I return to blogging because I like to write. Never did it cross my mind that my keen interest in writing had anything to do with who I am on a fundamental level until recently. After you read this you’ll understand the connection I started to make with introversion to writing.
It is estimated that at least 1/3 of the population are introverted. For a significant portion of the population, including myself we felt largely misunderstood. We felt something was wrong with us. I may not have been able to articulate it during childhood, but I learned early on that being outgoing, sociable, and assertive were more socially acceptable than being reserved, quiet, and passive. While introversion is still largely misunderstood and looked upon as a “deficiency,” today more people are becoming enlightened as to what introversion actually is and more importantly the inert strengths that introverts possess, largely thanks to Susan Cain’s book: Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. One of the many arenas introverts are making their mark on the world is literature.
This is not to say that extroverts can’t be good writers too. Writers are as varied as the number of books that are out on the market. From my own experiences I’ve come to see how my natural strengths that many other introverts possess can actually play in their favor when it comes to writing. Granted this won’t apply to every single introvert (there is great variation even among introverts) but the overall principles will apply to many.
Writing is their preferred method of communication.
Typically extroverts tend to vocalize their thoughts. Introverts by nature tend to internalize their thoughts. From observation, my extroverted counterparts tend to be more vocal on expressing their thoughts and feelings vs. my introverted friends. For some introverts, speaking out especially to those they don’t know very well can be unnerving or awkward. Add shyness and anxiety to the mix and this problem is 10x worse especially in crowds. Even if you aren’t necessarily shy, it can be hard to articulate the thoughts and ideas swirling in your heads when someone puts you on the spot. Many find it easier to express their ideas into writing because it allows them time to sort out their thoughts and choose the right words. As a result many introverts have become comfortable writing their ideas and over time writing becomes second nature.
We have rich inner worlds.
It can be joked that introverts live in their heads. Silly as it sounds there’s some truth to those words. I’ll recall a friend of my friend on Facebook quoted that the “quietest people have the loudest minds.” As an introvert, I can personally attest to that fact. Because we are constantly ruminating different thoughts and working out ideas in our heads it’s no wonder that many introverts are naturally creative people. One of those creative outlets can be writing. With a creative mind you can brainstorm the plot of your next story from a single idea that popped in your head. You can imagine the setting of the plot, from the scenery of the world you’re creating. For the characters that populate your world, you can visualize everything from their physical appearance, down to their mannerisms and facial expressions. Once the ideas flow, the possibilities for the next novel are endless.
The need for quiet.
While this may not appear to many as a strength, our strength or energy comes from recharging alone. Quiet environments are the most conducive for this. Because long periods of quiet time doesn’t phase us as much (I actually welcome it) we can concentrate better. This plays into writing because the longer you can spend concentrating on your writing, the more productive you will be. Not only will you increase your word count but the quality of your writing will also benefit when you take away the distractions and tune in to your inner voice as you read the story and see if things flow. High levels of concentration are especially needed for the editing and re-writing process which is essential if you want to publish a book.
Because introverts get their energy from being alone, spending time alone or engaging in quieter activities is ideal for us. Stereotypically you’ll find an introvert at home curled up in their bed or couch reading a good book instead of going to a social gathering. Again that’s not true of every introvert in every situation. There’s times I actually want to go out and spend time with friends. A lot of times I genuinely enjoy myself when I do go. But there’s nothing more relaxing than unwinding after the event is over. A popular pastime particularly for quieter introspective souls is reading. Reading is indirectly related to the craft of writing because from reading you can learn from another author’s writing styles. Are they good at describing action scenes? Good at writing dialogue? Or maybe it’s believable characters. Without copying, we can emulate plot devices that work and avoid those that don’t in our own writing.
Granted, not every introvert will automatically excel at writing, but these three traits can help you in improving the craft. Like any craft it takes time and effort to perfect. And the good news is that these traits can be true of anyone whether you’re an extrovert, introvert or somewhere in between (ambivert). So if these traits are applicable to you, see them for what they are. And if your goal is to become a writer use them to your advantage in becoming a better writer than you were yesterday.