I've had theory for years that people are either a "focus" or a "scatter". Now, I don't mean scatter brained, although that can happen ;). I’m talking about the way people work and function in their lives.
Focus people usually have a very narrow and intense way of doing things. In school they often excel at whatever topic they study. My former thesis adviser is an excellent example of a focus. When I met her she was only 27 and was already a tenured professor at a University. She also had spent time with the World Health Organization in Geneva. At 27. Scared the crap out of me for reasons you'll see very quickly.
I, on the other hand, am an example of a scatter (stop laughing folks ;)). Someone as intensely aimed at their area of study like my thesis adviser was a bit unnerving for me. Scatters find so many things interesting that we rarely get to the level of intensity that a focus does. The whole "ooooooh! What's THAT?!" can really cause a crimp in our plans for world domination.
Both types in the extreme can be problematic. Scatters may fail to reach their potential if they can't put some blinders on and focus on the task or goal. I have been mostly able to combat this with my writing, but only in the last eight or so years. Before that I would write for stretches, then get distracted and wander somewhere else.
The focus folks can miss out on many things in life if they become too obsessed with a single subject. I'm thinking my former adviser did NOT have a rip roaring fun time in college-LOL!
But both types have strengths as well. If the object of the focus’s intense dedication falls through, they may find themselves at a loss. But the scatter can pick up and find another topic of interest. However, the focus can get to a level of depth within a subject that would be very difficult for a scatter.
Like all personality traits- my little scatter to focus category isn't extreme. Just like most folks are on a scale for introvert verses extrovert, people range on this one as well.
Now how does all this relate to writing, you ask? It impacts both your characters as well as you the author. Understanding where on the sliding scale of focus your characters are can help you keep their behavior consistent and believable. And it's always handy to have another personality aspect to play with ;).
Understanding your own position on the scale can help you keep your writing form in top shape. You need to understand how your mind and personality work best so that you can keep moving forward in your writing career. Now it doesn’t mean that a scatter can’t become more focused and visa versa- but before anything can change, you have to understand what’s there to begin with. True for our characters and ourselves.