Monday, July 21, 2008

Yet Another Moment of Self-Doubt

My friend recently loaned me a book called MotherStyles. It's a book about, well, mothering styles and is based on the Meyers-Briggs personality testing. I've never actually done the Meyers-Briggs, because it costs money and you know...

Anyway, according to this book I am an ENTP. That means Extravert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving. Those all sound like high-falutin' words, but really it just means that I like to be around people; I don't enjoy the normal day-to-day aspects of living; I'm not very emotional and I don't do schedules and routines very well.

Yeah, that's pretty much me.

It has a bearing on the rest of the post, really, but it'll take a bit to get there.

I'm also reading a book called If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. It's a very old book, actually, and very encouraging to read. She talks repeatedly, though, about spending time (a lot of time. Hours.) walking and thinking before you even sit down to write. She also says that when you do sit down at your typewriter (computer) you should be willing to again sit for hours if necessary while you let your ideas develop slowly.

Well, that's all well and good, but there are so very, very many things in my life that I think, “If I just had a little time to myself I could do that.” Unfortunately, the little bit of time that I can carve out has already been claimed. These are all the things that my conscience demands I do with my “free time”.

Scripture reading
Bible Study
Play with my children
Provide meals, clothes, etc. for my children
Clean the house (which we all know encompasses more than a few hours worth of effort.)
and now, write. No, walk leisurely and then stare at my computer screen for hours, and then write.

Ms. Ueland's suggestion, of course, is that I put the writing at the top of that list. Obviously I can't do that. Every single one of those things has to come first. Not to mention all the other bits of life. Church commitments, grocery shopping etc. etc. etc. etc.

Instead of getting all these admittedly worthwhile things done, and by done I mean satisfactorily, I pick at each of them and get just enough accomplished to realize how really far behind I am.

So here's my question. If I were an ISFJ, like my friend, would I have no trouble scheduling all those things in there? Is it just my personality type that is messing with my ability to accomplish anything, or is it that I'm a lazy undisciplined slob?


Attolia said...

For the record, I love Myers-Briggs (if you didn't know that already :) and I'm an INTJ. I'm very nearly as far J as you can get, so ideally I should be an awesome scheduler...but I have the same problem you do. Lots of things to do and no time to do them some things get done poorly, and others not at all. So I don't think it's that you're a bad scheduler, I think there's just not enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do. This is why I wish I didn't need sleep...think of all the things that could be done with 8 extra hours!

(And there's loads of free MBTI tests and information online, btw. No need to spend money taking the "official" one. :)

Qtpies7 said...

There is no personality type when you have children under 5. You are just a survivor. Period.
One day the kids will be in school, and hopefully you will not be working and can carve out a few hours a week for writing. But you do have to carve them out. Right now something would have to give, and that is not an easy choice.

Diane Eble said...

Oh, I so relate, as an INFP mom (and you'll notice, my name is on the cover of MotherStyles; I helped Janet write it). My children are now 13 and 17, and I have to say that motherhood simply stretches you in new ways, and you have to be true to yourself.

By the way, I'm also a believer and a writing/publishing coach/consultant, so you might be interested in my site at and I suggest you start fitting writing into your life in 10-15 minute segments, whenever you can. Naptime should be "your time," at least a few minutes of it. Or Sesame Street time-whatever. Maybe, since you're an E, get a writing buddy who's a mom so you're "in it together."

During these few minutes, don't worry about what you write. That's not the point. Getting used to "writing on cue" and fitting it into your schedule is. This was one of the exercises that turned me into a writer (I've published 11books and am pretty prolific now with all kinds of writing.)

Hang in there! And enjoy your children. The time truly does fly, though I know some days with young children do drag!--Diane Eble

Lilibeth said...

Well this INTJ could get a lot more accomplished too. I think it's really a problem of inertia...getting started. Once I sit down and make myself write, it comes easily. You're doing quite a bit of writing with the blog though and even that type of writing is profitable.Think of it as training.

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

I'm an ENFJ or ESFJ, so I like schedules, but I would rather be with people than get any work done!

The MBTI is really valuable if you know your type and your preferences for work - then you can work to overcome your weaker areas. I used this a lot when I was in full-time ministry. (also works well when trying to figure other people out!)

Mike said...

I think you can write your own book. Other will read and say, "Wow." And they will doubt their own skills because of what they've read.


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aftergrace said...

I think it's a matter of daily survival with little ones, don't worry about a schedule for anything. You're a mom, it's okay to be a little off kilter.