Today marks the beginning of a new series: Enneagram Authors! Since I’m an author and I find the enneagram system interesting, I was curious if enneagram type has any bearing on the writing process, so I decided to reach out to authors of each enneagram type and interview them on what writing is like for them! So for each of the next nine weeks I’ll be interviewing a different author of a different personality type, starting, obviously, with the Type 1.
About the 1
I’m not the best at summarizing the types, so I’ll be borrowing descriptions from The Enneagram Institute. (Each description will be linked back to the original page.)
Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.
Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
For the Type 1, I had the privilege of interviewing Kristianne Hassman!
Interview with Kristianne
Hi, Kristianne! Can you share a little bit about yourself and what you write?
Besides being a writer, I’m also a missionary kid, and I’ve lived almost my entire life in Africa. I’ve lived in South Africa for the past seven years, and I love experiencing the diverse cultures and people here and using that in my stories. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was very young. I think I wrote my first story when I was seven. It was about a little girl named Ogla who got saved when a missionary girl told her about the gospel. (What can I say? I was writing about my own experience!) Novels are my first love—although I occasionally write short stories and poetry—and my favorite genres to write are YA fantasy and historical fiction.
What is your enneagram type, and how do you feel about it?
I am a type 1, otherwise known as the Perfectionist. I kind of have mixed feelings about my type. I can see where I have perfectionist tendencies, but I don’t think that’s the defining characteristic of my personality. I’d rather think of myself as a type 4 (Creative Individualist). But whether my results are accurate or not, the enneagram has definitely helped me recognize areas of weakness I need to grow in, so I am grateful for that.
Do you find that your enneagram type impacts your writing process? How so, or why not?
Oh, definitely. My perfectionism comes out very strongly in my writing. I really hate writing first drafts because they feel so, well . . . rough. I like to edit as I go along, and I can rework a sentence or a scene dozens of times before I’m happy with it. I also have a strong inner critic that constantly pushes me to do better—which can be both a blessing and a curse! I struggle with self-doubt a lot, which sometimes keeps me from writing. And because I’m such a perfectionist, it takes a while before I’m ready for anyone—including my family and friends—to read my writing. So yes, my personality type plays a big role in how I approach the writing process.
What strengths do you find in your writing or process that tie in with your enneagram type?
If you’re going to succeed in your writing career, you have to be willing to constantly learn and improve your craft. One big strength of my type is that I have a strong inner critic constantly pushing me to improve. I love learning, and I’m not afraid to work hard. I either put all in or nothing at all. So if I believe in a story enough, I will embrace it wholeheartedly and put in the time and work to make it happen.
What weaknesses do you find in your writing or process that tie in with your enneagram type?
While my type definitely pushes me to do my best, it can also hinder me. My desire for perfection can cause me to procrastinate and avoid writing for days on end. Fear of what people will think can keep me from sharing my work or asking for help. I try to do as much editing as I possibly can before showing other people. And because I already have a strong inner critic, I tend to take even constructive criticism personally. Sometimes I can spend days worrying over what someone’s said about my writing, even if it was helpful.
Do you think your type impacts how you create characters?
Oh yes! I tend to create characters with my own personality type or similar type (Maybe I should change that . . .) My protagonists especially are often quiet, responsible and hardworking people who strive to please those around them. I have a hard time writing characters who are flighty and have no thought of how their actions affect others.
Do you think it impacts how you worldbuild?
Maybe a little. I do like all my information to be arranged in neat lists and categories. I plan everything in my world down to the last detail (which can be frustrating sometimes because it feels like it’s never quite complete). I also stress a lot over things like names, wanting them to be both aesthetically pleasing and make sense in the story. But usually, worldbuilding is one area I allow myself a little more freedom to just create.
Do you think it impacts how you outline?
Definitely. I’m a very organized and detail-oriented person, so I must have an outline before I can start writing. My outlines can be long and very detailed, but I’m also not afraid to branch off a little if an aspect of the outline isn’t working. But even if it’s just a general outline, I still need a plan before I start. Else I feel like I don’t have a concrete goal to work toward.
Do you think it impacts your prose or writing style?
Hmm, I haven’t really thought about it before. Honestly, I don’t think too much. In the past, I tended to be more descriptive and use big words. But lately, I’ve experimented with the shorter, choppier style too. Usually, I just go with whatever sounds best to me, whether it’s technically grammatically correct or not.
Do you find that many of your protagonists are a similar type to yours, or very different?
As I said before, my protagonists are often very similar to me because it’s easiest for me to write about my type. If I write a character who is completely different from me, I really have to dig into his personality and background to wrap my head around him. But yes, when a character first pops into my head, he’s usually a lot like me.
If you have a strong wing, how does it impact your writing process, if at all?
My strongest wing is type 9 (the Peacemaker). I can’t think of any big ways it really affects my writing, except maybe that my desire to avoid conflict keeps me from sharing my work very often. But besides that, I don’t think it affects my writing process all that much.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process (plotting, writing, editing)?
Plotting is probably my most favorite, although I also enjoy editing—to an extent! I love exploring an idea, planning it out, and working out plot problems. My least favorite part is the actual writing. Because the story never comes out exactly how I imagined it in my head, my perfectionist self gets so frustrated.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the writing craft (setting, characters, theme, plot, prose, etc.)?
Is it okay for me to love all of them? I enjoy each of these aspects in one way or another, although characters are my absolute favorite. I especially love coming up with unique backstories and names to go along with each character. I could browse name generators and baby name books for hours looking for the right name! As for my least favorite aspect, I would probably have to go with prose. It takes a lot of work to come up with an interesting way to say something that flows well and makes sense.
Do you have any writing “rituals” (drinking tea, lighting a candle, putting on music) to get you in the mood to write?
Before I start writing, I like to look at my Pinterest boards of my story to get me in the mood. Sometimes I put on instrumental background music and occasionally epic music for certain scenes. But music also distracts me sometimes, so usually I’m good with just a quiet, secluded corner, a comfy chair, and a little bit of lamplight or candlelight.
What most inspires you to write?
Reading great stories written by other people! It was reading wonderfully deep and beautiful stories that first fired my imagination and made me want to be a writer. So whenever I finish an amazing book, read a well-crafted poem, or watch a gripping movie, it inspires me to give other people that same experience.
What is your reason for writing?
When I was younger, I read books to escape people and the pressures around me. In books, I could be myself. In books, I could forget my insecurities, my fears, and later—as I became a teenager—the painfulness of maturing into an adult while still being considered a child. I write to give teens that same escape. I write to remind them that God meets them where they are. Jesus accepts every one of us, along with all our imperfections. We are deeply and completely loved, no matter our faults. And yet, I also write to inspire teens that they can become better people, they can change the world, and they can make a difference, though they may feel inadequate. Most of all, I write to give hope in a dark and suffering world.
Anything else you want to share?
To those who are perfectionists like me: I just want to encourage you to never give up. There will be many times when you feel discouraged, like nothing you ever write will be good enough, but keep writing. Every day you show up and write, you’re improving. Growing. Learning. Getting closer and closer toward your goal of becoming a great writer. Though your words may be imperfect, they are inspiring someone somewhere. So don’t stop. Keep at it, even when your inner critic is screaming in your ear. Even when you feel crippled by self-doubt. Your efforts do count for something, even if it feels like they fall short. God will be your strength, if you’ll only lean on Him. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26).
Kristianne Hassman is a seventeen-year-old Christian author who is slightly obsessed with books, fantasy worlds, and personality types. A missionary kid with a strong love for traveling, she writes stories about girls conquering their fears and changing the world. She currently lives in the beautiful country of South Africa with her parents, four younger siblings, and German shepherd dog. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing her violin or more recently, blogging at WhimsicalWanderings.com. You can also connect with her on Instagram and Pinterest.