The Introverted Writer

This blog post is an exciting one, and I have Robin from Observe and Report Blog to thank for the idea of turning this concept into a collaboration. The following questions are being answered by nine other bloggers who are a mix of extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts. It is our goal to communicate how different personality types influence writers as individuals and the writing community as a whole. Our hope is to give this topic a well-rounded perspective from many different people. I’ll be including the links to all the other participating blogs below.

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Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
One of my favorite litmus tests that I’ve heard for determining whether you’re extroverted or introverted is this: there’s a large party that you attend. It may be filled with strangers or it may be filled with your best friends in the world. After that party are you wiped out or exhilarated?

I like this because your personality type is much more than liking people and not liking people, which often is what people boil down personality types to.

I am 100% completely introverted. Send me to any gathering of people, and I need several days to recover. It’s extra helpful if I recover quietly by reading or writing or gardening. It’s not that I don’t like people, I love people! But, both good and bad interactions with people leave me drained.

What stigmas have you come across with your personality type in life?
I’ve always hated being an introvert when it comes to meeting people. I am shy, which is common with introverts (but again, not a necessary factor), and I know my social limits. People assume I’m antisocial. People also assume that I can overcome this with effort. If I just try a little harder I’ll somehow overcome my reactions to these scenarios.

It’s just not the case.

I’m usually left feeling guilty and inconsiderate for turning down an invitation because I know I need that mental break.

Do you view your introversion/extroversion as a help or a hindrance?
When it comes to real life, day-to-day interactions, I usually see my introversion as more of a hindrance. I wish I could be as social and energetic as other people. I wish I could pour more into people and not get so drained, but I don’t, so I’ve learned to live within my limits.

But, when it comes to writing, I think there is a clear reason why many are introverts. It’s not that we are good at hiding away and creating worlds to live in, it’s that while we are out among people we’re more likely to be sitting back quietly and observing and analyzing the world. It’s part of the reason social interactions can be so tiring – there are so many stimuli at once – but it’s also the reason why we’re good with writing. We take what we’ve observed, categorize it, and boil it down to its essence, at least the essence we want to communicate.

What stigmas have you come across, specifically in the writing community, in terms of your extroversion/introversion?
There’s a funny trend I’ve noticed on Instagram within the writing community: several people display their Myers-Briggs personality profile in their bio as a badge of honor. Most of those who add this that I’ve seen are introverts. It’s as if Instagram is an alternate world where we can fly our introversion flags high and proud instead of apologizing for our innate personality. There is a level of comradery among the writers, especially those with the same personality type. For a group of people who find it hard to strike out on our own in real life and find our tribe, we have found our fellow introvert people. We have where we belong.

I have often wondered how the extroverts feel with all this proud introversion. And, I have noticed extroverts tip-toeing into threads and apologizing for their extroverted nature as if they aren’t as welcome in the virtual group hugs of comments. I’m not sure if they truly feel ashamed of their extroversion, but it seems like some are.

How would you say your introversion/extroversion affects your writing? Does this have a positive or negative effect on you as a writer?
I touched on this before, but I think my introversion is an asset to my writing. I am an observer, and I tend to pick up on subtleties that others may not. It also can have a negative impact in that I find it hard sometimes to be in the situations that can provide the best insights into people and their behaviors. I’m sure I have missed out on a lot because the thought of joining in on every social adventure leaves me drained before it even begins.

Do you write characters with a similar personality type? If not, how do you write characters with a differing personality?
I think most of my protagonists are at least somewhat introverted. I write predominantly in the first person, and I think that tends to lend itself to introverted personality types. Though everybody overthinks things at times, I think there is some level of overthinking and overanalyzing that is unique to introverts.

I do write supporting characters as extroverts because it would be a pretty flat and unbelievable world if it was full of introverts. Again, I’m able to write extroverted personalities by simply observing people in real life. I have several people close to me, including my husband, who fall on the extroverted end of the spectrum, so I know some extroverts well enough to work with that personality type within my writing.

Does your personality affect which genre you write in?
I don’t think my personality affects my chosen genre at all. I write contemporary and general fiction, but if I really wanted to, I could probably write in other genres. Those genres just aren’t my passion, and it has more to do with my life experiences and my goals in writing than my personality.

How are your storylines affected by your extroversion/introversion?
Since I tend to write my protagonists as introverts, the plot is affected. Introverts are less likely to be the life of the party and are more likely to get caught in a spiral of overthinking and over-analyzation, so that is reflected in the plot. My characters are rarely in a party scene, and if they are, they’re spending their time at the drinks counter trying to avoid interactions with certain people. But, I also think building characters with a strong personality type has an interesting effect on the plot: sometimes the biggest conflict within the plot is the protagonist overcoming his/her introversion (or extroversion) and stepping into the opposite side of the spectrum because his/her circumstances require it.

How does your introversion/extroversion help or hinder your marketing of yourself as a writer? What challenges or benefits does this create?
At this stage of my writing, I don’t think it’s overly difficult to market myself as a writer. I have no book to promote yet, and I am mainly working on my branding as an author. Instagram has been a huge help to “meeting” more people, but meeting people on the internet is much easier than meeting people in person. The only struggle I’ve seen for myself in terms of marketing myself online is doing things like Instagram “stories” or “lives” where you need to be in front of a camera and people need to see your face. It’s still not as daunting as meeting someone in person, but when I’ve attempted doing “lives,” I always end up with my adrenaline pumping.

I could see my biggest challenge being book signings or tours if I get to that. Those are very much in-person events and require small talk, which I struggle with.

So, what about you? Are you a writer? What’s your personality type, and how does it affect your work?

This blog was written as part of a collaboration with:

Jaq of Jaq Vegan Writes
Stephanie of Stephanie Ascough
Audrey of Audrey Bodine | Young Writer, Old Soul
Lori of Armed Up | Day to Day Spiritual Battles
Robin of Observe and Report Blog
Melissa of Melissa Frey
Alika of Alika Guan
Hollie of A Breathing Room
Misty of Rainy Day in May

 

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4 thoughts on “The Introverted Writer

  1. Isn’t it funny, when people assume we are anti-social? I’m not a total introvert but honestly, I think there has to be a little introvert in every artist. It is that quiet, observance that both helps us find our muse and moves us. Even the extroverted writer- and they do exist though I think they aren’t super common- there has to be a little of that in there somewhere…
    I’m so glad you brought me into this collaboration! Thank you!

    Like

    1. It’s so true! I had several people when I was growing up who thought I was rude because I was painfully shy. And I totally agree about the observation – art cannot happen if there isn’t some level of observation.

      And, you’re welcome! It was fun to collaborate and get to know some IG people even better!

      Like

  2. Honestly Mel I would not have guessed that you were introverted if you didn’t tell me. I loved this article…very honest. But I think that when you get the opportunity to promote your work and you will…your personality will be a strength to you. There is something about being quiet that allows you to be a better observer of things. That my dear is a strength and testimony to the work we’ve been called to do.

    Like

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