Conquering My Writer’s Block Using the MBTI® assessment – by Jack Powers
Written by: Jack Powers (JP), Education Inside Sales Representative at CPP, Inc.
Staring at a blank page is intimidating, especially when you’re expected to compose something piquant and intelligent. Writing my first entry for CPP’s Education Blog reminds me of my days as an undergraduate comparative literature major when I would do exactly what I’ve been doing for the last twenty minutes: staring at the blank page, wondering how to fill it without resorting to a thirteen-point Courier font. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy writing. More accurately, I enjoy writing the body of an essay, but writing the opening paragraph of an essay always presented a problem for me. I would waste too much time worrying about a clever first sentence. I would have so many lofty phrases and ideas floating around in my head that I didn’t know which one to choose. After conquering that ordeal, I would then carefully craft my grandiloquent thesis. Invariably I would have to amend this overwrought thesis or abandon it altogether because, upon revision, I would find that my arguments did not support it. The alternative thesis would never resonate the way the original had; what’s worse, by the time I realized my original thesis no longer worked, I had to come up with something quickly because by that time, the final, polished version of the essay would usually be due in class in about fifteen minutes (and I probably hadn’t even left for campus yet — did I mention that I tend to procrastinate?).
How frustrating! I knew I should start with the body of the essay, and that the thesis should arrive organically from the points I argued. So why didn’t I just start with the body? My knowledge of MBTI® type would have helped me to understand. No, I do not have a preference for Sensing, which might explain somebody’s inclination to proceed linearly from writing the opening, then the body, and finally the conclusion. In fact, I have a preference for iNtuition. I thought the opening paragraph was the most important, since a writer only has one opportunity with this opening paragraph to captivate the audience. In looking back, I now see that writing papers was an experience that placed me “In the Grip.” Knowledge of my type would have helped me realize that I was exaggerating my dominant function, Extraverted iNtuition (Ne). Armed with that knowledge, I could have practiced one of the many strategies I have learned while reading more about my type. Do you have students who are struggling with writing papers? Encourage them to visit the advising center on your campus and take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment. CPP publishes many materials to help students throughout the span of their academic career and beyond. In addition to In the Grip, the book about stress and type, I also recommend Introduction to Type® and Learning as well as Introduction to Type® in College. Don’t wait too long – the sooner your students possess this gift of self-awareness, the sooner they’ll be able to use that knowledge to their advantage, and the sooner they’ll be better at dealing with stress, whether it’s studying for an exam or writing that daunting term paper.