The Right Container {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 25}

Every time I see a play or musical I get this little itch to join the chorus, or practice for a supporting role. I watch the actors’ confident movements, their convincing voices, all the loveliness of set and costume and literature put to music, and it makes me want to be one of them.

I danced with this idea a bit in my twenties, but I ended up settling on the notion that the stage just wasn’t the right container for my calling. I can’t tell a lie with out my face betraying me. I had heart palpitations every time I got the killer card and had to feign innocence when we played the mafia party game during college. And in awkward social situations, I sometimes don’t even know what to do with my hands. Imagine me on stage.

While I could no-doubt gain something from shadowing an actress, practicing this art-form outside of my gifting, it will never be first nature to me. This made even more sense when I got to digging in temperament and personality theory. As an INFP, my seriousness and strong magnetism toward authenticity makes it hard for me to even pretend to be someone else. I “seek unity in [my life], unity of body and mind, emotions and intellect” and that makes it extra hard for me to play a role, even for fun or art’s sake.

The actress and I are both built to express emotion and meaning through art, but we do so in very different ways. The performer’s gifting moves me, and I know that a writer’s work can in turn bless the performer, as we glory in the pages of epic tales finding their way to the stage or screen. (Anybody ready for Les Miserable and The Hobbit on the silver screen this season?!!)

But even as I call myself a writer, I’m aware of the myriad of different angles in my own beloved craft, everything from poetry to technical writing. I shrug at some of them. I know my areas of competence. But then I have my favorites, the types of writing that feel like that comfy divot in my couch, the place I find myself drawn to sit every time. What is your comfy spot? Which of the following descriptions and writing avenues (inspired by this article) feel like your style?

The Guide: This writer takes an idea and explains it in-depth to a readership looking to learn something. Think the five-paragraph expository essay with added protein. Often, this writer is an expert in a certain field or shares findings from extensive research on a topic. This writer looks at a person, place or thing in detail and communicates information to deepen the reader’s understanding. Good outlets for this type of writer may include: biographies, Bible studies and curriculum, children’s books, travel articles/books, how-to articles/books, consumer reports, technical manuals, or academic papers.

The Influencer: This kind of writer communicates an idea in a way that persuades readers to change their thinking or make a commitment. Facts are presented with an intellectual or emotional slant. Those who enjoy friendly debate and making a case for an ideology or lifestyle or product will be especially drawn to this type of writing. Good outlets for this writer include commercial ads, promotional material for not-for-profits, social justice articles/books, political columns/articles/books, speech writing, and opinion editorials.

The Kindred: This writer uses natural, casual language to exhibit her own individual personality, to share ideas, and simply to connect with those around. Often writing in first-person, this writer has a real sense of camaraderie with the reader and uses very personal methods for giving and receiving information. Good outlets for this type of writer include personal letters, social media, blogging, devotional material, and reviews or consumer reports.

The Storyteller: This writer pays attention to the transforming events of her own life or imagines events for fictional characters and uses creative language to communicate plot, character traits and setting. This type of writing is shared from the perspective of a specific narrator, either the author or a character. Good outlets for this writer include short stories, novels, screenplays, narrative essays, children’s books, creative non-fiction and autobiographies/memoirs.

The Wordsmith: This writer is a word artist who expresses emotion, whether whimsy or passion or frustration, through carefully chosen words. Sound, rhythm and meaning are all paramount in the writing process. Good outlets for this writer include poetry, lyrics, short stories, novels and creative non-fiction.

Beyond the categories I’ve listed here, there are other points to consider. Are you an introvert who would work best in a quiet, secluded space as a freelance writer or are you an extravert who would thrive in a busy newsroom as a staff writer? Do you have the discipline it takes to see a long work to completion? If you are one who gets overwhelmed and loses motivation mid-project (like me!), you will probably want to practice achieving some smaller goals such as blogging consistently or submitting a short story to an anthology before you think of publishing your memoir or novel.

When we know ourselves, we use our time and our gifts in the most effective ways. Before we pick up and examine the different writing avenues in more detail, take some time to reflect on who you are as a writer. Revisit your tears, your mission, your history, your transformations, your wide-eyed wonder. Find the style that resonates with you, heart and mind. When you find the right container for your gifts, you’re ready to pour yourself in.

{Share your writer type (or combination of them) below. Or if you’d like other readers and myself to give our take, leave a link to a post on your blog or a public note on your Facebook page and we’ll reply under your comment with our thoughts. Is there anything you would add or change in the categories I have listed?}

This is Day 25 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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9 thoughts on “The Right Container {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 25}

  1. This post helps me with the comparison game that goes on in my mind and heart. Just because I don’t write in the same eloquent way as you does not make me an inept writer; just different. Thanks for this post. It was encouraging to me. I think I probably am The Kindred.

    • The Kindred seems a good fit for you with a sprinkling of some of the other categories as well. I remember our pen pal years, all the boxes of letters to represent friendship. You have always been a writer in the most relational sense. And in thinking of you and your gifts, I decided to add another good outlet to the Kindred category above…devotional materials. I can really see you flourishing in that since it already comes through in many of your blog posts. Have you considered putting together a mini devotional series for the women’s ministry at your church, maybe a one-session devotional at first and then develop it further for a weekend retreat or a six-week study? Something to think about.

      • Thanks for the encouragement. I just had the opportunity to speak at our first women’s retreat for our church. I’m beginning to embrace all of this as God’s calling on my life. To be honest, it’s a little scary to actually reach for the dream rather than just leave it out there untouched. Your blog is stirring the dream in my heart.

  2. Oh, what hard choices! If I must be honest, then I’ll have to admit that I probably could write in any of the categories – I just wouldn’t enjoy it. The niche that is easiest for me – the most comfortable – is probably the Kindred…with flashes of the Storyteller and the Wordsmith making occasional appearances. (Thinking about writing a technical manual just makes me cringe…ugh…definitely NOT a Guide!) But I’m with you on the long-term projects. I always have such high ideals, but run out of “want-to” before I finish.

  3. The INFP piece making it hard to put on other rolls gave me a light-bulb moment. I’ve wanted to play with fiction for years, but I get stuck trying to figure out the ‘voice.’ I want to write from experience, but I know I have to assume an identity to give a character life and I just. can’t. do. it. I’d never connected it to my personality type craving that authenticity. Thank you for this!

  4. Very interesting! I am without a doubt first a kindred, then a wordsmith. But kindred describes me with pretty much 100% accuracy.
    Thanks for this. Very enlightening!

    • Hi, Wendy. Glad you enjoyed thinking through the writer types. :) The popularity of the blogosphere has really opened up writing avenues for Kindreds. And there are the in print and in person options (like devotionals) too. What avenues do you use?

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