Why do you write?

On Tuesday I had lunch with the excellent writer and about-to-be new mum, Anna Packham. One of the things that makes Anna such a good copywriter, as well as fiction writer, is that she is a communicative writer.

I've been trying to formalise the idea that writers fall into one of two main personality types (which is a massive generalisation and has many exceptions) because it's something I find very useful when teaching.

Communicative writers - often feel they are 'chanelling' or being 'given' a story - they write, in part, to share that story with others, and they are often intense observers of the world around them, gossipy (or at least nosy!) and highly inspired by things they see or hear, to which they try to attribute motivations or endings.

Insular writers tend to write to crystallise an internal world through which they pass, examining structures and having experiences in a coherent and self-sustaining universe that is not much impacted by the external world.

Communicators have little difficulty starting a story, and will usually finish it, if it is short, and be keen to send it out. They aren't quite so motivated to revise a finished story though, and often submit work that they've only given a cursory glance to, once they've finished writing. Communicators struggle more as the piece of work they are writing gets longer and novels daunt them in a way that short stories don't.

Insular writers have more problem getting starting and finishing a story, but once they have done so, they will revise it until it is perfect, and then often feel no particular need to send the work out for potential publication because they are satisfied by the achievement of making concrete one part of their personal world. Long works tend to hold little fear for them, and an insular writer feels quite comfortable letting a story determine its own length and spending months refining the perfect form for a piece of fiction.

Many people immediately recognise which of the two camps they belong in, while others have attributes from both - recognising which you are can help you spot where you are likely to struggle most with your fiction and help you to address the issues that prevent you having as much fun with writing as you would like.