Enneagram Types for Writers: Types 5-9

Welcome back to our journey through the Enneagram types for writers. Last week, we talked about how the complexities of the Enneagram provide valuable insights that can enhance self-awareness and empower your writing journey. The distinctive traits and varying gifts that define different writers’ approaches to the craft create a profound impact on the world of storytelling.

In Part 1, we navigated the intricate landscapes of Types One through Four, unraveling the unique strengths and weaknesses that shape each personality’s creative endeavors. Now, as we embark on the second part of this exploration, we will delve into the rich tapestry of Types Five through Nine. From the introspective Investigator to the harmonious Peacemaker, each type brings its own shadings to the palette of writerly personalities.

Please see last week’s post for a general overview of the Enneagram and comments about the information provided in this little series. For easy reference, here is a list of recommended resources if you want to go deeper with your study of the Enneagram (for yourself or for your characters). Please note that the books lead to Amazon affiliate links.

And now let’s get back to the Enneagram!

Type Five as a Writer: The Investigator

The Five’s Vice: Avarice

The Five’s Virtue: Non-Attachment

Core Lie the Five Believes: “It’s not okay to be comfortable in the world.”

Core Truth About the Five: “Your needs are not a problem.”

Also referred to as the Observer, Fives are characterized by a profound intellectual curiosity and a need to be understood. Fives seek knowledge as a way to navigate the complexities of the world, and they often retreat to their inner thoughts for a sense of security. These individuals are perceptive, analytical, and enjoy delving into intricate subjects.

While Fives excel in their capacity for deep thinking, they may struggle with social interactions and may withdraw when feeling overwhelmed. Their desire for autonomy and the accumulation of knowledge contributes to their strengths as thinkers and problem-solvers, making them valuable contributors to various fields.

Overcoming the Weaknesses of the Five as a Writer

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel (Amazon affiliate link)

The Five’s love of detailed information can send them down endless rabbit holes of researching, world-building, outlining, and revising. They may find that their favorite part of the writing process is the behind-the-scenes work that sets up the story, rather than the writing itself. This can also lead them to overvalue their research or world creation. Not only can this lead to tedious storytelling, it can also rob their stories of necessary subtext and subtlety in exchange for an overabundance of contextual information.

As one of the three head-based types (along with the Six and the Seven), Fives are drawn to the mental challenges of writing fiction but can sometimes struggle with the emotional awareness or vulnerability to create deeply realized characters. Their writing styles can sometimes come across as sparse and overly didactic. Due to their (often justified) emphasis on their own intelligence, they can sometimes hamper their ability to grow through a belief that they know better than others who might advise them or offer constructive criticism.

Enhancing the Strengths of the Five as a Writer

Fives are particularly well-suited to the introverted introspection of the writing life. They are usually well-read and contemplative and, as a result, extremely intelligent. Their aptitude for pattern recognition and problem-solving allows them to grasp the deeper principles of story theory and to craft well-structured and effective plots. They put their tremendous discipline for the finer details of research and plotting to good use in crafting realized stories of intellectual depth and nuance.

Eminently practical, Fives are able to handle criticism and the ups and downs of a writing career with relative equanimity. Particularly when healthy, they are rarely discouraged by other people’s negative opinions. They have the capacity to receive (and to offer) critiques as impersonal information to be accepted or rejected according to its accuracy and effectiveness, rather than its emotional charge. They can be among the most effortlessly generous with their time and energy in helping other writers, as they genuinely enjoy the nitty-gritty tasks that other types often find onerous.

Examples of Fives as Writers: Emily Dickinson, Agatha Christie, James Joyce, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, Cormac McCarthy, Vladamir Nabokov, Graham Greene, Patrick O’Brien, Ian McEwan, and Clive Barker

Type Six as a Writer: The Loyalist

The Six’s Vice: Fear

The Six’s Virtue: Courage

Core Lie the Six Believes: “It’s not okay to trust yourself.”

Core Truth About the Six: “You are safe.”

Also referred to as the Skeptic, Sixes are characterized by a fundamental need for security and guidance. Individuals of this type seek safety and support in their environments, often displaying loyalty to trusted institutions or authority figures. Sixes are diligent, responsible, and have a keen sense of potential risks.

While their cautious nature serves to protect them, it can also lead to anxiety and doubt. Sixes may wrestle with a fear of uncertainty and may rely on external structures for reassurance. Despite their inner conflicts, they contribute a sense of responsibility and thoroughness to group dynamics, acting as reliable team members.

Overcoming the Weaknesses of the Six as a Writer

The Six’s core “vice” is fear, which generally manifests as a blanket anxiety that requires them to check and re-check their best options. As writers, this can lead to chronic indecision and uncertainty about everything from signing with the right agent to choosing the right characters for a particular narrative. Sixes are manifestly aware of the larger systems at work in the world and the contexts they create. They use this awareness to seek out the most reliable and trustworthy authorities and sources of information. They respect the rules and wish to follow them, but can get so hung up on listening to outside sources that they lose touch with their own instincts about what is right for their stories.

Sixes can suffer from analysis paralysis, particularly when just starting out. They believe they need to know everything about writing before they can sit down to begin their own stories. Not only is this impossible, but as their research begins revealing conflicting opinions from the “authorities,” they can grow frustrated, jaded, and even more anxious about not knowing how to do it “right.” As one of the three “other-referencing” types (along with the Three and the Nine and in opposition to the six “self-referencing” types), Sixes can lose touch with their own inner vision and wisdom for their story, sacrificing creativity for an obsession with identifying and following the rules. Ironically, this can then enhance anxieties that they are not original and have nothing new to say in their stories anyway.

Enhancing the Strengths of the Six as a Writer

I think of Sixes as “the salt of the earth.” At their healthiest, they are incredibly hard-working, practical, responsible, and community-oriented. Nobody shows up and puts in the work like a Six. Their awareness of the big picture and their need to research and test which authorities are truly worth following eventually gives them a tremendous context from which to draw conclusions and make choices. They are usually well-educated and well-informed (even if they may not always be fully aware of the extent of their own knowledge) and the choices they make for their stories are usually extremely conscious. They are good with details, which allows them to make informed decisions for their plots and to create characters of beautiful verisimilitude.

Because of their innate awareness of the interconnectedness of everything and everyone, Sixes are often drawn to create stories of social importance. As a head-based type (along with the Five and the Seven), they are not as inclined toward emotionality or empathy in crafting characters, but they care deeply about society and write about it in a way that often points to where and how systems may be failing to protect and provide for its most vulnerable members. With fear as their core vice, no one understands courage the way Sixes do, and they translate this not only into characters of great bravery but into their own capacity to write stories that push the edges of their growth.

Examples of Sixes as Writers: Mark Twain, J.R.R. Tolkien, and John Grisham.

Type Seven as a Writer: The Enthusiast

The Seven’s Vice: Gluttony

The Seven’s Virtue: Sobriety

Core Lie the Seven Believes: “It’s not okay to depend on anyone for anything.”

Core Truth About the Seven: “You will be taken care of.”

Also referred to as the Epicure, Sevens are characterized by a zest for life, spontaneity, and a constant search for excitement. Sevens are driven by a desire to experience joy and avoid pain, leading them to explore diverse opportunities and possibilities. Their optimism and adventurous spirit make them creative and energetic individuals who thrive on variety. However, this pursuit of pleasure can also be a defense mechanism to distract from deeper emotions or fears of boredom and limitation.

Overcoming the Weaknesses of the Seven as a Writer

Because of their resistance to boredom (and the uncomfortable feelings it often masks), Sevens can struggle with distraction and procrastination more than the other types. They are particularly subject to “shiny object syndrome,” in which new story ideas repeatedly lure them away from existing projects. They are much better at starting projects than finishing them. They may even suffer a certain indecision about what sort of story they want to write, experimenting with genre after genre as a way of satisfying their insatiable desire for new experiences.

Their hesitance to engage with difficult emotions or ideas can negatively impact their writing, encouraging them to remain on the surface rather than going deep. Their instinct is often to engage with stories (both their own and other people’s) as simply entertainment. To begin with, this appeases their neverending search for anything that can distract them from confronting their own depths. More than that, if they are able to remain in the mindset that a story is “just a story,” it allows them to engage with stories without triggering the deeper initiations of growth available in the experience.

Enhancing the Strengths of the Seven as a Writer

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Structuring Your Novel (Amazon affiliate link)

Another name sometimes used for the Seven is the Entertainer. Although this proclivity often suits them to more dramatic and performative art forms, such as acting or comedy, they are equally proficient at bringing their talents for captivating audiences to the page. They are naturally among the most charismatic, witty, and externally fearless of all the Enneagram types, and the stories and characters they create have the ability to endlessly delight audiences. Although not as intrinsically aware of theme as are Fours or structure as are Fives, Sevens are natural-born storytellers. Their storytelling instincts are often spot-on, in part because of how tuned in they are to what evokes responses from others.

The dynamos of the Enneagram, Sevens’ energy is abundant and seemingly neverending. Once Sevens learn to cultivate discipline, they can put that energy to work in manifesting a nearly unmatched level of productivity. This extends not just to the stories they produce, but to their ability to market them. Loving the spotlight as they do, Sevens are excellent at self-promotion and can create social-media content every bit as entertaining and worthwhile as their stories.

Examples of the Seven as Writers: Henry Miller, Tom Wolfe, Oscar Wilde, Douglas Adams.

Type Eight as a Writer: The Challenger

The Eight’s Vice: Lust for Intensity

The Eight’s Virtue: Innocence

Core Lie the Eight Believes: “It’s not okay to be vulnerable or trust anyone.”

Core Truth About the Eight: “You will not be betrayed.”

Also known as the Protector, Eights embody strength, assertiveness, and a natural inclination to take charge. Eights are characterized by their self-confidence, determination, and a desire to protect the vulnerable. Driven by a fear of being controlled or harmed, they establish a powerful presence and confront challenges head-on. Eights value authenticity and directness, creating a straightforward and decisive approach to life. While their leadership qualities are admirable, Eights may face struggles with vulnerability and a fear of being betrayed. Despite this, their resilience and commitment to justice make them formidable forces.

Overcoming the Weaknesses of the Eight as a Writer

Writing Your Story’s Theme (Amazon affiliate link)

More than any other type, Eights are known for their aggressive approach to life. They believe “anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” This can make them more inclined to burnout and to physical injuries (repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.). They can conflate their creative urges with their “mission” to positively impact or even “save” the world. Like the Four, their single-minded belief in their vision for their stories can cause them to exempt themselves from the objective principles of good fiction. Eights can struggle with subtlety and subtext, making them prone to writing fiction that is “on the nose” and that emphasizes the story’s message to the detriment of its portrayal of theme.

Although rarely discouraged or even slowed by other people’s negative or ambivalent opinions, Eights can be explosively reactive in their responses, underestimating their effect on others. Not only can this create unnecessary professional enmity, but it can also box Eights into their own blind spots, preventing them from recognizing weaknesses and calibrating their stories and their professionalism so they can achieve the impact they desire.

Enhancing the Strengths of the Eight as a Writer

No one knows their own minds like Eights do. They don’t waste time or effort on anything they are not passionate about. When they write a story, it is because they are all in. They write out of their passionate intensity for life, often drawing on their energetic experiences in other areas and sometimes preferring hands-on research, granting their stories a unique sense of authenticity and verisimilitude. As a body type (along with the Nine and the One), Eights are excellent at realizing physicality on the page, whether in setting details or the finer points of choreographing an action scene.

Even though unhealthy Eights can sometimes alienate others through their uncalibrated aggression and reactivity, Eights are deeply invested in fostering and protecting their communities. This often inspires them to write stories that vividly evoke the suffering or subjugation of certain people, while passionately advocating for them. When healthy enough to consciously move past their innate belief in the “rightness” of their own perspectives, Eights can access the subtlety and subjectivity of the entire human experience, refraining from bias and presenting humanity in all its conflicting beauty and ugliness.

Examples of Writers as Eights: Harlan Ellison, Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway.

Type Nine as a Writer: The Peacemaker

The Nine’s Vice: Sloth

The Nine’s Virtue: Right Action

Core Lie the Nine Believes: “It’s not okay to assert yourself.”

Core Truth About the Nine: “Your presence matters.”

Also referred to as the Mediator, Nines are characterized by a deep desire for inner and outer harmony. Nines are easygoing and agreeable. They strive to avoid conflict and seek unity and peace in their relationships. Driven by a fear of disconnection and conflict, they tend to merge with others’ preferences and may struggle with asserting their own needs. Nines value comfort, routine, and a laidback approach to life, making them affable and supportive individuals. However, their avoidance of conflict can lead to procrastination and inertia. Despite this, Nines contribute a calming presence, emphasizing the importance of unity and understanding in the pursuit of a harmonious existence.

Overcoming the Weaknesses of the Nine as a Writer as a Writer

Nine’s core vice is “sloth,” which although it points primarily to a psycho-spiritual lethargy that prevents the Nine from going deep with their own inner experience, can also show up in a struggle with procrastination. Often, this procrastination results from the Nine’s tendency to avoid their own inner vision and creativity. Without even realizing it, they can devalue their own creative spark by focusing on what they perceive others want them to write or what would be of the most value to others. On the flipside, they can struggle to commit to writing at all if they feel it is not supported or wanted by others in their lives.

Because of their profound value of harmony, Nines can sometimes struggle with writing conflict or making “bad things happen to their characters.” They are not always willing to look at the hardships or ugliness of life, which can limit their portrayal of realistic or dimensional characters and plots.

Enhancing the Strengths of the Nine as a Writer as a Writer

Nines are sometimes described as “sitting at the top” of the Enneagram circle, which symbolizes their ability to inhabit and appreciate the perspectives of the other eight types. This makes them the unrivaled “perspectivist” of the Enneagram and allows them to enter the minds of characters who are wildly diverse from themselves. Nines have a profound ability to understand the motivations that drive almost any type, and, from this, they can craft compelling characters and rock-solid plots.

Healthy Nines who have accessed the truth within themselves, beyond the voices and wishes of others, will be able to write firmly rooted in their own authentic experiences—while still maintaining understanding and compassion for differing others. Their desire for peace and harmony may prompt them to write stories that inspire these qualities in the world around them, while drawing upon a mature understanding that such stories must also confront the darkness of reality on its way to peace.

Examples of the Nine as a Writer: J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen

***

Delving into the intricacies of each personality type unveils the complexity of the strengths and weaknesses that shape the creative journey. From the principled and perfectionist lens of the One to the easygoing harmony-seeking of the Nine, each type contributes unique gifts to the full spectrum of the Enneagram. Whether you resonate with the deep emotions of the Individualist, the analytical prowess of the Investigator, the loyal dedication of the Loyalist, or any of the others, there is a wealth of self-discovery awaiting writers on their Enneagram journey.

Previously in this series: Enneagram Types for Writers: Exploring Your Strengths and Weaknesses (Part 1 of 2)

Wordplayers tell me your opinions: Do you identify with any of these Enneagram types for writers? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. chacokid says

    Whew, I’ve looked into these for quite a while. I seem to be a 5/9 (investigator/peacemaker) split. They are both at least 75-80% me. And after reading your comments about them – I can see why this split tortures me as well. 😀 There are soooo many ways that you can see your characters, to make them whole and well-rounded, that it can be quite overwhelming.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I like the tritype theory, which posits that although we each have a dominant number (3 in my case), we also favor a number in each of the Head/Heart/Body categories (my tritype: 351). Five is a head number and 9 is a body number, so it’s likely you *are* both, along with one of the heart numbers (2, 3, 4) as well.

    • Lew Kaye-Skinner says

      One of my writing problems relates to what you say about making your characters whole and well-rounded. When writing antagonists, I tend to round them out into positive characters, and they don’t want to remain antagonistic.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        I find the Enneagram particularly useful when writing antagonists. It offers a realistic model for how the different types act and are motivated when unhealthy.

  2. I’m now convinced that whoever came up with the enneagram is spying on me.
    “Once Sevens learn to cultivate discipline…”
    Me, a Seven, saw the word “discipline”, shrieked, and ran away.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Haha. My sister is a 7. She is the epitome of “once Sevens cultivate discipline, they manifest unmatched productivity.” She’s a powerhouse.

  3. This concept strongly resonated with me, particularly the aspects related to procrastination and inertia. As an Enneagram Type Nine, I identify with the struggle to initiate action. However, I’ve found external deadlines to be a powerful motivator, especially when accountability involves sharing my work with an editor or critique partner. It’s important to maintain a healthy perspective on feedback, however, as relying solely on external validation can be counterproductive.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      As an other-referencing type, Nines care deeply about showing up for other people. External deadlines (whether created by others or not) can help create that effect.

  4. ANINE
    I remembered NINE laziness as losing touch with ones own AGO (aims, goals, objectives) but the ban on self assertion and the statement about my truth (which I’ve amnesia for!) triggered tears of recognition.
    Nine explains why I liked to shop the middle of the night and use the self check.
    Nine even explains why I can be so easily badgered; failing to assert, I fall into the Hysteric’s aggression.
    I love that this is why my characters have nuance. My dark lords are the most aggressive altruists and the heroine is based on a cross between J. Edgar Hoover and Darth Vader. The violent humanoids are rambunctious and scared of things that break (like human friends) but also highly forgiving.
    So I defiantly* love this.
    *used facetiously.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “The heroine is based on a cross between J. Edgar Hoover and Darth Vader.”

      Hah! That’s scary. :p

  5. Based on your descriptions, I see myself most in Type 4, followed by Type 1 and Type 5 (though I can see myself to some extent in all the types).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Each of those is in a different “center” (4 is heart, 1 is body, 5 is head), so that’s probably your tritype right there.

  6. Ha ha, nine here who has always struggled with being mean enough to my characters! Also a constant battle against the type nine sloth spiral. At least we can claim to have something in common with Jane Austen!

  7. Dave Wolf says

    I just dove in to the 5-9 group and happily discovered that 5, Investigator, not only describes me as a writer, with excellent fit, it also fits my private investigator character pretty closely as I’ve written it. Here’s how I introduce him: (His POV.) Looking back on everything that happened, I suppose I should have delved into her past and done my due diligence. Looked under her alluring surface. Done the kind of digging I often did for paying clients when they were embarking on a new relationship, whether business or romantic. It was only prudent.
    It wasn’t like I didn’t know there was dirt under the surface.
    “Dirt.” I snort a bitter laugh. Part of my problem was I had developed an aversion to this sort of digging. It had wrecked any love my first wife had for me. And now my failure to do so had destroyed my second marriage.
    (And then I go back 9 months to the beginning.)
    …So his 2nd marriage is screwed up because (he believes) he went against his own instincts. The whole novel is about his learning about her past and trying to find his way back to a loving relationship (while solving a crime or two.)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m always surprised (but shouldn’t be) that most of my protagonists end up being Threes, even when I disguise them very well. 😉

  8. Thank you, Kate. A few years ago, I downloaded your free book ‘Crafting Unforgettable Characters.’ It launched a multi-month journey to learn more. Along the way, I created infographics to reinforce the lessons. I’m so grateful for helping me develop dynamic characters who react realistically to plot events!

  9. Christen says

    Oh, the sloth. I pray every day for help!

    Thank you for sharing the strengths of a 9 – it helps fight that heavy, hairy sloth.

    Going through true darkness then being forced to deal with it is what has allowed me to write at all. For that I’m thankful!

  10. Karen Pierotti says

    Interesting how many 9s are replying. I’m a 9 too. My critique partners are always telling me to make my protagonists suffer more. Glad to see Jane Austen as an example especially as I write in the Regency/Georgian period.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Isn’t great to have critique partners of different types? We get to help each other with our blind spots and weaknesses.

  11. I’m a little late for this, but… Yay, the second part! I’m 4,6,9 and an ENFP, so this was a lot of fun.

    As a six, I struggle with self-confidence and assurance that my stories are original, just like you said in your description. But because my strongest type is a four, I don’t feel the need to follow every rule all the time, although I do worry about the rules sometimes. Then my six tendencies take over, and I feel I must follow the rules at all costs and try to include all the feedback I get. I mostly see myself as an unhealthy six, but it’s getting better. Knowing my core vices really helps. On the healthy side, I see myself as hard working and responsible, though my ADHD makes me forget stuff, a lot.

    As a nine, yes, I’m a sloth, too. I focus too much on what others see, which cripples my creativity. Only when I let go and let myself run free in my imagination can I create truly beautiful stories. The ones I let myself pour into are the ones that touch me the most, reading over them later on, and the ones that touch my readers as well. Ironic: when I stop worrying about what others think, they enjoy my stories better. As for plots and characters, I can’t even count the times my beta readers have told me to increase the stakes, make characters more harsh and evil, give the main character something to really fight for. Many of my stories would benefit from that, but I usually don’t know where or how to start.

    Thank you so much for this mini series! Knowing my weaknesses as a writer, and a person overall, has been eye opening; knowing my potential strengths has been encouraging.

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