I had occasion to reflect on personality and the influences of our personalities in our writing this past week. Particularly, I was thinking about how we see ourselves and how that differs from how others see us, and how our personalities are reflected in our everyday activities. In the case of writers, it is patently impossible to write without infusing the words with aspects of our personality in one form or another.
Personality is defined as those unique qualities that make up who we are. In my case, some of those qualities are my passion, my dedication, my sincerity, my tendency to over-think as well as my propensity for caring deeply about everything and everyone dear to me. These are qualities I believe and hope that people think about when they think of me. Yet I know that others see me differently than I see myself. This is borne out when I happen onto someone’s description of me. In the beginning, I was surprised at how people saw me, but I think over the years I have come to appreciate what effect my personality can have on others and when I hear people describe me now, I am not so surprised anymore. Incidentally, it’s great fun to ask your friends and colleagues to describe you as they see you and compare the differences in how you see yourself. Try it out.
Undeniably, personality changes over time; it’s a benefit of the acquisition of knowledge and experience. Think of how you see a particular issue today and look back 5 or 10 years and try to remember what you thought of that issue then. Maybe a more controversial topic will have a clearer memory formed – politics? religion? We won’t discuss them here, but for the sake of remembering, think how your views on something like politics or religion may have changed over the years. Even if you think the same about an issue but your reaction to being challenged on it has changed, that indicates a change in personality.
Our personalities are influenced by many different factors – our parents, our peers, life experiences, our career choices, and so on. We are a sum total of everything we have experienced, every impression we have formed, and every personality we have come in contact with in our lives. It should be no surprise, then, that everything we do or say now, and even write, is a reflection of our personality influences.
It has been said that every character a writer ever wrote about includes some aspect or more of themselves. Sue Grafton said, in an interview posted on her website, the main character in her series of novels – Kinsey Millhone – often checks the acknowledgement of a book first as a direct reflection of what she, Sue, herself does. When Stephen King pens the screenplay adaptations for his books, he writes himself into a small role in the script. Janet Evanovich is quoted on her website as saying: ” I wouldn’t go so far as to say Stephanie is an autobiographical character, but I will admit to knowing where she lives.”
I think most writers will agree with me in saying that their writing is simply an extension of themselves and their imaginations. So my question to you, dear readers, is twofold. If you’re a writer, do you notice bits and pieces of yourself floating onto the page as you write? And if you’re a reader, do you find that you feel you are getting to know your favourite author better the more you read their books? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook fan page.