Tuesday, 17 April 2012

On Owning Yourself

In my other life, I just did a course on leadership style and preferences.  We were asked to choose four values each from a number of pink laminated cards on the table. 

This was HARD.  Just four?

Here is what I chose:

  • Respect (to me this included human rights and self worth)
  • Knowledge / Discovery / Insight
  • Responsibility (to me this included personal honesty)
  • Justice / Social Order

Then we did a Myers Briggs thingummy.  As it transpires I am an ENTP: "Energetic, bash, witty, original, ENTPs love being with people, discussing, arguing and taking part to the full."  Ok, I can live with that.

One famous ENTP - we have a lot in common

We had a lovely chat about congruenceCongruence - is your behaviour, how you lead and manage and the environment in which you are working in sync with your values?  Are you in tune with yourself?

And it got me thinking.

If this applies to leadership and management, and if it applies to personal life and relationships - does it apply to writing too?

I think it does.

You read a lot about writers 'finding their voice'.  I think that writers who have the strongest voices are not just skilled, they are congruent.  Their writing is in sync with their values. When I look at my two completed novels and think about the themes they explore they are to do with:

  • Self acceptance / Self worth
  • Respecting other people 
  • Taking personal responsibility
  • Personal honesty
  • Justice 

In the books which I didn't complete these themes didn't exist.  I was trying to write for a specific market, trying to think about what Harlequin would want or what might sell as a Nocturne Bite.  My writing wasn't merely unskilled, it was superficial. Even incongruent.  I wasn't pulling deep enough inside myself.

Now, that isn't to say that you can't write for those lines (or any market) and be congruent. Of course you can.  It just involves bringing all the elements together and that's an art I haven't yet mastered.

But my writing has become more authentic and my voice has grown stronger.  More and more I believe in what I write and it feels a little like transforming from being Pinocchio into a real boy. Or girl.  Whatever.

Thinking about that makes me happy.

And people, Alexander the Great was an ENTP.  I'm going to ruuuuuuuule the known world. Then die a sot.

But unlike Alexander, I don't use Sun In on my hair.

Want to know your preferences? You can take the test!


Jules said...

I honestly hadn't thought of "writer's voice" in quite that way but it IS true that writing which is thematically linked to the writer is more powerful and feels more honest.

Meg McNulty said...

Glad you agree!

littleindian said...

I look for what I think of as 'honesty' in a writing. If its something from the writers own heart, own experience(s) or beliefs.

If not, it comes through in the writing. Those are books/blogs I struggle to finish. If there is 'honesty' I can, and time allowing, will read through in one go. 'Unputdownability' is the acid test I will put the writing through.

Perhaps that is what you are referring to as 'congruency'.

Meg McNulty said...

Yes, where personal honesty filters through behaviour and actions (and writing). Agreed! And I too love where there's something real in a book - you can just TELL.

Sophie Moss said...

This is fascinating. I couldn't agree more. If your personal beliefs/values don't come out through your writing, why are you writing?