Should I Become a Writer?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 19, 2013

For many people a career choice is based on deliberate calculation. But with writers the situation is entirely different. Writers have an irresistible itch that they just have to scratch, and when they make that fateful decision to invoke the alchemical energies of the written word to help them pay the bills it is not so much a choice as it is a response to an imperative demand.

A 17th century poet once advised his readers to “ask not for whom the bell tolls” because “it tolls for thee.” This is really how it is for writers; the bell that calls them to creative enterprise is tolling incessantly, and happiness and fulfillment are not likely to be found unless they answer that insistent summons. If you only think you want to be a writer you may not really want it at all, but if you feel like you just have to write - and that to not do so would be a fate worse than death - then you would be foolish to ignore the ringing chimes that are calling you into action.

But should you write only as a hobby or as a part-time vocation – blogging, journaling, dabbling in poetry, writing the occasional short story, etc. – or should you become a writer by profession, turning your love of the written word into a full-time gig? This is the important question that you must answer before you proceed, as you will ultimately have to decide for yourself just how deep your passion for writing runs. It is the strength of your inherent personality characteristics that should be the determining factor here, and that is why you will need to complete a very honest self-assessment before you commit yourself to a career in writing.

When writing about it allows you to experience life more fully creativity is clearly your primary interest area. As a natural writer it is simply not enough for you to absorb ideas; you feel a powerful need to rework and reconfigure them into new and unprecedented combinations, the likes of which have never been produced by anyone else before. And if you are a Creator with a capital ‘C’, meaning that your creative instincts are like a well that never runs dry and your need to express new ideas or invent unique fictional characters never fades, you may indeed have the inner drive and inspiration required to make it big in the writing biz.

By far the most important personality trait for someone who loves creating is Openness. People with oodles of Openness are sharply observant, incorrigibly curious and always attracted to novelty, and these are characteristics that successful writers never lack. For someone who is overflowing with Openness the world is an endlessly interesting place, and if she is also fortunate enough to possess a creative soul the capacity to produce a masterpiece may not be beyond her reach. We are not necessarily talking about a work of written genius here, of course; creators can be painters, sculptors, composers, craftsmen or inventors just as easily as they can be writers. But those who are enraptured by the power of the pen are a special breed, and anyone who belongs to that club will know exactly what they need to do to indulge and nurture their creative inclinations.

Serious writers need to be disciplined and practice their craft on a regular basis. This requires the presence of the personality trait known as Conscientiousness, and for writers who plan to make their passion a career they must be conscientious enough to keep working as steadily and diligently as possible. But too much Conscientiousness can actually be like a straightjacket for a professional wordsmith, and that is why your regular working habits should be seen as more of a guideline than a rule. Bursts of frenetic inspiration and creative lulls both define the existence of a writer, and while consistent production is nice you will have to be versatile enough in your working style to adjust to the unpredictable whims of your muse.

So a modest level of Conscientiousness works best for the writer, and we can say the same about the personality trait of Extraversion. Writing can be a solitary and lonely affair, so if you score in the low-to-moderate range in Extraversion you may actually enjoy those times when it becomes necessary to retreat to your own quiet oasis to focus completely on the task at hand. As a writer you need to be a people person to some extent because how else would you understand the human condition well enough to comment on it. But you also have to be comfortable in your own skin and have the intestinal fortitude to handle the isolation and separation that your activity of choice often dictates.

A career assessment exam should never be used to veto anyone’s dreams. If your inner voice is telling you that you must write you should do so regardless of how you score on our Career Surveyor , or on any other such test you might decide to take. Nevertheless detailed insight into your personality traits and interest areas can be really useful in helping you identify your strengths as well as any characteristics that might hinder your advancement as you practice the craft you love.

Whether you pursue writing part-time or full-time, your level of success will rise or fall based on the intensity of your commitment, and the more you know about your true nature the more prepared you will be to make any adjustments that might be necessary to turn your wildest dreams into a living, breathing reality. Every writer needs an individualized plan if they hope to achieve remarkable things, and our Career Surveyor is designed to help you create a perfect blueprint for achievement.


Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here .

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