Some people are very J. Myers-Briggs, I’m talking. J is for Judging, but not for judgmental, if you’re not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, a type of personality assessment.
J types would rather make a decision — any decision — rather than leave things hanging. P types, which stands for Perceiving, would rather get more information first. Even if they already have a lot of information, more is surely good, right? Just to be sure. Because a better option might come along, or a better decision might become clear.
J types tend to get impatient with P types, whom they see as never getting anything done. P types might point out that J types, in their determination to get stuff done, often make hasty decisions that create more work in the long run, because things have to be undone or redone.
Both tendencies have their strengths and weaknesses. But one downside of the Perceiving tendency is that, without a strong external deadline, things can be put off indefinitely.
You won’t be surprised to learn I’m a P, though I can function as a J when I have to. “Have to” being the operative term there. One of my challenges in daily life is to find better balance between P-ness (oh no I didn’t) and J-ness. The writing life doesn’t usually contain a lot of strong external deadlines, except on those occasions when they’re imposed by a publisher or editor (one advantage of traditional publishing for P types).
And part of writing is that the story has a life of its own, and can go off in unexpected directions. Whole sections, or entire books, can need to be rewritten if the characters reveal something about themselves that wasn’t clear at the outset. Or external factors can come into play. For instance, my WIP has a protagonist who was a coroner named Megan. Guess what? There’s a new show that just premiered last weekend that features a coroner named Megan. Whoops! Time for me to do some tinkering.
I set deadlines, but don’t always meet them because of the dynamics of the story. But daily goals are still very useful. My hope is that as I get more settled into my writing life, I’ll find a pattern that works for me, that lets me be consistently productive. For me, that will be freedom. Freedom to write, freedom from anxiety and guilt if I’m not getting enough done, freedom to enjoy my life and know that I’m doing well.
Where do you fall on the P-to-J spectrum? Are you more of a decider, or more of a wait-and-see person? And whatever you do in your life, reading or writing or parenting or 9-to-5-ing, how you do bring structure to your life? Where’s the balance that brings you that sense of freedom?