About the 4
Description from The Enneagram Institute
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
- Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
- Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an
For the 4, I loved having the chance to interview author and writing coach Abigail Hays!
Interview with Abigail
Hi, Abigail. Can you share a little bit about yourself and what you write?
My name is Abigail Hays, and I’m a Creative Writing Mentor and Science Fiction Author. I’m an Enneagram Type Four, the “Romantic Individualist.” My number says that I, and others like me, really strive to make a difference in the world, and that we are afraid of failing to create an identity for ourselves. Because of this fear, we can be susceptible to burnout trying to do everything that we want to. Healthy Fours are capable of analyzing their situations, then deciding how to prioritize their lives. These attributes help me continue to push myself to do better by structuring my life around my strengths and capabilities.
What is your enneagram type, and how do you feel about it?
As a Four, I spend a lot of time in my head, and I think about everything. I have an intense desire to explore the lesser known and understand it. I am a puzzle-solver by nature, and I use this to achieve various ends with writing and mentoring. I enjoy the process of breaking ideas down and understanding them, and being able to share them with others.
Mentoring people from all over the Enneagram scale forces me to continually expand my horizons to accommodate for what’s going to work best for my students, and I appreciate every single number. I just couldn’t be them, and am perfectly content with being a Four.
Do you find that your enneagram type impacts your writing process? How so, or why not?
One disadvantage of being a Four is that my view on something may not resonate with others, may give people the opposite idea that I intended, or simply isn’t understandable based on their own lives and experiences. The fear of being unable to communicate my exact meaning through prose is directly related to the core fear of the Type Four, (lacking a sense of identity). Those are certainly awkward situations, but I do make a point to use those times to challenge myself and those around me. Making a point of saying things more clearly, better emphasis on a certain point, or simply reevaluating my own view on something. I know that those will, in some way, help me grow as an author, and I want to make the most of that.
What strengths do you find in your writing or process that tie in with your enneagram type?
“Expressive and Dramatic” are two of my number’s prescribed antics, and I have to say that they’re pretty accurate! Even as I’m sitting here typing this out, I’m making faces like I would were I speaking to you in person! When we’re face to face, you can hear the enthusiasm in my voice, and I do my best to make you smile.
What weaknesses do you find in your writing or process that tie in with your enneagram type?
As an Author, my writing is impacted both positively and negatively by my Enneagram Type. I recognize the signs of perfectionism and other common author struggles, and am able to talk about why they occur and how to get around them, but I can also harbor perfectionistic views towards my own creations because my writing isn’t original or “creative enough.” Yet as I’ve grown older, my inward desire to stand out has kept me constantly searching for unique answers to problems, which is definitely a benefit for my writing. This likewise impacts my Mentorship students, because I’m able to teach them how to bring out the most unique and creative elements in their writing.
Do you think your type impacts how you build worlds or characters?
My type makes me very empathetic, which greatly impacts how I view characters and students. I love working with characters that bend the rules of their stereotypes, and likewise, showing other authors how to make their characters do the same. I handle the setting and worldbuilding elements of stories in a similar fashion, latching onto a certain angle or detail that isn’t as commonly touched on, and looking for ways that it’s enhanced through the rest of the scene or book (or how I can emphasize it in my own writing).
Do you think it impacts your prose or writing style?
My prose and writing style are interestingly affected by my personality, and as a pretty outgoing Four, my style changes quite a bit the more I live and learn. I personally enjoy the idea of my developing prose and style being a life-long journey. I’m also someone who hates repetition, both in life and in writing. After all, a good story flows: it shouldn’t repeat things like it’s on a spin cycle. (That’s for homework textbooks only! Just kidding.) In my own life, I need the regular things in my life to continually change. If they don’t, I get bored. I find people who take comfort in simple, repetitive lifestyles very interesting, as that’s something I cannot do myself. I have to continually be thinking through new ideas, because that way, I’m constantly gaining knowledge.
Do you find that many of your protagonists are a similar type to yours, or very different?
Protagonists are always tricky to create in my case, primarily because it’s very hard for me not to just insert myself in their places. (I do this for preexisting books and movies, too, where I will just create a character in my head for myself and imagine what things would be like if I was there and how they would change. I’ve been told most authors don’t actually do this, which is hilarious to me!) The problem is that there’s still a lot about me that I probably couldn’t put into words well enough for them to be an acceptable Main Character. It’s a fascinating concept to me, as I often have to force myself to take on protagonists who are distinctly different from me in some way. Then it feels like I’m understanding them, and not just trying to wrap my head around writing “myself.”
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process (plotting, writing, editing)?
I love plotting and revision most out of the book-writing process, so delving into mentoring other aspiring authors felt natural. Oddly enough, I don’t enjoy the drafting process as much, because as a Type Four, I am more fascinated by ruminating on new ideas and discovering exciting possibilities than I am actually excited about committing to the act of writing out those fantastic ideas onto paper. I love thinking things through, so everything from brainstorming and plotting to editing, revising and teaching are all things about fiction writing that I enjoy.
Do you have any writing “rituals” (drinking tea, lighting a candle, putting on music) to get you in the mood to write?
As someone who is not keen on routine, I do not have any writing “rituals” in my life. Many authors I know like having a certain snack or drink while they write, or they set up their environment by lighting candles or listening to certain music. But everything I do is random in an effort to avoid becoming so familiar with the setting that I get distracted. Even the place that I sit and write from can change pretty drastically depending on what I’m feeling like that day – changing up my environment is a critical part of avoiding restlessness. I do need complete silence if I’m going to make progress, though, so I do not work on my books in public places. However I don’t feel like that’s a Four-specific ideology.
What most inspires you to write, and what is your reason for writing?
In my own reading adventures, I find myself getting enraptured with the details of a book: a certain aspect of this character, or an element to this use of worldbuilding, or this challenging thought in the theme. I hate stereotyped cliches of almost any caliber, and avoid them at all costs. (Shocking, I know.) I believe my reasons for writing and my sources of inspiration are relatively straightforward when you consider the name of my Enneagram type, but to reiterate: I love pulling out the most unique aspects of life. I love working with “the possible,” or the “what if.” I love asking, “how would this actually work?” and I enjoy challenging others who share my love for quality in writing to do the same.
My version of “impacting the world” is my helping others find ways to get around the notorious obstacles of author life, no matter where they’re coming from. Whether that’s through my mentoring or my books. And now, you’re part of it, too! Thank you for taking time to get to know me and learn about my writing process!
Anything else you want to share?
If you empathize as a fellow Enneagram Type Four, or simply want to hear more about my own writing or mentorship program, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, join the Facebook group below, or message me on R.M. Archer’s Discord server. We’ll see you there!