Advertising
Advertising

8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

Writers posses many positive attributes: creative imaginations, a rich inner life, on tap fantasy thinking, and storytelling. However, any writer will also tell you there are often aspects of their personality that many, or they themselves, deem negative: lying, and appearing too intense for some, are just two of those traits many associate with the negative condition. However, for writers, these so-called “bad” traits may actually provide good outcomes, while becoming essential to their craft.

It’s important to note that we are not talking about disorders here, rather those things we carry that do not, or will not, have a major or detrimental impact on our lives, health or well-being.

The following traits can be invaluable tools for most writers; spurring their creativity, offering substantial material, pulling them out ruts, or simply offering encouragement where there has been discouragement.

Advertising

Time to turn that frown upside down!

1. You’ve been described as too passionate.

Ever had someone call you “intense,” or describe you as “too much?” Some see you as crazy, a trouble maker, or an obsessed nut, while others are just plain scared of you. Though there are occasions where there may be a need to worry, for many writers, this intensity is part and parcel of what allows them to live outside the ‘norm’ and create amazing tales. Passion fuels intense creativity, arouses emotion, and gets the wheels turning. So although others may be turned-off by your intensity sometimes, for you, it’s a major, and necessary, turn-on.

2. You’re hasty.

For you, there’s no such thing as waiting, you’d rather get to it now. If it doesn’t work, no biggie, you’ll deal with that later. You love to jump in with both feet and don’t see any problem with that. If it’s too hot or too cold you’ll just jump out. As long as you’re not hurting yourself, or anyone else, it works for you. And as a writer, the added benefit of hastiness is that you tend to go with your gut and heart, tapping into your instincts with such focus. This leads to an impressive library of experience; some good and some bad, but all rich.

Advertising

Your impatience need not be a problem, but instead a way of exercising that innate need to “get it out,” which in writing terms, more often than not, translates into something great.

3. You’re neurotic.

Your jealousy, anxiety or loneliness can be parlayed into a ground breaking novel, a hard hitting screen play, or a poem that touches souls. Feeling frustrated? Hash it out as a character. Worried? Write a plot full of intense twists and turns. With the ability to pen your emotions into prose or poetry, you can transfer what could have potentially become something negative into positive energy, and watch the miracle unfold.

4. You’re nosy.

You’re a prolific a curtain twitcher; the typical nosy neighbor. But as a writer, you can actually treat this as research, or inspiration for your next project. Perhaps you know a little too much about your neighbors comings and goings, or are intrigued by the couple who just moved in down the street. Turn them into characters and watch them come to life. This curtain twitching behavior offers you rich material, and at a healthy and safe, non-stalker-y distance!

Advertising

The world is your museum and you use it to feel a connection to life, and to others. Plus those ideas of nosiness, intrigue and interest have given us some of the greatest novels (think flaneur, detective and thriller) which make for amazing reads.

5. You’re disorganized.

Disorganization appears to be synonymous with creative types. Clothes on the floor, books strewn out across your bed and your desk looks like a bomb went off in a library. Not good, right? Wrong. To a writer, even the most catastrophic looking room contains mountains of organisation and inspiration, somewhere in there.

So to the friend of said writer: don’t go tidying up their apartment or finally hanging those picture frames that have made their home on the floor. It may all be some sort of elaborate and useful set up that makes sense to them and their writing. Sure it could just mean they’re disgusting, but it’s more likely there’s some method to all that madness.

Advertising

6. You suck at multi-tasking.

Sure you can handle the odd multi-venture at once but, generally, this causes a great deal of unnecessary stress. Most writers need 100 percent focus when writing. Paying bills, sending emails, screaming kids and cooking all equate to one very detached and unmotivated writer. Stephen King operated a closed door system when writing, and JK Rowling wrote while her baby slept. Many writers attest to the benefits of getting away (sans internet/Wi-Fi), or writing whilst the world sleeps, like Jack Kerouack, who preferred to write from, “midnight till dawn”. The ability to live in that moment, write as though you are reading and block out any distractions is commendable, and essential.

Multitasking may very well be an asset within the workplace, after all being able to multi-task is like having super powers. But to a writer, multitasking is just another word for distraction.

7. You’re a liar.

As well as actors and lawyers, liars also make wonderful writers. The ability to write fictional tales, come up with elaborate plots and create new worlds requires next level invention skills. There is also the understanding that lying requires that side of you that removes itself from the actual and the factual, skews reality, deceives, improvises, and has folks believing it’s all real. Yes, we all know lying is bad, bad, bad, but for the writer, it’s all good, good, good!

8. You’ve been told to grow up

Sure you can be a well-functioning adult like the best of them. You go to work, you work out, you eat right, you’re responsible and mature, and have yourself together, but you also know how and when to tap into that beautiful little child within you, exhibiting that imagination, drive and enthusiasm of a kid. You reside happily within your childlike creativity; making up plots and characters and daydreaming about scenery and dialogue, all the while imagining the outcome of your tale. Sure, you can do the whole adult thing 24/7, but where’s the fun (or imagination!) in that?

Featured photo credit: No Title/Ermin Čeliković via albumarium.com

More by this author

Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

15 Tell-Tale Signs You’re an Old Soul and Think Differently 11 Signs That Your Job Is Not Suitable For You What Does It Mean to Be an Extroverted Introvert? Toxic Behaviors That Are Making You Unhappy (And You Don’t Even Notice) If You Want A Long-Lasting Relationship, You Should Keep Doing These 10 Things

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next