Which Writer Species Are You?

Hey Zoners, this is Kathryn Lilley. I’m trying something a little different today. I’m narrating my post to see how it feels. (Click embedded Player, above). Be sure to comment when you finish reading. Let me know whether you like having audio served with your post.

Here’s my thought about writers: we come in all different flavors and styles. I spent some time today pondering the variety of our styles. Here’s my list of some of the major categories and characteristics of the writer species:  

1) The Proud Pantster

Outlines? You don’t need stinkin’ outlines! To get inspired, you bite the heads off voles and spit them out. Sure, sometimes you have to perk up saggy spots in the pace by throwing in a dead body or two. But hey, that’s the way you roll.

2) The Reluctant Pantster
You always plan to outline, but never get around to it. You feel remorseful that your track record is so haphazard. You  promise to outline the next one.

3) The Writer-Terminator

You churn out an impressive  quota of words every day. No. Matter. What. You finish projects before deadline, and juggle multiple WIPs while breaking the minute mile on the treadmill. Your fellow writers admire you. And resent you.

4) The Unemployable-As-Anything-Else-But-Writer Writer

Thank goodness you can write pretty well, because basically, you have no other marketable skills. If it weren’t for words, you’d be pushing a shopping cart.

5) The Accidental Writer

You didn’t plan to spend your career writing fiction–it just seemed to happen. A series of lucky breaks meant that you didn’t have to work too hard to get published. You don’t like to talk about how you got started–people get annoyed. Besides, nowadays, you are definitely suffering

6) The Cranky Writer

You like having written, but you hate to write. Writing for you is like pulling out a fingernail. And then smearing the blood on the screen.  Your bottom line: Writing. Sucks.

7) The Harried Writer
You cram in your writing time between a million other duties: job, family, life. Your perennial dream is to go on a writer’s retreat. Or simply to take a nap.

8) The On-deadline Writer
See Harried Writer. See also Cranky Writer.

9) The Fantasy Island Writer

Words flow easily from you, in delicious, buttery prose. You landed your agent and a contract with a Big-6 publisher within weeks of finishing your first draft. You don’t understand what people mean when they say they’re “blocked.” When you write, you’re simply taking dictation from a band of leprechauns who conjure stories deep inside your brain.

Just one problem: You don’t actually exist.

So here’s my question for you Zoners out there: which writer style, or species hybrid, are you? Can you think of some style categories I missed? Let me know in the Comments.

Thanks for visiting TKZ.

40 thoughts on “Which Writer Species Are You?

  1. Nice! Good to put a voice to the face Kathryn! (usually it’s the other way around.)

    As for me, I’m somewhat of a Proud-Pantser Harried Terminator Accidental Fantasy Island Writer without a contract.

    And yeah, I have Leprechauns on my advisory committee. Fiili, Gnilli, Bofin, and Berthold. The first three are brother and cook awesome bacon sandwiches, which I can’t eat but smell really awesome anyway. And Berthold speaks Cantonese…although none of us know why…he’s never even been out of the crawl space as far as we know.

  2. Bertold is obviously keeping his powder dry until the day you need inspiration for a character who has to crawl his way to safety someplace near the Sino-Russian border! Thanks Basil!

  3. Oh, and my motley scribe species is an Accidental, Supremely Cranky and Reluctant Panster who Cannot Be Otherwise Employed. In my next life, I want to come back as a Terminator.who lives on Fantasy Island.

  4. Loved being read to! You have a pleasant voice, though, so that makes a difference. Makes me give more serious thought to audio books.

    I’m a happy puppy (2) most of the time, but I can turn cranky (6) when I get harried (7).

  5. Thank you Amanda! Basil gave me some tips for improving the audio next time. I think I held the ipad too close to my PC fan as I recorded it. It’ll get better!

  6. Kathryn, Great post. When I read some of the descriptions, I automatically put a face with them–especially one Kill Zone contributor whom we will not name but who is definitely a #3. I guess I’m a hybrid of numbers 5 (definitely) and 1(sort of).

  7. I thought this worked well. You did an excellent job reading the post. That said, I’m glad you also wrote it out. That way I was able to quickly go back and review the categories. I am definitely a #7.

    • I like having both too, Eric. As I mentioned on someone’s post a couple of days ago, I don’t like being in reading mode, and then shunted off to video-only. With some exceptions, such as wanting to see something dramatic that took place in the news. Or cat videos. :). I was basically describing myself in 2,4,5, and 6. So it’s a somewhat “curated” list!

  8. I fit into Harried the best, but I’d like to add a new one. Rabid Outliner: You outline so thoroughly the joy is sucked out of the writing process. I did that on my last WIP and had to give it up. Thanks for the fun post!

    • Rabid-Outliner–an excellent species, Sonja! I got so caught up describing the pantsters (being one, I guess) that I forgot the Outliner! Thank you for adding it!

  9. I’m defnitely a crank. Writing is torture but IF I can get in a zone, it morphs into a high like no other. I feel this way about running. I bitch and moan as I am tying on the shoes and my knees hurt for the first half mile then something kicks in and I love it. And I can’t stop.

    • Thanks Tom! It was fun making it. I think I’ll keep doing it if people don’t find it intrusive. I guess if someone doesn’t like the audio, they just won’t click the player.

  10. Oh, the Fantasy Island writer exists, but we hunt them down like the annoying scum they are and kill them before they have a chance to sign that multi-million dollar contract.

    Fortunately, most of them simply can’t keep their mouths shut while the contract is unsigned. All that contact with the leprechauns, probably.

  11. I’m a horrible mash-up of 4 to 9 depending on the day. I think my true category is a kind of procrastinator-terminator hybrid. I spend weeks writing by drips – pfaffing around researching and looking at The Daily Mail then suddenly, boom, I’m in crazy-turbo mood and crank it all out…then editing it, I go back to the procrastinator mode.

    • I love audio books if the reader is good. Wasn’t sure about adding sound to a blog, where people expect to read. It may be an opportunity to get a better sense of connection with a writer to hear their voice. I wouldn’t want voice-only in a blog, though.

  12. Kathryn, I could never be a Cranky Writer-I love to write. I do identify somewhat with #1-I’m not fond of outlining. I enjoyed the audio coinciding with the written post. Frances-www.penandpatience.wordpress.com

    • Thanks Francis! I am a bit of a cranky writer. It takes me so much damned work to get the words just right. But when I finally do, I immediately cheer up. 🙂

  13. I have to have a rough outline, with major plot points spelled out. The actual writing is more like agile development: sprints, with the customer (me) changing my mind as I go along. Still, the outline is good to fall back on.

    How come none of your types mentioned caffeine or alcohol? Something seems wrong there.

    It was nice to hear your voice. I wouldn’t want audio on a blog all the time. I prefer to read it. I’m not big on audio and video when I’m on the web. OTOH I did watch Neil Gaiman read all of Green Eggs and Ham.

  14. The audio complements your post and thanks for letting us know the app you used.
    I’m a 2-4-6: a reluctantly unemployable and cranky pantster. The longer I put off writing for the day/week, the crankier I become. Once I get going, though, my mood changes and all becomes right with the world. My pantster approach to writing works for me but I do so wish I could plan ahead like other writers – it might help avoid the what-the-heck-do-I-do-now syndrome when the story heads off into the briar patch.

  15. A haired pantser – but they’re designer pants, they have some idea of shape, flair, and look. On the upside – I’ve gotten quite good over the last couple of years of being able to just sit-down and do it when I get a few minutes and make the most of them.

  16. A panster seeking to reform for productivity and fruitfulness sake. Trouble is, the idea generator (aka brain) thwarts progress with a myriad plot rabbit holes and grand schemes. I liked your ‘blogspot voice’ better than the audio. I’d suggest a bit more practice so the audio comes across more warm and in-the-moment rather than reading from a script.

  17. Kathryn–
    Pantsers, underpantsers, whatever–BUT you have a very effective audio presence. So: why hire someone to narrate your books? With a little help in the studio, I bet you could do it yourself.

  18. On the audio, I like having it as an accompaniment to the words, but the words there so I can chose to read or do audio.

    I’m a #1 — a proud pantser, and also have been a #3. Though “churning out” implies that the quality isn’t there. I don’t churn anything out. I simply write.

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