves, some people would have found their happiness in their well-established routines that leave no room for fear of the unknown, stress of change and damage control after an impulse bad decision. And that’s the thing – we humans form habits with or without us really wanting it, and repeat the habits longs enough, you get yourself into a place where you DO have a set of known responses but they’re so negative and unbeneficial to your life that you don’t even deem to call it what it is – a routine. This all relates as much to your writing practice as to every other part of your life.
Website 16personalities.com wanted to find out to what extent personality type influences people’s feelings about routine. So they asked their readers whether they agree with the statement “You like having a routine you do not deviate from.” It turned out that overall, people seemingly had a neutral opinion: 50% of readers agreed with that statement. What I found more interesting in this was the breakdown of the data by personality type. Some types had an agreement percentage of over 75, while others had as little as 25% which meant that the responses were far from neutral. The four personalities who really love their routines are, ordered from most to less, Logisticians, Defenders, Architects and Advocates. They all share the Introverted trait but thinking introverts are the best at keeping a routine is not a correct deduction – from all Logicians and Mediators, also sharing this trait, only 36% agreed. 16personalities.com concluded that ‘persistence and flexibility are major factors in how comfortable we are with routine. It’s one thing to create a schedule or a process, and another to actually follow it and appreciate the intentions behind such organizational strategies. As creatures of habit, some personalities […] feel right at home in the structure of a routine, while others […] may make a routine of avoiding routine.’
Do it like Tarantino
So what about if you are one of those people who don’t like having a routine you do not deviate from? What if you’re one of those Debaters or Campaigners that prefer spontaneity and improvisation to planning? We all want to be productive on our own terms so you’ll have to spend some time and think about this. What does writing productivity look like to you and what are the best ways to achieve it? Can you spot any behaviors that you’re willing to repeat consistently so you can maintain progression towards your writing goals? Even if you’re one of those personality types that values routines a lot, think about this. Routines should only be hard if you hate what you’re doing. And I know you love writing because you’re listening to this podcast. To drive this message home, I want to share with you the writing habits and routines of two writers who have personality types that are well-known for their aversion to planned living.
Quentin Tarantino is a master of visual storytelling but behind the films, there’s lots of writing to be done. And as a Campaigner personality, he is observant, energetic and enthusiastic when it comes to new ideas and inspiration. He has that spark of mad genius that allows him to create great art – but productivity is not something he scoffs at, he has found his own way of doing things. He doesn’t just have a writing routine, he has a ritual. A ritual is a step further than a routine. Ness Labs explains that ‘rituals are viewed as more meaningful practices which have a real sense of purpose. With rituals, you are fully engaged with a focus on the experience of the task, rather than its mere completion.’
Tarantino doesn’t use a computer or even a typewriter. He writes by hand, in notebooks, methodical about his ritual. Here is what he said about it: “I just write it all by hand. It’s a ceremony. I go to a stationery store and buy a notebook — and I don’t buy like 10. I just buy one and then fill it up. Then I buy a bunch of red felt pens and a bunch of black ones, and I’m like, ‘These are the pens I’m going to write Kill Bill with.’” And to be honest with all of you, I found that super inspiring, though my personality type is very different from Tarantino’s. I’m currently working on a romantic thriller duology and I’m going to get two notebooks and fill them with all the ideas I get for those books. I don’t know if it will stick as it’s something new but I will give it a try and let you know.
Mark Twain and his daily audience
If Tarantino’s quirky personalization wasn’t inspiring enough, listen to how writer Mark Twain spent his days: “He would go to the study in the morning after a hearty breakfast and stay there until dinner at about 5:00. Since he skipped lunch, and since his family would not venture near the study — they would blow a horn if they needed him — he could usually work uninterruptedly for several hours. […] After dinner, Twain would read his day’s work to the assembled family. He liked to have an audience, and his evening performances almost always won their approval. On Sundays, Twain skipped work to relax with his wife and children, read, and daydream in some shady spot on the farm.” Mark Twain had the Debater personality which as a baseline doesn’t do great with routines. But they are original thinkers, energetic when it comes to knowledge and new ideas. They also love to discuss matters so it’s no surprise Mark Twain personalized his routine to include an audience for his genius who would listen to him daily.
sO, TO SUMMARIZE…
Everyone can have a productive, original routine. It is all about thinking through all the things that motivate you as a person and as a writer, finding a space and time to write that don’t interfere with your natural affinities and tailoring the steps of your routine to be rewarding, so you can maintain it consistently. Like it not, you already have some sort of routine around your creative self. You owe it to your best writing self to take charge of that and mold it into something that is useful, sustainable and doesn’t add additional stress to your life.
And that’s it for my deep delve into how personality type can inform the way you approach your creativity. This is the final episode of this season. Listen to the 4 previous episodes for more insight into MBTI and writing. In the next season, which starts in two weeks on Tuesday, on 20th October, I will be looking at inspiration – where it comes from, how to foster and maintain it and how to change your thinking about productivity and allow any down time you have to turn into a potential time for new ideas without any effort. I’m very excited to share all of this with you so I hope you will join me after a short one week break.
If you want to continue the conversation, you can poke me on The Pen Garden Facebook page or tweet me @laineydelaroque. Thanks very much for listening everyone. Hope you have an awesome week and speak to you soon.
- com (website)
- The Psychology Of Daily Routine (website article)
- Creatures of Habit (website article)
- Habits, routines, rituals (website article)
- How to Write Like Quentin Tarantino (website article)
- Daily Rituals: A Guided Tour of Writers’ and Artists’ Creative Habits (blog)
Listen and subscribe
Listen to all Available episodes of season 2:
Or the episodes from season 1, beginnings: