What Type of Writer Are You?

In his book Making Comics, Scott McCoud talks about how there are as many types of creative people as there are creative people. Really, each individual has their own goals when it comes to writing.

However, it can be fun to identify trends, and there are four broad umbrellas that people can be divided into. These are just for fun, and the sort of creative you define yourself as can vary from project to project. You can identify yourself as a cross between two of them, or treat these however you like.

Labels are flawed, but I just wanted to share these types with you guys, and see how you might categorize yourself.

These explanations are taken from a Guardian article that nicely explains the four different types of creatives that Scott McCloud identifies:

For anyone who hasn't read Scott McCouds works, I would highly recommend giving them a whirl. It's some really great stuff. They're one of the few purchases I still have floating around in hard copy.

Here's a free TED talk to hear more from the guy, he loves his graphics art medium something fierce.


So now that I've gotten that out of my system.

Pinning myself down (objectively) to any one specific 'ist' is difficult. In general my writing is slower paced in places and much more emotional than I ever expected to be. I don't aim for a 'great American novel' in terms of impact, perfection, or political commentary (With any of my works) - to me it's about a story that offers something new to the genre and doesn't follow a perfectly established series of tropes or plotline rollercoaster.

It might be more interesting to hear you state what you think other people fall into category wise. Like a writing personality test - which for some reason I love taking but always enjoy aruging with the results. You can't put me in a box, rawr, and all that.

That's fun.

One can not underline enough that stuff like this is pretty arbitrary. Especially since some of those off-hand remarks really don't make sense in the long run. Truth vs. Beauty was a completely meaningless discussion before about 1700. Beauty was truth, simple as that. Starting with Platonic Aesthetics itself it was said that beauty was identical to the highest truth and good. Christan Scholasticism only furthered that thought: Mathematical Truth was beautiful, God was beautiful because he was true. Even some later movements like aestheticism rejected the notion that there might anything more to truth than just beauty.

But it is indeed very amusing to think about creativity that way.

Which proves: I would like to identify myself as a formal classicist. :)

There is an Ideal of Beauty, surely. We would not come back to the greatest works for hundreds of years if it was just a whim, a mood of times forgotten, just our teachers telling us it is so and nothing more. But there are still rules to Beauty beyond simple (read: primitive) emotional expression. Rules that can be studied an manipulated and thought about - and every day just gives us more tools for the task at hand.

I see shades of an Iconoclast in myself and an Animist. Though granted: That may be a problem with self-labeling in general.

I just... Like telling stories

I just... Like telling stories

Ha, that just makes you an Animist! :D

This is fun. Im gonna get my labeling machine.

I'd second (third) that recommendation to read McCloud's work; I used them a fair bit when studying the links between classical storytelling and modern pop culture for my degree.

I think I major in Iconoclast, minor in Formalisdt, myself. Little interest in tradition, lots in searching for truth and loading my writing with lots of pretension XD

I vary based on mood. Yeah, I tell stories because I want to (like an animist) but I have some Classicist elements, like my desire to achieve greatness and having a pantheon of greats I want to emulate. I also value truth like an Iconoclast (which is why I'm growing to hate politics) and I enjoy reading about deconstructions like a formalist. Maybe a more detailed definition of one would make me think "Yeah, that's me!" but I think those labels are like being non-neurotypical: one psychologist will say you're autistic, another will say you're ADD, and the last will say you're ADHD. In reality, I'm just me.

All of the above and more?

I'm an Animist, who seeks to let the reader experience many of the things that's formed my life. I explore dark, but human, themes (often ones that I, or friends of mine, have experienced personally) in that people can be touched by. I include raw, primal, emotional scenes because that's a significant portion of the human experience. Why read- let alone write- fiction if you don't want to *feel*? That's what textbooks are for.

I'm a Classicist. I believe that storytelling is art, and should be nurtured and sculpted. There are objective goals- strong character development, internal consistency, clear language- and failing to meet those goals is failing to do your role correctly.

I am an Iconoclast. I take, if not political then at least philosophical stances. I believe, in the end, that all human beings are set on the same pedestal. To quote Shakespear: "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" and express that belief in my writing. An expression that has, in fact, resulted in death threats and accusations of being racist and sexist. For believing in *equality*.

And I am most certainly a Formalist. I've said it before, I'll say it again: "Give yourself permission to fail". I take risks, experiment, test and stress my limits as a writer and the limits of text and language as storytelling medium. Knowing full well that doing so can and will cost me time and effort on projects that won't succeed, and readers who don't "get it".

Frankly, this whole categorization thing reminds me of the same mumbo-jumbo as horoscopes. And the human psychological tendency to pigeonhole other people for ease of reference, instead of taking the time to understand individuals on the individual level.

To be fair, those descriptions from the Guardian article fail to sum up what McCloud was getting at. People can, and most likely will, dabble in all four "tribes", but there will always be one that they end up favouring, and another they will tend to ignore. That's why they're arranged like this:

Classicist | Animists

Formalist | Iconoclast

Classicists and Formalists focus on "art", Animists and Iconoclasts on "life".

Classicists and Animists focus on "tradition", Formalists and Iconoclasts on "revolution".

People are inevitably drawn to one, at the expense of the opposite. A formalist values experimentation with the medium, which puts them at odds with the animists, who simply prefer to tell stories, for example.

Yeah, I think of the categories as the sort of thing you do for fun -- not because there are distinct categories that everyone belongs to. They don't really exist. Instead they're just supposed to be lighthearted conversation starters.

If someone were to go into every writing session going, "Am I an Iconoclast?" I think that would be a mistake. Instead it's just nice to have a different perspective through which to view things. Like putting on green-tinted glasses for an hour. You're not supposed to wear them all the time. They just let you see things differently.

Thanks for explaining the chart better, Dary. I was trying to think of a way to convey the chart without using images, but couldn't.

To quote the book itself: "Whatever your personality, there's nothing to stop you from moving from one cluster to another as often as you want. That said, heading towards one or two of these artistic philosophies might turn out to be a good direction for you in the long run, even if it isn't the direction you're heading in now."

And to add (rather than doublepost), it might help to think of it like this (I'm kinda simplifying it here, mind):

A "classicist" superhero story would be about an awesome superhero fighting the bad guys.

An "animist" superhero story would deal with the day to day life of being a superhero.

An "iconoclast" superhero story would deal with the real world consequences of having a super power.

A "formalist" superhero story would experiment with the genre and medium at the expense of story and character.

Animist. Let's not be wishy-washy! ;) I pull from what I know and put the content out there, almost never miss an update, and yeah, I can be narrow minded. (If you didn't click on the article, there's some weaknesses listed as well.) I don't see the other classes fitting me. I don't care if I publish formally as long as I can move people, I don't experiment preferring to build on what exists, and while there is some personal expression I'm not very opinionated in the first place. Besides, "animist" scans a bit like "anime", and that's another influence.

@FrustratedEgo: Interesting video, thanks. I found the time element fascinating (no surprise?) despite coming into this with a bit of comic book bias. (That chain he makes to '9 lives'? My brain does that ALL the TIME. Witness animist/anime.) I'd want to do further research before trying to classify anyone else though.

@TanaNari: While I agree there's a tendency to want to pigeonhole (particularly by businesses), there's usually some underlying sense to the psychology. People born in the spring may exhibit more of some traits that those born in the winter do not, and such.

@Billy: Holding off on classifying yourself then?

Haha, just wanted to give other people a chance to go first Mathans.

I think I relate most to the Formalists, For Better or Worse. I always want to push things in new directions. I think one of the really interesting things about web serials is how much room they have to grow. I love testing those boundaries.

I'm not sure I fit well in animist. Other than liking to tell stories none of that stuff seems to fit.

I mean I gotta assume the other archetypes want to tell stories too. Otherwise they'd do something else.

What type of writer is 'I freak out when someone unfollows me and can't stop wondering why'?

Happy readers posting happy comments (and following me!) is what I care most about. I've no idea how that fits into the four categories.

I think that depends on what you mean by "happy readers". Are they the sort who would hate you if the characters failed, or do they want to see them suffer? An animist would lean towards a happy (traditional) ending, while an iconoclast would go for a truthful one (the hero can't handle the pressure, has a mental breakdown, brings about the end of the world).

Okay, I guess I'm an iconoclast then. :)

Probably an Animist - I love creating content that people can connect with - that's why a lot of my characters are broken, it shouldn't just be the perfect, happy people who see themselves reflected in fiction.

More than anything, I guess, I want to create a world where people feel at home.

I tell stories. I don't care much about high honours or pushing my opinions on people. I'm a bit of a pulp writer - its about the fun and action without being high art.

So what is that? A bit animist?

I just write what I want to see written, and if other people like it, good. If not, well, I got it out of my system. As a result, though, I find a lot of my ideas are difficult to even get started, because if I see too much of an idea has already been done, I won't be able to write it because there's no point. I could never write a Superman story, because there's already a million Superman stories. But I could still write a superhero story if it had an interesting enough premise for me.

Would that make me an Animist? Not sure. I'm my primary audience, I write for entertainment foremost and anything else isn't even really on the radar. Definitely not out to spread messages or advance the art form itself. If anything, writing for me more often feels more like a bloodletting than anything else.