Hidden Diversity Among Writers

Hi SE friends! Gwen with you today, and we’re going to explore another element of typology as it relates to writing.

You may recall that my prior two posts focused on Extroversion/Introversion and Sensation/Intuition, per the work of Dr. Carl Jung. Today I will continue that journey by focusing on Jung’s two modes of judging – Thinking and Feeling. If you are unsure of your typology, and if you are interested, you can take the short test provided here. There are longer tests available that are more accurate, but this short one offers plenty of insight.

Let’s begin with a story.

Most of my working years were spent on college campuses. My supervisor at the final institution was a geophysicist with two PhDs. Needless to say, he is a strong Thinker type. I’m a strong Feeler type. It took one meeting with him to realize that if I were to be successful in my position, I needed to learn to speak his language. He wasn’t interested in how people might feel and delegated all such matters to me. He was focused on provable facts, evidence-based conclusions, and clear logical steps to reach determined goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m interested in the same, but at the forefront of my decision-making are people. When my boss addressed the faculty or other groups, he provided a point by point analysis and plan. When I spoke to the same gatherings, I tried to evoke their partnership for a course of action. We were both right, and most of the time, our two approaches complemented one another.

All of us make judgments and use both objective and subjective reasoning. But we use one approach more than the other and that dominant approach finds its way into our writing. Below are a few much-loved Thinker-type writers. They tend to be well organized and are often described as plotters.

  • Lewis Carroll
  • Hannah Arendt
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Ayn Rand
  • Mark Twain

For comparison purposes, I’ve also identified some beloved Feeler-type writers. They are natural improvisors, and their first drafts would probably horrify any true Thinker-type.

  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Erica Jong
  • Anne Frank
  • Agatha Christie
  • Thich Nhat Hanh

Let’s see if we can detect a difference in their styles. I’ve taken the liberty of listing a well-known quote from each of them. The Feeler writers are shaded and their names bolded for ease of comparison.

Can you detect a difference in style, slight though it might be? Did you relate to one type more than another?

When I began this typology journey, I didn’t know what I’d find or if there was any value to my quest. But with each step, doors opened, and I began to see a beautifully diverse writing world. We are all unique and through our chosen genres and singular writing styles, we share bits and pieces of who we are, whether we intend to or not. How incredible is that!

I look forward to your comments and to meeting you through your books.

Until my next post,

64 thoughts on “Hidden Diversity Among Writers

  1. Another fascinating post! I did this test and I’m still an INFJ. It may be that you need to feel and be an empath to convey a range of emotions in a novel, but you also need to be able to think about things such as structure and language. Many thanks for making me think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Alex. You make an important point – we need both Thinking and Feeling when we write. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post. 💗

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  2. This was very interesting, Gwen. I’ve taken these tests several times, dating back to when I was in graduate school. Thinker, for sure, but I am learning how to appreciate the feeler. It’s satisfying to see authors I admire on both sides of the equation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Dan. In reality, we’re both Thinkers and Feelers, we just use one function more than the other. My career helped me grow the Thinker part of me, but when I read about one of your building projects and see the photos, I am stunned. I simply could not do what you do. Thank God for the diversity of gifts. 😊

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  3. This is fascinating, Gwen. I’m a feeler too, though you’re totally right that we all are both to varying degrees. I wonder how this relates to writing character-driven or plot-driven novels. That seems true of the authors you highlighted. And that leads me to wonder about our reading preferences as well. Great post.

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    • Thank you, Diana. This typology journey has me asking similar questions as you. I just finished a plot-driven novel and emotions were rarely mentioned, and I don’t believe the word “feel” was ever used. It was a curious reading experience, very different from my usual choices, but definitely eye-opening. Thank you again. 😊

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    • You are so right, Darlene. Thank you for sharing that great insight! We do just that when we create our characters. Have a wonderful weekend. 😊

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  4. Hi Gwen–I’ve enjoyed your posts about different personalities. My favorite quote is by Bernard Shaw: “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” I must admit that I am also stronger in thinking vs. feeling which impacts the types of books that I like to read.

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    • Thank you for sharing, Linnea. The journey through typologies has helped me see why we’re drawn to different writers and their books, and of course, why we write as we do. I find it absolutely fascinating. Have a wonderful weekend! 😊

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  5. I’m definitely a feeler—to the degree that I’m also an empath. It can be rough at times, but I’ve come to the realization it’s just the way I’m wired, LOL.
    A fascinating subject, Gwen, and I enjoyed the quotes!

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    • I’m a strong empath as well, Mae. Walking into a room with a bunch of people can be overwhelming. 😊 I’m so pleased you enjoyed the quotes and post.

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  6. I find this study all so fascinating, Gwen! Had to take the test again… INFJ. The last two author quotes are my favorites, but I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about them all. Thanks! Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. 💞

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    • Thank you, dear Bette. I’m so pleased you’ve enjoyed this series. I learned a lot and came to appreciate the uniqueness of writers even more. Have a wonderful weekend. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  7. HI Gwen. I am definitely a thinker and a plotter too. I know exactly where I am going with my books and write steadily towards that unwavering goal. George Bernard Shaw’s quote resonates with me. I never understand people who tell me they need to find themselves although I try to be understanding and kind about it, I just don’t get it.

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    • I love your response, Robbie, and I’m glad you were spared the quest. I’m one of those who spent enormous time trying to figure everything out. It’s no wonder I majored in psychology and theology, right? Anyway, at this stage in life, every moment is a blessing to be lived fully. 😊

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  8. Another interesting post. Like Denise, I was surprised to see Agatha Christie as a feeler since her plots are so intricate. And I was just as surprised to see Mark Twain as a thinker–not sure why. I guess because he used someone young as a protagonist, and I think of kids as more emotional. But actually, thinkers were probably thinkers even when they were little.

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    • Thank you, Judi. You might be right about Christie and Twain. I haven’t studied their work to figure out my own assessment for either of them. I simply reported what I found on the net. Now you have me wondering… 😊

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  9. I am definitely a feeler and have been since I can remember. I think it would be awesome to find a good balance between thinking and feeling. I’m still working on that part after nearly 70 years. 🙂 My heart has always led me. This is so interesting. Another thing that I find interesting but not surprising is that the majority of thinkers are men. They are wired to be the thinkers while women are wired to be more nurturing (generally speaking.) Great post, Gwen. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Well done, Gwen. I’m definitely a feeler and worked my entire life with the thinkers. I have to say trying to find a way to communicate and get along is what feelers do. The thinkers just say my way or the highway. I thought your examples of the different types of authors were excellent. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, John. Your insight about communication is eye-opening. I hadn’t thought of it in that way, but now I’m wondering about the converse as well. See what you’ve done–you’ve got my feeler brain analyzing again. Have a wonderful weekend. 😊

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  12. Great post, Gwen! I’m definitely a feeler, but writing under contract has forced me to be a thinker too by having to write a synopsis before a book is contracted…yuck! I enjoyed the quotes! Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!❤️

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    • Thank you, Jill. I can’t imagine writing a synopsis before writing the book. Yuck is right! My prior work definitely helped me balance my strong feeler side, so I suspect that’s happening for you as well. Hope your weekend is fantastic. 😊

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    • Thank you, Craig. I’m so pleased you’ve enjoyed this typology journey. It’s definitely helped me see that there’s no one box for writers to fit into. We’re all beautifully different. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing, Yvette. I’m a strong feeler, but over the years, I’ve certainly grown to be more analytical. I think my work experience helped me with that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. What an interesting post! I feel things deeply. I cry at Hallmark commercials. But I identify most with Lewis Carroll’s quote. There’s something so satisfying about planning and learning and trying to grow oneself. And yes, I’m a plotter.:-)

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    • Thank you, Priscilla. I love your example of Hallmark commercials. I’m also a great planner, but when I write, the characters seem to take over. 😊

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  15. I’m an INFJ, so I fall into the Feeler group, but I actually identify with as many of the thinker quotes as the feeler quotes. In fact, I have one of the thinker quotes framed and hung on my wall here at home. lol

    On a related but slightly tangential note, when I worked in public relations, my boss gave me a book called Genderspeak. It wasn’t actually (necessarily) about the differences in how men versus women spoke, but it did focus on how some people were visual learners, some auditory learners, and some tactile. If you have a communication breakdown, you can often tell why by listening to their speech. One person might say, “I can’t see what you’re trying to show me.” The other person may answer, “Why won’t you just listen to what I’m trying to tell you?” The breakdown is because one person is a visual learner and one person is an auditory learner, and the clues are evident in their speech. In that book (and in public relations), we’re taught to listen to a person’s speech for those clues and then to adjust our message so that we can then bridge the gap to make our message seen, heard, or felt by our audience.

    I know it’s not quite the same as thinking versus feeling, but that’s what your post today made me think about. In any case, I’m really enjoying these posts, Gwen.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Staci. Genderspeak is related to typology in that over seventy percent of men are Thinkers and similarly over seventy percent of women are Feelers. It’s fascinating to me that we’re born with these traits, but through life, we’re coached to become what we’re not. Amazing, right? Thank you, again. 🙂

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      • That breakdown doesn’t surprise me at all. Nor does it surprise me that we’re coached to become things we’re not. But if we’re going to communicate with others, especially in the corporate world, I guess we kind of have to. A blessing and a curse, I suppose.

        You’re doing a great job with these posts, Gwen.

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  17. Another wonderful post, Gwen. I was surprised to see Agatha Christie as a feeler, I guess I associated solving murders as more thinkers. It was nice to see Thich Nhat Hanh here. His feelings are so peaceful and its so clear he’s a feeler. You make a good point of how a thinker and feeler can compliment each with different approaches. I am definitely a full feeler, and my first draft shows that as I work my way through. I’ve really enjoyed this series of posts.

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