I was out dancing last night and chatting with one of my partners who asked me what I did and then had that awestruck reaction when he heard I’m an author. He said something I hear pretty often, and I’m sure a lot of you do, too: “Wow, that’s much more interesting than being an (in this case, environmental designer, but you know, substitute whatever profession…).” And I tried to say what I always try to say in these situations, which is, “Not really,” but of course no one ever believes me so I move quickly on to “I think environmental design sounds really interesting, what’s a typical day like for you?”
Because one of the most interesting things about being a writer, in my opinion, is that you get to be every single other profession under the sun. I think without that aspect of writing I pretty much would die of boredom, or maybe I mean inertia, as in SITTING all damn day.
Of course all of us mystery authors have been cops by now, and DAs and defense attorneys; we’ve been serial killers and doctors and usually teachers, and parents, and hitmen (actually I haven’t and can’t imagine I ever will be, SO not my thing.). You never know when you’re going to have to be an environmental designer, either.
In my new book four of my main characters are psychologists and psych professors so I did some immersion in psychiatric theories. I love that kind of work especially, because it’s not just useful for the particular characters I was creating, but it’s great research for character in general.
One test I’m sure a lot of people here are familiar with is the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, always a fun one to look at when you’re refining character. I myself am of the personality type that can never get through a test that long, especially multiple choice which has always been the bane of my existence, so I can’t tell you my own classification, but I do know I split evenly down the line between Extravert and Introvert. Here are some good sites on the test and the personality types:
I came across two books this time that I particularly like: PERSONALITY SELF-PORTRAIT, by Oldham and Morris, and SHADOW SYNDROMES, by John J. Ratey, MD.
The first one sounds like just some basic self-help pablum but it’s actually VERY useful – it breaks character down into 13 personality “styles” that are mild versions of much more serious personality disorders.
Conscientious Style – Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
Self-Confident Style – Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Devoted Style – Dependent Personality Disorder
Dramatic Style – Histrionic Personality Disorder
Vigilant Style – Paranoid Personality Disorder
Sensitive Style – Avoidant Personality Disorder
Leisurely Style – Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder
Adventurous Style – Antisocial Personality Disorder
Idiosyncratic Style – Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Solitary Style – Schizoid Personality Disorder
Mercurial Style – Borderline Personality Disorder
Self-Sacrificing Style – Self-Defeating Personality Disorder
Aggressive Style – Sadistic Personality Disorder
SHADOW SYNDROMES does basically the same thing, but goes into shadow forms of autism, intermittent rage disorder and bipolar disorder as well. I guarantee you will see people you know or even yourself in some of these descriptions. Me? OCD, I mean Conscientious, for sure, with a large dose of Self-Confident thrown in.
For a more Jungian approach, I’ve never found anything better than Jean Shinoda Bolen’s GODDESSES IN EVERY WOMAN and GODS IN EVERY MAN, which relates personality types to the Greek pantheon (we’ve talked about those books here before.).
So the question is, what personality types are you all, based on what favorite tests? Got any great links or books for us?
And what was YOUR favorite profession to research?
Michael is dealing with my OCD this week by taking me to the beach with NO INTERNET ALLOWED, but he’s going to be fishing half the time so what is he really going to know? I’ll try to check in.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!