Monday, October 14, 2013

All the Feels: On Introversion and Writing (Part One)




Disclaimer: Today's post may not "speak" to you directly. In fact, there's a 50-50 chance that you're one of those people who will think this post is not about you. We call those people extroverts. And though this post isn't about them, they should read it anyway. Because chances are there are writers in their critique group, children in their homes, or people in their workplaces who are not extroverts. And they may be approaching them in entirely the wrong way.

The other half of possible readers are introverts. And this post is about you.

Not sure if you're an introvert? Take a quiz here. Or check out this handy-dandy chart with examples from Harry Potter.

You can view a larger version of it here


Hi, my name is Dannie, and I'm an introvert. No, for real. 

It may not always seem that way on Twitter, where I can hide behind the comfort of my security blanket (aka my laptop) and an avatar. But I really am the kind of person who...

  • Would rather spend an entire weekend in silence than meet people
  • Will not eat alone in a restaurant (or go to the movies by myself)
  • Intensely dislikes parties (particularly the mandatory kind)
  • Doesn't make eye contact with strangers--okay so part of this is being a New Englander, but not all of it
  • Has a physiological aversion to telephone conversations.


Sound like you? It might. Psychologists estimate that between 25-50 percent of the general population is made up of introverts. When you look at writers specifically, that statistic jumps to 80-90 percent. There is a lot of evidence to support this. Veronica Roth probably said it as well as any of us could:

 If you know anything about me, you know that I'm constantly wondering if I sound stupid when I talk to people I don't know, particularly if we're talking about my writing. I am sure that some of you have that same problem. Writers, as a bunch, are not mega-outgoing. We're more likely to put on giant sweaters and hole up in our bedrooms than, you know, dress up like Lady GaGa and crash a college party, or whatever those outgoing people do.


Despite our numbers, however, the reality is that we live in an extrovert world. I lost count of the number of group projects I completed in graduate school. Professional team sports will earn you a hell of a lot more money than individual sports. And then there's, ya know, life.

Extroverts who don't "get it" often view introverts as unfriendly, nerdy party-poopers, who are shy and lack social skills or, worse, hate people altogether. 

Yes, that's right. Writers hate people so much we spend our entire lives studying their behavior and writing stories for, get this, people to read.




So, what does this mean for your writing life?

Conferences can be awkward.
Schmoozes are hell.
Twitter is awesome.
You will occasionally run across a kick-ass blogger or reporter who will let you answer interview questions by email. However, you will at some point have to have...phone conversations.
Online critique groups are awesome to the power of sauce.
WriteOnCon is, like, the holy grail of writing conferences.

Like any other challenge we face in life, we have to find coping skills to deal with the obstacles set out before us. In the next All-The-Feels post, some I've found helpful, and if you're an introvert, I'd love to hear what you use to help you deal with writing life outside of your safe corner of the universe. You can leave your tips for introverts as comments below, or hit me up via the Contact Form in the top right corner of my blog.


Did you take the Myers-Briggs inventory at the top of the post? What was your score? Does it match what you think is true about yourself? Why or why not?


Dannie Morin is an author, blogger, and freelance editor. She's currently contemplating seeking help for her social media addiction. In the meantime, you can find her on Blogger, Facebook, Goodreads, & Twitter. If you've got suggestions for a future All the Feels post, contact Dannie via the contact form on her blog. She is repped by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

8 comments:

  1. This definitely resonates with me! My introvert score on the Myers-Briggs inventory was 89%, and that didn't surprise me. I had suspected that my attraction to writing had something to do w/ its solitary nature. I guess it makes sense that many other writers feel the same way :)

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    1. I think my score was in the 80s, too (it's been a while.) I think it would be hard to finish a novel if you were very social. Though there are definitely extrovert writers among us!

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  2. 67% Introvert haha... I'm the Artist... after I turned 30 I got much more introverted. I'm happy here.

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    1. I think it was the same for me, right around age 30. I wonder how much of it is that whole independent thinking gene kicking in once our brains are done growing? Are we getting more introverted or growing more comfortable with who we are?

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  3. I took the test and am apparently Snape. Which I am okay with.

    This is such a brilliant post, and so true! There’s this conception I find that introverts can’t be happy on their own, that we’re just coping or something, But it couldn’t be further from the truth!

    Phone conversations. I find these even harder than face-to-face conversations. It’s that awkward introductory small talk at the beginning that is somehow so worse when you can’t see their face. My day job is really good for helping me to overcome these issues, and I tend to reward myself with an evening doing nothing but reading a book, or writing. All on my own.

    (Best. Night. Ever.)

    Laura

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    1. I make a TON of phone calls with my day job and it is far and away my least favorite thing to do. It is so anxiety producing for me to talk on the phone. I felt such a relief when I found out that this is normal for introverts. I think a lot of us walk around believing we are dysfunctional rather than just differently-wired.

      Team Snape? Hellz to the Yeahz. :)

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  4. I am an introvert and this post related to me a lot. Thank you for taking the time to write this! I know what you mean about how extroverted people think we hate people in general - we don't! I love listening to most people and studying them and getting to know their souls. But I don't love talking to people or going to parties or having people know lots of stuff about me. And the phone calls thing? Give me Twitter anytime! I'm 16 years old and its hard to go to school every week day.

    Hope you're doing well :)

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  5. It was especially hard for me in high school, too. I was the kid who preferred to spend lunch in the library rather than the cafeteria. Too noisy and overwhelming. Be thankful for Twitter! We didn't even have Instant Messenger yet! (I'm old.) :) Thanks for stopping by and hang in there!

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