Making the Enneagram Work for You as a Writer

Huh? Whuzzat? Ennea-what?

The enneagram is a model of human consciousness understood as a classification of nine interconnected personality types.


I first learned about the Enneagram from an educational psychologist (Herb Pearce—the Enneagram Man—and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Power of the Enneagram) who used this knowledge in his work. In fact, I studied e-gram with Herb for several years. (If you are ever in the Arlington, Massachusetts area, look him up for workshops!)

Here are the Nine Types

  1. The Reformer (Perfectionist) – Responsible and fixed on improvement, correction, or perfection
  2. The Helper/Cheerleader (Giver) – Loves people in order to be loved, they need to be needed or can lay on the guilt
  3. The Achiever (Winner) – Focused on success, goals, accomplishment, winning, producing, and get out of his/her way so they can achieve
  4. The Individualist (Romantic/Depth Seeker) – Non-conformist, individualist, wants to be noticed and admired, a free spirit
  5. The Investigator (Observer) – Thinker/scientist who tends to be quiet and is involved in knowledge gathering, theories, integration of knowledge and learning
  6. The Questioner (Guardian) – Conflicted between trust and distrust, questions, creates plans around security for self and others, can be reactive or proactive
  7. The Optimist (Fun Lover) – Pleasure seekers in search of distraction, do not like repetition, look for fun, adventure, risk-taking, and attention (life of the party)
  8. The Director (the Powerhouse) – They take charge and control because they fear being controlled, they are direct, strong, sometimes brutal – prefer action and strength
  9. The Peacemaker (Accommodator) – Enjoys comfort, consistency, they go with the flow and keep the peace until they reach their breaking point, then watch out!

Any of these personality types can be a main character, sidekick, background character, or villain. A frustrated Helper can be hell-on-wheels if they are not acknowledged. An Individualist can go to the extreme of malignant narcissism and burn the world down trying to get attention. Then the most obsessive Investigator can come out of the math lab and save the world.

I have not addressed the wings (the influence of the personality types to either side of the main personality type – an Optimist with a Director wing might not be as much fun as you think. A Questioner with an Optimist wing is referred to as a Buddy type.

There’s more – a lot more, and I do recommend learning about the e-gram. I just presented information on levels of functioning. There are nine, of course, with the ultimate being Liberated and the bottom rung being Pathological.  It’s dense material, but once you get it, it’s great. It is from an article by Kathy Edens on the ProWritingAid site. Check it out! The writing workshop loved this information.

In addition to books and classes I’ve attended, I own a copy of Character Writer, a program that provides built in character development tools

Note: I get no kickbacks from anyone mentioned. Herb is awesome. The seminar loved the material from Kathy Edens. I’m demonstrating Character Writer next week. It’s all good.

Don’t forget Scrivener is an awesome product and I use it every day! And Scrivener Classes by Gwen Hernandez are so worth the money! No, really, I get nothing off this – just go and be great writers, okay?

Happy Writing!


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