No two writers are exactly alike. Some can churn out 10 chapters before breakfast, while others need months to organize their thoughts and produce a thorough outline. Some like to write only with their lucky pen, and some do their best work in their favorite pajamas.
Luckily, there’s no wrong or right way to go about writing (except not writing at all!) Below are six types of writers that you probably know (or identify with!) Which one best describes your writing style?
1. The Tortured Novelist
These writers are never satisfied. In fact, they could spend years rewriting the last three chapters of their novel before they let anyone see it. Maybe they’re perfectionists, or maybe they’ve just gotten so attached to their story that they really want to do it justice.
Ernest Hemingway, for example, rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms 47 times, while F. Scott Fitzgerald continued to rewrite The Great Gatsby even years after it had been published.
You can probably find the Tortured Novelist locked up in their library or office, downing endless cups of coffee (or something else, depending on the hour) and shooting yet another draft into the trash bin.
You might be a Tortured Novelist if:
- You’re often called a perfectionist
- You prefer to take your time with important tasks
- You check your work thoroughly
- You obsess about finding the perfect words
2. The Speed Racer
At the other end of the writing spectrum is the Speed Racer. When these writers get an idea, they know how to run with it—and fast. Their talent is in their ability to articulate their ideas clearly and quickly (although no one’s denying that they’ll need a good editor once it’s done).
Ian Fleming was notoriously fast when it came to churning out his Bond novels (he averaged about six weeks for each installment).
Of course, a writer’s speed might change depending on what kind of book they’re writing, how much research they have to do first, and a variety of other factors. But in general, once a Speed Racer gets that pen to paper, there’s no stopping them.
You might be a Speed Racer if:
- You finish tasks very quickly
- You experience short bursts of high productivity
- You’re never at a loss for words
3. The Writing Snob
The Writing Snob has a reading equivalent, and you’ll know them when you meet them.
They’ll go on and on about their process, and whatever the “in” influencer they know from the writing world is doing. They only read high-brow literature and write exclusively in leather-bound journals shipped straight from Flroence.
Oh, and their coffee is always black. Always.
You might be a Writing Snob if:
- You spend more time talking about writing than actually writing
- You love to gift others with your writing advice (it’s only right, after all)
- Your bookshelf is stocked with the classics and whatever the current president recommends in his reading list
4. The Plotter
The Plotter isn’t a fan of surprises. That’s why they start their writing process with a strong outline, plotting all of the major events and elements.
Once they have this framework in place, they’ll turn that outline into polished prose. Sure, there’s always room for a little improvisation, but you usually won’t catch a Plotter scrapping characters or major plot points at the last minute.
You might be a Plotter if:
- You love outlines
- You hate surprises
- You’re always prepared for any situation
- You have a detailed agenda
- In your group of friends, you always make the plans
Bonus: Take our plotter vs pantser quiz to find out how much planning your writing style requires.
5. The Pantser
The Pantser does what the Plotter would deem unfathomable: They take an idea, start from the beginning, and let the rest flow from there.
They might have a vague idea of where and how the story will end up, but let’s just say it doesn’t keep them up at night. Ever heard the expression “fly by the seat of your pants”? That’s them.
You might be a Pantser if:
- You buy one-way tickets for your vacations
- You’re always up for anything
- You don’t like to make plans too far in advance
6. The Storyteller
The Storyteller usually starts out as a reluctant writer, or even a Closet Writer (see #7, below). But there’s something burning inside of them, a story that just needs to be told.
Maybe they survived a war, or overcame extraordinary life circumstances. Whatever it is, they feel a responsibility to share that story with the world. These stories usually manifest into memoirs, though the Storyteller might also dabble in fiction.
You might be a Storyteller if:
- You’ve been told at least once, “You should write a book about that.”
- People are interested to hear your stories from your past
- You wrote in journals or still write in journals about your experiences
7. The Closet Writer
The Closet Writer will never refer to themselves as a writer. In fact, many of the people in their life might not even know they write at all.
Though they often have great ideas and sharp writing skills, they’re too shy to share their work with others. And heaven forbid someone should ever see their unedited drafts!
Unfortunately, some of their best ideas will follow them to the grave, unless a friend miraculously stumbles across their secret manuscripts.
You might be a Closet Writer if:
- You stash your notebooks and Word files in secret spots
- Your heart races at the thought of anyone reading your work
- Only those closest to you (if anyone) knows that you write
8. The Introverted Writer
The Introverted Writer is not too far off from the Closet Writer, but their shyness isn’t centered around the fact that they write.
Instead, the Introverted Writer is just that—an introvert. You can find them sitting alone, hunched over their laptop in a coffee shop. They prefer the company of notepads and fresh Word documents over people, and that’s perfectly all right.
You might be an Introverted Writer if:
- You prefer the company of books and notepads to people
- You do your best work when left alone
- You’re shy about sharing your work
9. The Idea Machine
The Idea Machine can find inspiration anywhere and at any moment. That’s why it’s imperative that they always carry a small notepad or keep sticky notes handy—if they don’t keep track of all those ideas, most of them will never see the light of day.
It’s rare to come across an Idea Machine with writer’s block, at least in the early stages of writing. Unfortunately, though, many of those ideas are never brought to fruition because this type of writer is easily distracted by the next flashing lightbulb.
You might be an Idea Machine if:
- You can find inspiration in everyday things
- You often make up stories about the people you encounter
- Your desk is covered with sticky notes
10. The Escapist
The Escapist writes to leave their “real” world behind, if only for a while.
Perhaps they have a job that’s not quite fulfilling, or they’re not satisfied with their relationships—but whatever ails them, writing gives them a channel to another life, a path to freedom.
The Escapist may or may not be a Closet Writer, and they might not even like being a full-time writer if given the chance—but as long as they’ve got a pen in their hand, they’ll happily get lost in another world (hopefully one that we’ll get to enjoy as readers).
You might be an Escapist if:
- You’re a frequent daydreamer
- You feel your best when you’re writing
- You fantasize about quitting your day job and writing full-time
11. The Dabbler
The Dabbler is a joker of all trades. They’ve tried just about every type of writing you can imagine, from nonfiction self-help guides to romance novels.
Just try putting these writers in a box—they won’t stand for it!
You might be a Dabbler if:
- You have many interests
- You don’t mind (and actually enjoy) trying new things
- You adapt easily
- You learn quickly
Find Your Writing Style
Whatever your style, don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Learn to use your strengths to your advantage, and identify areas that might be holding back your potential.
Most importantly, find your writing motivation and keep doing what you love in whichever way works best for you. If you feel ready to share your work with the world, check out our ultimate guide to book publishing.
Which type of writer are you? Is your style missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below!