Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Write Personality

by Shona Neff

Our individual personalities impact the way we flow through life. However, did you know that they also influence the way we write? Each of the four personality types (sanguine, choleric, melancholy, and phlegmatic) affects the way we craft our words as well as the way we approach writing. What is your write personality?


Phlegmatic personalities resemble a slow moving river. They naturally make everyone around them feel comfortable, and they have the most stabilizing influence of all the personality types. These wonderful characteristics flow easily into the world of writing. 

Phlegmatic individuals are non-offensive in their approach to life so they are naturally diplomatic when tackling tricky topics. There is a practicality in their writing which appeals to broad audiences. However, a phlegmatic writer’s low-keyed demeanor sometimes translates into a dull read. These capable writers need to incorporate descriptive words and phrases into their stories in order to add a spark of interest.

When actually crafting a piece, phlegmatic writers are well suited to the quiet, solitary environment of their offices. However, because they are notorious procrastinators, they need to allow plenty of time to meet deadlines.


Melancholy people are deep thinkers and the most sensitive of all the personalities. They mirror a still lake . . . tranquil on the surface, with deep running waters. As lovers of beauty, these natural word crafters often touch hearts like no others. Their deep thinking essence allows them to whisk readers away to unexpected locations and see simple concepts in new and profound ways.

Many melancholy personalities strive for perfection; this compels them to dissect every detail when writing. This trait, when taken to the extreme, sometimes bogs readers down in a literary quicksand of unnecessary nuances. To overcome this tendency, these detail-oriented writers need to determine which items are crucial to a piece and which ones can be eliminated.

As the embodiment of quality and high standards, the melancholy writer sometimes stifles his or her creativity by sweating over too many details. It isn’t always easy, but these masterful word smiths shine when they can relax their natural tendency for each word or phrase to represent perfection. They also need to allow plenty of time to finish any projects with a deadline because they don’t work well under pressure.


The choleric personalities of the world tend to be the most intense. Everything about them screams, POWER. Being in the presence of this powerful personality is like a wild ride on river rapids! They are quick thinkers and always on a mission.  These driven individuals often make the casual observer tired because of their ability to accomplish so much in short spurts of time.

As writers, they bring intensity to any page. They don’t generally write touchy feely pieces, but gravitate toward practical and active topics. Their “brick-between-the-eyes” style ignites choleric readers, but may be too blunt for others. Choleric writers reach a broader audience when they tone down their intense approach to writing.

They are quick thinkers and work well under pressure.  Although I don’t advocate any writer wait until the last minute to meet a deadline, this personality can generally pull off a last-minute article better than  a phlegmatic, melancholy, or sanguine writer.


Sanguine personalities are like the dancing waters of a fancy fountain. They are spontaneous, fun-loving, and extremely creative. These lively traits make for an entertaining story teller. It is not unusual for sanguine writers to have heads bursting with ideas ready to splash all over the page.

A sanguine writer’s creative juices flow like a fast-moving river. Their words are as lively as their exuberant demeanor. This sometimes leads them to over exaggerate some of their non-fiction stories, but gives them an edge when it comes to fiction. Writing is the perfect place for sanguine daydreams to become reality.

When it comes to completing an article or manuscript, the sanguine writer sometimes struggles. Putting in the long hours and copious amounts of energy required for polishing is not always easy for this fun-loving personality; they are easily distracted by entertaining things like people and socializing. These activities do not always promote good writing habits in a sanguine writer’s world.

There is no right or wrong personality when it comes to writing. However, if you understand your “write” personality, it will assist in as you navigate the creative waters of success.

Shona loves to encourage and equip people. She is a CLASS (Christian Leaders, Author, and Speaker Seminars) Certified Personality Trainer and blogs regularly about The Personalities at

She is co-founder of StepUP Writing and Speaking Services which offers a variety of services to equip and encourage writers and speakers wanting to enter the Christian communication market.
Shona lives in northern New Mexico with her husband and trio of terriers. She is a new member of the empty nester’s club, but loves it when her college-age sons come home to visit.

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