Are you an introvert–that’s okay!
Are you an introvert? My guess would be that your answer would be yes. I think that the majority of writers are. It makes sense since writing is an independent job that very few people do with someone else.
I’ve been looking into introversion recently after hearing a really interesting podcast by Joanna Penn (it was actually from the summer, but somehow I missed it). In this episode, she interviews Cat Rose, the owner of The Creative Introvert Website and a book by the same title.
Obviously, Cat is an introvert and she talks about what it’s like to be a creative introvert—the good points and the bad (yes, there are, actually, good points, which I’ll talk about in a minute).
Before I get into thoughts of what it means to be a creative introvert, let’s first look at introversion, because it’s surprisingly interesting!
An introvert isn’t someone who’s shy, necessarily, it’s someone who is energized by being alone. Extraverts, conversely, get their energy by being with other people. According to Jonathan Cheek at Wellesley College, there are four types of introverts:
- The Social Introvert: That’s someone who, while they prefer to be at home alone, are happy going out with a few select friends. They’re not made anxious by being out and among people as other introverts may be.
- The Thinking Introvert: These people are more pensive, introspective, and have a rich inner life. They don’t necessarily mind being with others and, like all introverts, do prefer to be alone, but they really live most fully in their own mind, in their own imagination.
- The Anxious Introvert: That’s someone who gets extremely anxious and uncomfortable when they’re around other people. A great way to avoid being especially anxious when you absolutely have to go out into public is to exercise, eat right and practice mindfulness.
- The Restrained Introvert: These people are the great thinkers of the introversion world. They think before they speak. They take their time warming up to a new situation, and they take a good amount of time and care in making a decision.
Curious as to which one you are? Here’s a quiz you can take to find out.
So, now let’s get back to writers. How does being an introvert affect us?
Well, let’s now look at the pros and cons of being a creative introvert:
- We love being by ourselves! This is great since what we do is a solitary occupation. And yeah, I get that that’s probably why you chose it.
- We are also deep thinkers. We can more easily get lost in our own imaginations. Those imaginations are what create the world in your book.
- It can be hard sometimes to go out and be with other people. But it’s also really important. We are creating people all the time in our work. If we don’t go out and experience the real thing, our characters could end up being either all the same or simply not believable. The best way to create authentic people is to take clues from real life. How are you going to get those clues if you hide away in your writer’s den all the time? You can’t.
- Along the same lines, if you’re an Anxious Introvert and really have a hard time being with others, you may miss out on some incredible opportunities to go to writer’s conferences where you can meet and talk with other writers and learn all about both the craft and the business of writing. I’ve talked before about the benefits of going to conferences and if you can’t bring yourself to go to one, you could lose out on some really fantastic opportunities.
Another thing to think about… even if you are an introvert, it doesn’t mean that you don’t or can’t actually go out into the world. I know a lot of writers who love to go out to a coffee shop to write. In a sense, they are going out to be with other people while also being entirely alone. They may put on noise-canceling headphones and not even make eye contact with another human being, but they’re there, out in the real world where they can watch and work and be alone all at the same time.
Along the same lines, even if you’re an anxious introvert, you can still go to parties or even host them. Just because you’re at a party, doesn’t mean that you absolutely have to talk to everyone there or even half the people there. I’ll tell you my little secret—I love hosting parties because then all I have to do is greet people when they come in and then spend the rest of the time eavesdropping on other people’s conversations as I hand out food and make sure everyone’s glass is full. If it looks like I’m busy, most people won’t even speak with me. My guests are happy, feel well looked after, and I don’t have to worry about what to say to people.
On the other hand, I also happen to be quite social at times and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do like speaking with people I know or those who have similar interests. And if I need to speak with someone I don’t know, asking them about themselves is a great way to avoid doing much talking myself.
So, tell me, how do you deal with being an introvert? Or are you one of those rare and beautiful birds who are an extroverted author? Let me know in the comments!