On the first day of the BYOB challenge, I reflecting on how I started writing, what I wrote, and how my writing has evolved since then.
In the second post, thanks to Shaunta’s exercise, I inquired into the what and why of my writing. I brainstormed about what I want to write and why I want to write it.
Reflective writing has helped me many times. It gives me a better understanding of my own psyche. It was no different this time when I reflected on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of my writing.
I feels strange that I actually need to write in order to understand myself better. But I know I’m not alone. The knowledge that I am in distinguished company makes it a little easier:
“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” — Joan Didion
The Writer Archetype Quiz
In the same exercise where I reflected on the motivation for writing, Shaunta also offered an invitation to take the Writer Archetype Quiz.
She has created five archetypes for writers: Hesitator, Skipper, Spiller, Teacher, and Artist. If you answer the questions in her quiz, you will understand the primary and secondary archetype you belong to as a writer.
I know archetypes are generalizations and not 100% accurate. But the process of taking these quizzes has always taught me something more about myself. I just have to apply some awareness and critical thinking to examine the quiz results and check what really resonates with me. I am glad to say that the Writer Archetype Quiz also helped me understand myself better.
According to the quiz, my primary archetype is Spiller and the secondary archetype is Teacher. So I am a Spiller — Teacher.
If you’re a Spiller, then you can stop trying to write listicles and how-to posts. They aren’t your thing. Your authenticity is your shining light. You need a system for remembering to invite your reader into your work. Start by creating an avatar for your ideal reader — an invented reader that you’re writing for. — Writer Archetype Quiz
If you’re a Teacher, then you can stop trying to write highly personal essays that don’t feel natural to you. That’s not your strong suit. You are an idea person and sharing those ideas is where you blossom as a writer. You need a system for capturing those ideas and sticking with one long enough to finish it. Try keeping an idea notebook and rewarding yourself for finishing one project by allowing yourself to explore another. — Writer Archetype Quiz
It’s very interesting that a Spiller and Teacher are opposites in some ways. But the result from the quiz rang true to me. I am going to reflect on points from these categories and check how they apply to me.
If you’re a Spiller, then you can stop trying to write listicles and how-to posts. They aren’t your thing
That’s interesting. I am not a big fan of listicles but I do enjoy writing how-to posts. Maybe it’s because I am also a teacher. When I understand something, I enjoy sharing it with others. Very often, the sharing takes the form of a how-to post.
Your authenticity [as a Spiller] is your shining light
This feels very true to me. I strive to be authentic in my writing.
Reading other people’s authentic life stories and how they dealt with challenges, has helped me in dealing with my own issues. I always try to remember that when I write. Someone reading my work might realize that they are not alone in their problems and could find hope from the sense of community. When I write about how I was able to move past a problem, it might help someone else who needs guidance with a similar issue. So, absolutely — I like to write authentically. I like to voice my opinions clearly and respectfully of others who may have different beliefs. I also write about where I am struggling. I hate projecting a glossy image that shows me as someone who’s got everything figured out. In fact, I believe that kind of writing is downright dangerous because it makes everyone else feel like they are the only ones struggling in life.
“We must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.” — Gustave Flaubert
You need a system [if you are a Spiller] for remembering to invite your reader into your work
This is great advice. I don’t want my writing to be a monologue. I want it to be a dialogue with the reader. I’m going to have to put in some effort to develop this skill.
[Spiller] Start by creating an avatar for your ideal reader — an invented reader that you’re writing for
This one’s a bit difficult because I don’t know who my ideal reader is. I would suppose my ideal reader is someone similar to me but that’s just a guess. I hope to find out more about who enjoys my writing, after publishing a few more articles. So at the moment, I am not writing for a specific type of reader. I plan to write about what I know and what feels true to me with the hope that my writing will find its audience.
If you’re a Teacher, then you can stop trying to write highly personal essays that don’t feel natural to you. That’s not your strong suit
Avoiding anything that doesn’t feel natural to me is great advice but, at times, I do write highly personal essays. As a teacher, I like to draw from my own life experiences and bring myself to the table, so to say.
[Teacher] You are an idea person and sharing those ideas is where you blossom as a writer. You need a system for capturing those ideas and sticking with one long enough to finish it. Try keeping an idea notebook and rewarding yourself for finishing one project by allowing yourself to explore another.
I disagree with this point. A teacher is someone who teaches. Some teachers may indeed be brimming with a lot of ideas while other teachers may take a more grounded approach and focus on teaching the basics or teach entirely drawing from their own life experiences. However, I do love the idea of keeping an Idea Journal and finding ways to share my ideas.
My Takeaway From the Quiz
- I enjoy writing how-to articles when I get a good grasp of a concept. It could be deep knowledge about something or an understanding of a process that works. It could also be an insight, an aha moment, about how to deal with an issue I’ve been struggling with. I enjoy sharing all of these and some will likely take the form of a how-to article. However, bringing my authenticity to the table is a great idea and I want to strive to write even the how-to articles in an authentic voice and some wit if I can manage.
- Spillers shine at being authentic. This feels true to the gut for me. I have a strong feeling that I will enjoy writing autobiographical fiction and reflective essays about my own life experiences.
- Inviting readers into my writing is a great idea. I plan to actively work on this skill.
- To avoid anything that doesn’t feel natural to me is another piece of great advice. I want to write slowly and feel my way into what I write. I think this will happen naturally if I practice Sacred Writing.
- Keeping an Idea Journal is another great suggestion. I am going to make one as soon as I hit publish.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Are you struggling with trying to define yourself as a writer? You can try taking the Writer Archetype Quiz for more clarity.