I love taking online quizzes that pretend to provide all the answers regarding my personality and how to structure my life accordingly. However, I recently took a personality test that let me know I was an ISTJ and the results were eerily close to what my personality is! Now, depending on which site you use to take the personality test, you may get different results as to what each letter stands for. My favorite definition is that I am an (I)ntrovert, S(ensing), T(hinking) and J(udging).
But what does this mean to me as a writer? How does this personality test provide useful how to’s when interacting with me in my natural habitat: the office. That’s where 16 personalities comes in. This website breaks down each personality type, providing you insightful tips on your strengths and weaknesses, romantic relationships, friendships, parenthood, career paths and workplace habits. For this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the strengths and weaknesses and which of them rings true for me as a writer.
All of these definitions are from 16 personalities.
- Honest and Direct: Integrity is the heart of the ISTJ personality type. Emotional manipulation, mind games and reassuring lies all run counter to ISTJs’ preference for managing the reality of the situations they encounter with plain and simple honesty.
- If you ask me a question, I will answer it honestly. I find I have trouble writing characters who are manipulative because it does not come easily for me. Sure I know how to snuggle up to someone and ask real sweetly for something I want but I don’t lie about the thing I want. Most of the time I’ll just walk up to them and ask for something. Sadly, this has also gotten me into trouble. If you ask me if I like your cooking…I will answer honestly. If you ask me if that top makes you look fat…be ready for an honest answer. If you ask me to critique your story, I’m going to give you my honest opinion about it, pros and the cons.
- Strong-willed and Dutiful: ISTJs embody that integrity in their actions too, working hard and staying focused on their goals. Patient and determined, people with the ISTJ personality type meet their obligations, period.
- This is why I need goals because I love that warm, tingly feeling I get when I accomplish them. My goal is to write two short stories every month, equaling 150 pages before I return to residency in May. Update: I currently have 124 pages which means I am just 26 pages from my goal! One of my new short stories will be a complete rewrite of an old story so we shall see how many pages I will lose or gain from the edits. But yeah, I’m very determined to meet this goal and many have said I am strong-willed which also works against me in several occasions. Lets just say, if you get in the way of my goal, I will bulldoze over you and never look back.
- Very Responsible: ISTJs’ word is a promise, and a promise means everything. ISTJs would rather run themselves into the ground with extra days and lost sleep than fail to deliver the results they said they would. Loyalty is a strong sentiment for ISTJ personalities, and they fulfill their duties to the people and organizations they’ve committed themselves to.
- If you give me a job I will complete it no matter how many hours of sleep I lose or if I need to stay behind, spending long hours in the office by my lonesome. It’s the way I look at life. If you agree to do something then you should do it. If I enroll in an MFA program that expects me to complete a 20-30 page extended critical essay I’m going to do it. If my mentor wants me to have a packet turned in during the week I have to fly out for a funeral, I’m going to get that packet in before I set foot on the plane. DEADLINES ARE EVERYTHING. My mentor tells me to write my novel out of order, submit two new stories plus three new flash fiction pieces in the next packet, I’m doing it, no questions asked. Why? Because that’s what I signed up for. Everything was clearly stated in the student handbook (and NO I have not read the entire student handbook just the workshop and independent study bits) so I’m not entering this process blind.
- Calm and Practical: None of their promises would mean much if ISTJs lost their tempers and broke down at every sign of hardship-they keep their feet on the ground and make clear, rational decisions. Peoples’ preferences are a factor to consider in this process and ISTJs work to make the best use of individual qualities but these decisions are made with effectiveness in mind more so than empathy. The same applies to criticisms, for others and themselves.
- I’m a very mellow person except when I’m excited then I’m bouncing off the walls. But I’m not an angry person. It takes a lot for an adult to push my buttons to the point of me exploding but I also know that if someone starts irritating me, I’ll step away. I’m not going to stand there and take it when I can simply remove myself from the situation. I also realize that life happens, something I portray in my stories. I love a calm, collected character but this often comes off as cold and withdrawn. I also don’t get emotional when someone says they find something confusing in one of my stories. People who get defensive in workshop confuse me, why be in a workshop if you cannot handle critique? I have plenty of stories of authors insisting the story is not about them yet all their arguments are defensive. If I ask if a character can show more emotion during one scene, remind you this fiction, the response should not be “well it didn’t happen that way. When certain event happened, I didn’t feel anything and that’s how I wrote it on the page.” Sir or madam you are in the wrong workshop and even when we think we don’t feel anything, we are thinking SOMETHING.
- Create and Enforce Order: The primary goal of any ISTJ is to be effective in what they’ve chosen to do, and they believe that this is accomplished best when everyone involved knows exactly what is going on and why. Unclear guidelines and people who break established rules undermine this effort, and are rarely tolerated by ISTJs. Structure and rules foster dependability; chaos creates unforeseen setbacks and missed deadlines.
- I love order! I love my binders with dividers, I love my books on the shelves organized by semester and purpose. M sock drawer is my sock drawer and my legging/stocking drawer is my legging/stocking drawer. Dresses, pants, sweatshirts, jackets and coats. Everything has its place. The last sentence fits me perfectly “Structure and rules foster dependability, chaos creates unforeseen setbacks and missed deadlines.” Did you say missed deadlines?!?!?!?!!?!?
- Stubborn: The facts are the facts, and ISTJs tend to resist any new idea that isn’t supported by them. This factual decision-making process also makes it difficult for people with the ISTJ personality type to accept that they were wrong about something but anyone can miss a detail, even them.
- I am stubborn, very stubborn. But I don’t think its so much based on facts so much as once I decide I’m going to do something I’m going to do it. If I say I’m going to the supermarket to get butter, I’m going to the supermarket to get butter. Do not come with me and expect me to drive you around. I told you where I was going. If I already determine I am going into my office to write, I recline any invitations to go elsewhere. Now, I do have to swallow a very large pill when it comes to admitting i am wrong and I am getting better in doing so.
- Insensitive: While not intentionally harsh, ISTJs are [prone to] hurt more sensitive types’ feelings by the simple mantra that honesty is the best policy. ISTJ personalities may take emotions into consideration, but really only so far as to determine the most effective way to say what needs to be said.
- So remember how I said I was honest and life happens? How I will bulldoze over you if you get in the way of my goals and deadlines? Yeah, this comes off as insensitive. I have the hardest time understanding sensitive and emotional people so I tend to sit quietly and nod. Then, when they ask me something and want my honest opinion…everything just goes downhill. The most common response? “Well damn! Tell me how you really feel?!” I just did that…and now you are angry with me? WHAT? I don’t…I can’t….what? Now if you are sick I like to think I’m pretty understanding. Laid up in bed, sure. But if you are stressed because you procrastinated on something you’ve known the deadline for….yeah…your not gonna get too much comfort over here.
- Always by the Book: ISTJs believe that things work best with clearly defined rules, but this makes them reluctant to bend those rules or try new things, even when the downside is minimal. Truly unstructured environments leave ISTJs all but paralyzed.
- This applies to little K.B. who always did as the adults told her. My friends used to compare me to Chuckie from Rugrats, always the cautious one who nervously followed along. Unstructured environments definitely make me uncomfortable which is probably why I don’t go into areas with a bunch of children running around. Paralyzed…is the correct term when I find myself in these environments. I stand there, not knowing what to do or how to handle the situation. I can’t think and the room feels like it is slowly shrinking, everything closing in around me.
So you want to be friends with a writer who is an ISTJ? Just remember, I love my deadlines so don’t get in the way of them. When you ask for my honest critique on your manuscript, be ready to receive it. I’m not quick to anger unless, well you know, my deadlines. I also don’t like to break the rules so if you want to do something super sketchy I’ll probably pass. Even if I become a well known editor and you want me read your manuscript for publication, I’ll probably make you send it to me through your agent, query and all.
Its who I am, an ISTJ through and through!
Some famous ISTJs:
- George Washington
- Natalie Portman
- Condoleeza Rice
- Eddard Stark
- Hermione Granger
- Thorin Oakenshield!
This post is in response to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.