Hi SE friends! Gwen with you today, and I’ll be focusing on why we write as we do.
Last month I commented on Extroverts and Introverts, per Dr. Carl Jung’s typology. This post will look at the most challenging difference on his scale: Sensing types (who account for 75 percentage of the population) and Intuitive types. If you are unsure whether you’re a Sensor or an Intuitive, you can go to this site and take a short test.
So who are these folks and how do their perspectives affect writing?
First a story. When I was a kid, I innocently asked my dad how cars work. I was just making conversation and picked a topic I thought he’d like. But dad took me seriously and led me outside to the car. He lifted the hood and began explaining how one thing leads to the next. I only heard the words pistons and radiator. My thoughts were focused on my dad. I was intrigued by his love for cars and amazed by the detailed way he explained how all the different components worked together. By the time he reached the exhaust pipe, I was ever so relieved.
My dad, a farmer, was a Sensing person — very observant, focused on the present, concrete, explicit, and literal. I’m the opposite, a bit of a dreamer and always thinking of possibilities. Through the years, it was my dad who helped me see in the present and in the concrete.
I mention this difference because it finds expression in our writing. The authors below, for example, are all Sensing types. In general, their writing is very direct. Thriller or crime writers often fall into this typology.
- John Grisham
- Amy Chua
- Ernest Hemingway
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Tom Clancy
On the opposite side, the 25 percent side, the Intuitive folks forge a different path. By nature, they are more figurative and abstract. They love the symbolic world and poetic images. These writers are commonly found in fantasy or sci-fi genres. Timelines are less important to them, but the underlying theme of their story is front and center. They enjoy hidden messages, mystery, and the future. Note the authors below:
- Dr. Martin Luther King
- J.K. Rowling
- Anais Nin
- Maya Angelou
- C.S. Lewis
All of us use both Intuitive and Sensing functions. But we all favor one over the other. As much as I love the film series from Clancy’s books featuring Jack Ryan, I’ve never read his work. In fact, of the list of Sensing types above, I’ve only read Ernest Hemingway, and that is probably because it was required reading when I was in school. But, with the Intuitive list, I’ve read books from each of the writers. When I realized this fact, I started looking at the writing style of these two groups of authors.
Take a look at these short clips from their writing:
Fascinating, isn’t it? Seeing the difference in styles has prompted me to pick up one of Clancy’s books. It’s time for me to meet this impressive man through his writing. I suspect I’ll be learning as much about me as I will about him.
A final thought, Jung encouraged his followers to strive for balance. With that as a goal, it seems to me that Sensing writers might consider incorporating some unspoken communication between characters and adding metaphors. On the other side of the fence, Intuitive writers might consider composing line-to-line in a logical progression rather than leaps. They could also pay close attention to the setting and detailed information.
We’ve all much to learn, but I find it thought-provoking that a key aspect of our writing style is something we were born with. Do you find that intriguing as well? I’d love to know your thoughts.
Till next time, have a wonderful weekend!