When I sat down to write this post I wanted to get my information right, of course, and that meant that I needed to do a Google search. When I looked up the definition of a “type A personality,” I got this:
noun: Type A; plural noun: Type As
1. a personality type characterized by ambition, high energy, and competitiveness, and thought to be susceptible to stress and heart disease.
Okay… so that last part is kind of scary but to be honest, I believe it. All of that seems great (other than the heart disease), right? And it is! We are often cataloged as work-a-holics and deadline driven which can come in handy in this industry. But that ambition and competitiveness can cause issues when it comes to doing something creative like writing.
The problem with writing when you have a Type A personality is perfection. I have a hard time with just getting the words down and not worrying about how they look. When I stop judging myself and just write the dang book I can feel myself relax and fall in love with my story.
I’ve been Type A my whole life and it was only recently that I have found tools, tips, and tricks for writing when you’re like me.
Let’s get started!
This is an organized person’s dream.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this software, pretty much every author I have ever met or spoken to uses Scrivener. But, if you haven’t heard of it, here’s a short description: “Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata. This allows the user to organize notes, concepts, research and whole documents for easy access and reference.”
How can this help you?
When you open a scene or chapter in Scrivener that is the only thing that you can see. You don’t see the rest of the document so it tricks your brain. You don’t see everything that you’ve written so you don’t go bakc and mess with the words.
Watch out for excessive organizing! Because Scrivener has so many tools that you can utilize in the software, you can sometimes fall into the trap of only organizing and never write. You don’t need to use all of the features, just use the ones that make your process easier.
You’ve heard of these before! Set a timer. Write the whole time. Stop. Rest. Repeat.
It’s simple, really, and you know what? It works! But here’s the catch, you need to practice. In real life an Olympic level sprinter doesn’t just break their personal record every time they run 100 meters. They train to get to that point. I suggest starting small with 5 or 10 minute sprints and then work up from there.
A good resource for word sprints is 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. In this book, Fox outlines the process of training yourself in word sprints so that you can get up to the point of writing 5,000 words in a day, everyday! Wouldn’t that be awesome?
When doing word sprints, DO NOT EDIT! The point of sprinting is that you’re supposed to write without looking back with the aim of getting as many words down as possible in the allotted time. I know you want them to be perfect, but they won’t be. Deal with it, baby!
Outlining or maybe… Pantsing?
If you’re reading this then you’re most likely someone with a type A personality and I’m just making a assumption here but I can imagine that most type A people use outlines for their writing.
This is true for me. I use the Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody Beat Sheet to outline my books. And from there I write out a more detailed outline that has actions, dialogue, and setting in it. But sometimes I feel myself too constrained by my outline and I wish I could just write and figure out where the story would take me.
So I present to you… Pantsing!
If your skin just crawled at the thought out not outlining then I’m sorry, but hear me out. When you write without direction you can find your story and your characters more organically. Everytime you sit down to write your book try free-writing for a few minutes, no direction and no outline. Just get the words down and see what happens. If you don’t like it you can change it later. But, you could find something new and shiny.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have the means to travel, this is bad advice.” I’m not necessarily talking about traveling the world here, though if you do have the means to travel the world then go for it. I’m referring to simply moving your writing position.
Writing is a solitary action. We sit in our rooms, the lights low, candles burning bright, hoods drawn, and fingers flying across the keyboard. And for some people, that’s all they need. Just a blank page and their mind. Some days, that’s all that I need, but other days, I need to get up and move to fill that creative well.
Travel can mean that you go to a coffee shop and write while watching people move about or listen in on their conversations. It can mean that you go for a walk or a hike on a walking path and take pictures of the animals and foliage. And of course, it can mean transnational and international travel to see far away.
How can this help you?
By getting out of your normal setting it causes you to stop and look around, it will spark awe in you. There have been times when I simply went on a 15 minute walk and when I got home the words began flowing and I had solved a plot hole in my story. Going to new places and trying new things is perk of being human!
Rome wasn’t built in a day…
My final note for you is this; Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour. I find myself muttering this to myself (like a crazy person) whenever I get frustrated with the lack of progress I see in my writing.
As people with a Type A personality, we are competitive; often that competitiveness is directed towards ourselves. We always want to push ourselves to be better than we were last time. It’s good to push yourself but push too hard and you could burn out. Give yourself some flexibility and remember that you won’t write a masterpiece the first time around but each word you write is building the groundwork.
I hope some of these tips and tools have helped you to learn how to get your brain to ignore perfection and just get the words down. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bri R. Leclerc is the author of the young adult novel Beaconfield. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Studies with a Minor in English. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts but grew up in Southern Maine and spends most weekends there with her family. She works full-time in software marketing and writes in her spare time. She doesn’t have her own dog, but she very desperately wants one.