I keep hearing about how writers are introverts. I know there are lots of introverted writers out there. I’ve met many. But, I think there are also many of us who are extroverts. Think about Mark Twain. Would you call him introverted? or Charles Dickens or Hemingway? Indeed the list of extroverted writers might not outnumber introverts, but we do exist. Let’s take a look at what kind of personality tends to lean toward writing.
Even though some of us are “people” people, we are not people-people when we are writing. We crave our privacy and alone time. After we finish a project the extrovert in us comes out. Pure extroverts who cannot live without others and need constant stimulation could not thrive in a writer’s world. For the pure introvert this is a mute question. They enjoy the writing part of their existence. They love the time in their writer’s cave producing their masterpieces. The problem is they don’t want to come out. Think about JD Salinger. He’s probably an extreme example of an introverted writer who has been holed up in his cave for decades. He’s so hidden from the world that he’s not sent any of his work out for publication. Here’s a less extreme example: I once heard Michael Connelly speak. He was clearly uncomfortable speaking before a group. We all know he is an excellent writer who can spin wonderful tales. But, put him in front of a group of people and he was awkward and looked as if he might jump out of his skin. I know he had to be there because his publisher told him to. My guess is he much prefers being in front of his computer creating another Harry Bosch mystery.
Recently I had the pleasure of talking to Kaitlyn Mirison of CreateBeyondLimits.com
I asked her to describe the unique needs of the introvert.
“An extrovert is energized by external stimulation and an introvert’s energy source is from within,” Kaitlyn said. “An introvert needs to spend time alone to recharge and when interacting with the external world, an introvert expends energy. Therefore, an introverted writer can experience energy depletion and overwhelm while engaging to promote their work, connect with their audience and expand their network within the writing community, especially in the more energy intensive environments, such as conferences and live readings.”
She quickly added,
Their energy tank and honor where their energy gauge is when engaging externally. And choose depth over breadth. With awareness and mindful intention, they can experience tremendous success by ensuring they’ve nourished themselves from within to then choose selectively which events to attend and relationships to nurture in their own essential way.”
What Kaitlyn says makes a lot of sense, even to this extrovert. I, too, become exhausted with too much stimulation from the outside.
One service Kaitlyn offers is a virtual retreat. Here’s how she describes these experiences.
“They are designed with an introvert’s needs in mind including creating quiet space, reflective activities, time to ponder, deep meaning and a calm pace,” Kaitlyn explained. “The virtual space invites community but you don’t have to engage if you prefer not to. The overall purpose of these retreats is that instead of numbing out in your alone time to recharge, you feed your rich inner world with ideas, images and feelings that awakens your soul connection, gifting yourself with the experience of feeling peaceful, centered and alive.”
Check out Kaitlyn’s website for dates and costs. It sounds to me as if whether you are an introverted or extroverted writer, you could benefit for the kind of introspective writing environment offered in a virtual retreat.
Let me hear from you. Are you an introverted writer? Are you an extrovert? What unique needs do you crave in your writing world?
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Mary-Jean Harris says
Interesting post. I am definitely an introverted writer, and for that matter, an introvert in all areas. I don’t mind talking about my book and writing with people I know like my family, but I hate to do it with the “general public” (a scary term!). Though now that there is so much more writing promotion and networking online, it’s easier for writers to do that without going so far out of their comfort zones.
Joan Curtis says
Hi Mary-Jean, thanks for stopping by and sharing something about yourself. You are right that it’s easier (a bit so) to promote ourselves online. But, I think we must also get out and do some beyond the computer. There’s probably a happy point in between the two. At least we do not have to go out as much as Michael Connelly probably did in the early days. I suspect he is doing less now, too.
Susan Bernhardt says
Joan, my walking partner would have loved this post. She loves to put labels on people. Who’s an introvert or extrovert is one of her favorite topics. She is an extreme extrovert and she has called me an introvert in the past. The last time I spoke with her on this topic, she said she changed her mind about me…lol.
There was a time when I couldn’t wait to go out and do things with friends. I always wanted to be gone. Now I crave time alone, writing. I get little of it how it is. I have actually lost friends because of my writing, not going out often enough to please them. But that is okay. I have friends that understand that I love to write and need time alone.
Perhaps it’s getting older. I don’t know. But I wish I had more time to stay home. Like everyone, I have commitments, social, volunteering, and my family, especially my husband.
Great post, Joan. Thank you.
Joan Curtis says
Hi Susan, Thanks for stopping by. I think I’ve become more introverted with time. I love being with people, but, like you, I cherish the time alone to write. My husband is retired but he has a hard time keeping away from me while I work 🙂 One day he walked into my office (while I was going through galley proofs!) and asked, “Do I need a haircut?” I nearly lost it. But, then I realized because I work at home, I can work all the time and sometimes I did. I realized that I need to set hours, work and then shut my computer off. When I do that, I can allow time with friends and perhaps not ignore my husband.