Thursday, February 19, 2015

Personality and the Writer

Edie here. Today I'm excited to introduce a guest post from a good friend of mine, Linda Gilden. Linda isn't just a fabulous writer, she's also a conference director. The Carolina Christian Writers Conference is one of my go-to recommendations every single year. 

Personality and the Writer
by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Recently a friend called. “How do you do this?” she demanded.

“Do what?” I asked.

“How do you sit there all day and write? Don’t you get bored? Are you tired of being by yourself?”
I gave her a quick explanation of why my purposeful/melancholy personality was so well suited for writing. I also explained why as a playful/sanguine personality, she didn’t like being confined in a chair for long periods of time—alone! Once she understood why she needed multiple breaks and lunches out with her friends she was less hard on herself to fit the writer “mold.”

It may seem strange to even consider what personality you are if you are a writer. After all, you sit in front of your computer and type just like all the other writers in the world, right?

Well, yes and no. No matter what God has called you to do, it is affected in part by the personality He has given you.

For instance, the playful/sanguine writer loves the idea of having something in print. However, sitting in the same chair for hours on end with no one around to talk to is extremely difficult for this fun-loving, social personality. It almost seems a waste to keep all his or her enthusiasm still in a chair while waiting for a brilliant idea to come along. 

But playful/sanguine writers usually don’t lack for ideas. They just lack the discipline to carry through with those ideas. Sometimes they find it hard to stay on task and not put off the work part of writing. Their genuine love of people makes them love the research interviews but find it hard to focus on transcribing that interview into a wonderful story or book. But once the playful/sanguine writer gets started, his or her writing is colorful, descriptive, and fast-moving.

The powerful/choleric writer is strong-willed and decisive and once the decision is made to write an article or book, he or she is full speed ahead to check the task off his or her list. The powerful/choleric writer is not easily discouraged and goal-oriented and will get the job done. 

When doing their research interviews, the powerful/choleric writer arrives prepared with a list of questions and when they have the answers, the interview is done. The powerful/choleric’s writing is logical and easy to follow.

The purposeful/melancholy
writer is creative and a deep thinker, always wanting to learn more about his or her subject. Being schedule-oriented, the purposeful/melancholy writer likes to finish every project he or she starts. While doing research interviews, the purposeful/melancholy writer wants to know more about his or her subject, sometimes requiring much more time than allotted. 

Often the purposeful/melancholy writers finds his or her perfectionism to be a hindrance. It’s hard to push the “send” button unless it is absolutely perfect and the mindset is that if the writer can just go over it one more time, it will eliminate more mistakes. The writing of the purposeful/melancholy writer is often deep and full of details and he or she will cover the subject thoroughly.

The peaceful/phlegmatic writer is a steady and competent writer. He or she works well under pressure, wanting to finish the tasks assigned. Because of his or her peaceful and laid-back style, this writer sometimes looks for the easy way to complete a task (and often finds it!).  

The writing of a peaceful/phlegmatic writer is sensitive and heartfelt. When conducting a research interview, he or she wants to get it done so he or she can finish the project. Peaceful/phlegmatic writers also love to be around people but sometimes prefer just to finish the article so naptime will come more quickly!

Do you see yourself in one of these personalities? Are there times when you need to take a step back from your writing habits and allow your personality strengths to make you a better writer?

Take time to join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Linda Gilden knows the tremendous impact and power of words and loves helping new writers discover the joy in choosing just the right ones. She is the author of the "Love Notes" series, Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, (New Hope Publishers), Mama was the Queen of Christmas and Personality Perspectives (OakTara). She is looking forward to the release of her newest book coauthored with Edna Ellison, Called to Write. Linda has written and ghostwritten many other books, hundreds of articles, and is a regular columnist for and She teaches regularly at national writer's conferences and directs the Carolina Christian Writers Conference and CLASS Christian Writers Conference. Linda leads a writing group and is managing editor of The Encourager, a magazine of First Baptist Spartanburg, SC. 

Linda is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She finds great joy in time spent with her family. Recently she and her eight-year-old granddaughter coauthored an article for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Her favorite activity is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren!


  1. Good job, Linda (and Edie). You are truly two of my favorite people with personality plus and what I call the "go getter gene." And it's contagious in all you do. Thank God.
    Hugs, Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter

  2. Linda, I am just like your friend' plus I have ADHD...squirrel! I am praying that I will "set my face like flint" and focus on getting my 5 books written. I would love to be more like a powerful/choleric. Thank you, Edie for sharing this with us.

  3. Hi, Linda. Remember me from the Florida Christian Writers Conference? I haven't been there in a few years but that conference remains an important part of writing journey. I actually see myself in two of the personalities--a little bit melancholy and a little bit phlegmatic. Though I'd rather go by the other words and say I'm purposeful and peaceful :) Thanks so much for the interesting post.

  4. Linda,

    A great post and very timely. I just realized (in reading old journals) that I'm not the optimist I've always thought I was. I'm actually a rather melancholy gal.

    Now this post comes along and I see that discovery confirmed.

    Even better, you gave me pointers and incorporating that personality into my work.

    Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

    And thank you, too!

  5. I definitely fit into the "melancholy/purposeful" category. Even though I have a cheerful personality, I'm dead serious about my writing. I also think that readers might find my stories more cerebral than exciting, since I tend to delve into the complexities of human emotion.

  6. A 'playful/sanguine' am I! I love to write, but I love being surrounded by my family and friends more (oops, perhaps this isn't the place to confess that). I find it difficult to sit at my iMac and write for hours, but when I do take the hot seat, I'm pleasantly surprised at the results. Thank you both for this great article. After all these years (69), I'm so happy to discover why I do what I do (and why I don't do what I'm supposed to do--is there a pill for this dilemma?)

  7. Thanks for all your kind words and affirmation about the importance of knowing yourself and your personality as you follow your writing journey. Thanks, Elva.Of course, I remember you Johnnie. Hope your writing is going well.Cherrilyn, Carrielyn, Linda Lee, and Sharon - so glad you could identify. I have found that understanding my personality has helped me not to be so hard on myself and to keep my expectations realistic. Knowing how very melancholy I am has also given me tremendous freedom to be who God created me to be and not to expect anything else. Sharon, there are times I would love to be that playful/sanguine but, alas, that's just not me! So thankful to hear from all of you, Keep writing and using the gifts Gos has given you.