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  • Writer's pictureClaire Bentley

ENNEAGRAM TYPE 7

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

FOR CREATIVITY AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT


INTRODUCTION

The Enneagram is a personality classification system which divides the human population into nine broad personality types based on their desires, fears, beliefs and behaviours. In this series of blog posts I will take you through each of the nine Enneagram personality types in detail, looking at how you can use them to improve your creative work patterns and to inform character development in your artwork.



Circular diagram showing each of the nine Enneagram personality types
The Enneagram circle


There is dispute about the validity of the system as applied to ‘real-world’ humans. I’m not going to enter that debate in this series. However, I believe the system is potentially useful for creatives as a way of framing and understanding both our characters and ourselves. It is important to remember that personality systems are broad tools to aid understanding: there is lots of nuance and individual variation, and people rarely fit perfectly into one category or another.


WHY ENNEAGRAM AND NOT MYERS-BRIGG?


The Myers-Brigg personality classification system is also useful for understanding our characters and ourselves. However, I find it more complex and less intuitive than the Enneagram system. For example, when studying well-written fictional characters I can usually identify their Enneagram type quickly and easily, but I would struggle to identify which of the sixteen Myers-Brigg categories they fall under without reference material and a little free time to work it out. In addition, unlike the Enneagram, the Myers-Brigg types are not evenly distributed through the population: I am an ‘Advocate’ (INFJ), the rarest category at 1% of the population. In the Enneagram system I am a Type Nine, so many more ‘like-minded’ people to learn from.


However, the main reason I prefer using the Enneagram to the Myers-Brigg for character development is because story structure and story theory revolve around identifying the desires, fears, motivations, and misbeliefs of your characters. The Enneagram has these baked in and, even more crucially, the descriptions of healthy and unhealthy versions of each type make it far easier to see how a character might grow or disintegrate during a story (depending on what type of character arc you are writing).


WHY THIS BLOG SERIES?


The Enneagram is useful for understanding your pattern of work and behaviour when it comes to your creative life, so you can work out your strengths and weaknesses, find out what works for you, and identify areas where you could improve.


I have been using the Enneagram to inform character development in my current work in progress and it has been invaluable for helping me shape and develop their personalities, beliefs, and change arcs. There is a lot of information about the Enneagram but very little in terms of how to practically apply the system to character development in creative work. Therefore, I created this series of blog posts to explore each of the nine types in detail, and to provide guidance and examples when it comes to using the Enneagram for character development and plotting their change arcs.


There is a huge amount of information out there regarding the Enneagram and these posts barely scratch the surface! Therefore, I have linked many references at the end of the posts (including the ones which informed this series) if you would like to explore the topic further.




WORKING OUT YOUR ENNEAGRAM TYPE

There are tests out there (both paid and free) which can help you identify your Enneagram type. However, (again unlike Myers-Brigg) you can probably work out your type from the descriptions.


A word of caution: study each of the types before deciding which one best describes yourself. It may not be the one you initially think! When reading through the descriptions I initially couldn’t find one that quite worked for me, then ‘decided’ I was a Type Three, even though there were parts of it that fit and parts that didn’t.


However, when I reached the Type Nine description I had a moment of ‘oh s***, here I am’. If the description feels uncanny and makes you feel uncomfortable, you have likely found the right one for you!


It is worth saying again that people do not necessarily fit perfectly into categories. I had strong scores for multiple Types when I took a test (it turns out Type Nines are good at adopting the behaviours of other types!) I also later found out that healthy Type Nines behave like healthy Type Threes, which could explain why I felt an affinity for the Type Three description.


My point is, study the types first before deciding which one best describes you!


TYPE 7 OVERVIEW: THE ENTHUSIAST


Zoomed-in drawing of Type 7 on the Enneagram

PERSONALITY TRAITS

· Playful

· Enthusiastic

· Extroverted

· Experience-seeking

· Spontaneous

· Versatile

· Undisciplined

· Scattered


SUMMARY

(https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/)

“Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied”.


DESIRES

To be happy, satisfied and content, with their needs fulfilled.


FEARS

Of being deprived and in pain.


MOTIVATIONS

· Maintain freedom and happiness

· Avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences

· Excitement

· Keep themselves occupied

· Avoid and discharge pain


WINGS

Seven with a Six-Wing: the Entertainer

Settled rather than boisterous. Your pace may be slower than a typical Type Seven because you take your time with projects before moving on. More likely to commit to relationships.


Seven with an Eight-Wing: the Realist

You may appear to be reckless because of your fast pace and bold attitude. You are competitive, and when expressing your ideas you can be assertive and even aggressive (if others do not agree). More interested in having fun than gaining power.


DIRECTION OF GROWTH

Adopt behaviours of a healthy Type Five: focused and interested


DIRECTION OF STRESS

Adopt negative behaviours of a Type One: critical and perfectionistic


ARE YOU A TYPE 7 CREATIVE?

Do you recognise yourself in the description above?


If you are a Type Seven creative then you are generally enthusiastic about life. You are optimistic, curious, and adventurous, viewing the world as containing many good things for you to discover and appreciate. You are bold and vivacious, and pursue what you want in life with cheerful determination, wishing to fully participate in your life every single day. You are energetic, upbeat, cheerful and good-humoured.


You are practical and may be engaged in a number of projects at the same time, though it is likely that your mind moves rapidly from one idea or project to the next, preferring the initial stages of creativity to in-depth exploration of topics. You may struggle to commit to an idea, or you may submerge yourself in a new project to escape the previous one. You are skilled at brainstorming and the spontaneous synthesising of ideas: ideas are exhilarating and stimulate your mind. Your mind (and perhaps your body) is fast and agile, and you are a quick learner (both of facts and of new manual skills).


Because you are good at many things and have wide-ranging curiosity, you may find it difficult to identify what you would like to do with your talents, and you may not value them as much as if you had struggled to attain them. You may be out of touch with your inner self and thus struggle to decide what to do or what would be of most benefit. Rather than struggling to find the thing you really want, you may instead try everything you can and aim to enjoy yourself in the process. You are likely to want to sample all flavours of life before settling on the one you like best. However you may find that none of these experiences truly satisfies you, and you may become anxious and frustrated, with fewer resources (e.g. physical , financial, social etc) at the end of the adventure.


As a Seven you are prone to keeping your mind and body busy all the time, which helps keep anxiety and negative thoughts at bay. However, a healthy Seven’s versatility, curiosity and learning ability could lead to amazing achievements.



Large ice cream: seeking joyful experiences in life
Type 7's are motivated by exploring and enjoying the world


YOUR WORK PATTERN

You are inspiring, motivating and fun to work with. You desire flexibility, variety, adventure, and connection with others.


You are visionary and thrive in creative roles. You may become bored in an environment which requires you to carry out the same tasks daily, or which stifle your creativity or restrict your schedule.


YOUR STRENGTHS

· Creative

· Adaptable: practical and flexible when faced with challenges and setbacks

· Team-player

· Enthusiastic: optimistic and focused on joy and happiness

· Outgoing

· Opportunistic: living in the moment and going with the flow


YOUR WEAKNESSES

· Impulsivity

· Carelessness

· Easily bored: need variety and interaction to stay interested

· May miss important details

· May jump from project to project

· Difficulty processing negative emotions: may use cheerfulness to hide negative feelings


RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GROWTH

· Observe your impulses rather than giving in to them, so you can become a better judge of which ones are worth following.

· Try reducing the external stimulation around you (e.g. TV, radio etc), so you can listen to your inner voice and learn to trust yourself.

· You do not have to do everything this instant: most opportunities will come again.

· Try to live in the moment rather than anticipating future experiences.

· Choose quality over quantity when it comes to experiences.

· Make sure that the thing you want will be good for you long-term.


TYPE 7 CHARACTERS IN YOUR ART

I will speak to writing because I am most familiar with this, but the lessons can be applied to other creative art forms.


WHERE MIGHT YOUR CHARACTER START?

The ‘average’ Type Seven individual may feel restless and wish to have more options and choices available to them. They may constantly seek new things and experiences, e.g. spending money keeping up with the latest trends. They may be hyperactive and impulsive, constantly engaged in activity and fearful of growing bored. They may be doing too many things, and always at a surface level.


The individual may be flamboyant, melodramatic, and uninhibited. They may even be sinking into various forms of excess: self-centred, materialistic and greedy, yet unsatisfied and feeling they do not have enough.


HOW MIGHT YOUR CHARACTER GROW?

A healthy Type Seven is joyous and ecstatic about the simple wonders and goodness of life. They live in the moment, assimilating their experiences in an in-depth way, and are grateful and appreciative of what they have. They are vivacious, eager, spontaneous, cheerful and resilient. They are excitable and enthusiastic about experience and sensation. They may be multi-talented and become an accomplished achiever. They are practical, productive and prolific.


A healthy Type 7 provides attention to the needs of others, and does not mind if they are not in control or if things don’t quite go according to their own preferences or plans.


HOW MIGHT YOUR CHARACTER DISINTEGRATE?

An unhealthy Type Seven individual may find it difficult to be content, and may go to extremes to reclaim their sense of freedom, joy, and control. They become focused on the past and / or future instead of the present.


A Type Seven is in danger of becoming impulsive and infantile, desperate to quiet their anxious thoughts, and not knowing when to stop. They may be offensive, abusive, and out of control. The individual’s energy and health may run out. They may give up on themselves and their life. They are prone to anxiety disorders, addictions and escapism (from both themselves and their situation). They may become depressed, self-destructive and suicidal.


DEVELOPING YOUR TYPE 7 CHARACTER: WORKED EXAMPLE


Let’s say the one-line theme of your story is ‘you must show patience with others’. You could make your main character a Type Seven because impulsivity is likely a key part of their personality. They begin the story with the misbelief ‘people should just get on with stuff instead of wasting time’ (the ‘lie’, or an opposing version of the story’s theme).


In the beginning the character is caring and has close relationships with others, but they are impulsive and reckless. If they decide they want to do something, then they must do it right now, or they may lose the opportunity. They become impatient and irritable with others in their life when these others show more hesitation and thoughtfulness before jumping into a decision. It is possible that one of these hasty decisions may lead the protagonist into a huge amount of trouble. They ignored the caution and counsel of their friends and are now paying a hefty price. Maybe they lose a large amount of money and are in danger of losing their valued friends because of it. They still value freedom and adventure, but the experience of almost losing everything they value makes them more patient and content, and they learn to think before they act.


If the protagonist is in a negative change arc then they may destroy their personal relationships when they continue to make rushed and bad decisions, and they throw away their opportunities because they don’t learn to be thoughtful and patient. Ironically, they may lose their freedom and opportunities when they run out of money, resources and relationships.


This is just one example. Your theme may not suggest an obvious Enneagram type that ‘fits’, but it could be interesting to ‘try out’ your theme with protagonists and antagonists of different Enneagram types to see how these dynamics could impact your story and plot. Remember: a protagonist or antagonist (or any side character) could be any of the Enneagram types, and could grow or disintegrate within their type (or stay the same) during the course of the story.



Multiple zebra crossings with blurred vehicles zooming over them
The Type 7 protagonist's tendency to rush into decisions leads them into trouble


TYPE 7 CHARACTERS IN WELL-KNOWN STORIES

EXAMPLES: HARRY POTTER

I do not agree with or condone any form of transphobia, and have not given a single penny to She-who-must-not-be-named since she outed herself. However, the story of Harry Potter helped me a lot as a child, and its characters remain some of the best known in the literary world. That is why I have chosen Harry Potter characters as examples in my discussion of the Enneagram, so that hopefully you can appreciate how the Enneagram might be used to help create strong, unique and conflicted characters. These categorisations are based on my own judgment and knowledge of the characters: please feel free to disagree (and let me know in the comments if you do!)


FRED AND GEORGE WEASLEY

Identical twins Fred and George are great examples of the Type Seven personality. They are energetic, bold, and highly extroverted, frequently the centre of attention at Hogwarts and elsewhere. The twins are funny and flamboyant entertainers, who are also kind-hearted and well-liked. They bring joy and humour to a story which could easily be much darker without them.


Fred and George are not studious and do not gain high grades at school: however they are extremely intelligent, creative and innovative. Instead of studying, they spend their time developing ingenious magical joke products. They start building their (successful) business before leaving Hogwarts. Part of their entrepreneurial motivation comes from growing up poor and the deep-set frustrations which stemmed from that (despite their family being warm and loving).


EXAMPLES: TYPE 7 CHARACTERS FROM ENCANTO

Encanto is one of my favourite films from recent times. The characters are unique and fascinating, and the arcs they undergo are powerful and relatable. Therefore, I have also used Encanto to provide examples of the different Enneagram types in character-based art.


ISABELA MADRIGAL

I have classified Isabela as a Type Seven because of her desire to escape the confines and expectations of the rest of her family and to explore life and its virtues for herself.

Isabela is described as the perfect ‘golden child’ of the family. Initially she appears reserved, restrained, and self-centred, though there are small hints that she may not be content with the direction her life is taking. It is only later in the film when it is revealed that she is exerting a massive amount of self-control to conform to the family’s expectations of her so she doesn’t disappoint them (especially her Abuela).


Isabela’s ability reflects this: she can generate flowers and other plant-life at will. At the beginning of the film her flowers are vibrant, colourful and beautiful, which (I feel) reflects her joy in life and desire to experience all it has to offer. Ironically her family treat her ability as representing her ‘beauty and perfection’ rather than the enthusiasm and vitality buried within her. Her character becomes far more relatable and interesting when she begins generating other plants, e.g. vines and cacti, and starts embracing her true nature and ambitions rather than controlling and stifling them.

If Isabela had continued on her current path and married her ‘suitor’ in the village then I would have greatly feared for her mental health over the long term.


RESOURCES

I couldn’t find much that was geared specifically to fictional characters in writing (or other art forms). However, there is much more to explore within the Enneagram system, and I have listed some helpful resources below:

The Enneagram Institute: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

Don Riso and Russ Hudson have published multiple books on the Enneagram system

These resources provided a foundation for the blog posts in this series, which I then applied to understanding your creative work pattern and crafting fictional characters.


BEFORE YOU GO…

Are you an Enneagram Type 7? Are any of your characters Type 7? Please join in the discussion (contact details below).


Please feel free to comment on the article and/or contact me if you have any questions!


Socials: @cbentleywriter on most of them!




Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/clairebentley

I welcome respectful and friendly discussion on the topics I write about, including if your opinion differs from my own.


Disclaimer: generative AI

I do not use generative AI to produce or inform my blog, my images, or my fiction. All of my content is generated by the chaotic firing of my own (human) brain! (I have access to some images through my Wix subscription). I do not consent to the use of my content, images, or fiction to train generative AI models. Please contact me to discuss permission and compensation if you wish to use my content in this way.




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