An Introverted Writer: how does my personality type affect my writing?
Melanie from Verity and Violets and Robi from Observe and Report have started an incredibly interesting conversation about writing as an introvert or extrovert! In response to their call, a group of us have decided to collaborate on a blog post where we answer questions on how our personalities affect our writing. Hope you all enjoy this slightly different post today!
Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
I identify as an introvert. At times, I can be quite social and enjoy parties/being around crowds of people. I also work in a field where I interview people for a living so naturally, I enjoy talking to and meeting new people. However, I definitely need alone time to recharge and take much more pleasure in being home than going out.
What stigmas have you come across with your personality type in life?
I wouldn't say I have a lot of personal experience with negative stigmas associated with introverts but I've heard people scorn those of us who are homebodies or "reclusive shut-ins". I have no shame in being a homebody though. Give me a comfy couch and good book over a social event any day!
Do you view your introversion/extroversion as a help or a hindrance?
Sometimes, I've wished I were more extroverted so that I wouldn't feel so utterly exhausted after huge life events purely from the sheer volume of interpersonal interaction. For example, during my college graduation, my family and friends came into town and we all celebrated throughout the weekend and it was a fun time! But afterwards, I was so tired and needed to be by myself for a few days just to feel more aligned and normal. Does this happen to any other introverts out there?
I'm not sure if this is related to my introversion but many of my favorite pastimes are solitary activities by nature (reading, for example). This has made me very comfortable with being alone and I highly value the time I have to myself, which can be both a help and a hindrance at different times. On one hand, I am rarely ever bored or lonely. I find that a lot of my more extroverted friends get bored when they don't have a friend to hang out with or feel lonely when they are by themselves. I'm very comfortable being by myself and can find an endless amount of things to occupy me. There are so many books to read!!! What is boredom?? But on the other hand, this can make me somewhat of a recluse, and if I'm being totally honest, a flaky person when it comes to plans with other people, especially people I don't know very well. It's a terrible flaw of mine that I'm trying to be better about. Example: sometimes, I will have made plans to go with a friend to a happy hour type event but after a day of interviewing people for work, all I want to do is curl up on the couch by myself and read a good book. So then, I cancel (I know, I know, I'm the worst!). I do better with one-on-one plans though! Or smaller groups where it's easier to get to know people.
What stigmas have you come across, specifically in the writing community, in terms of your extroversion/introversion?
I honestly don't think I've come across any stigmas in the writing community toward introversion. But then again, I'm also fairly new to the online writing community so maybe the stigmas are there and I just haven't noticed them yet. In general though, I've found the online writing community to be super supportive and welcoming!
How would you say your introversion/extroversion affects your writing? Does this have a positive or negative effect on you as a writer?
My introversion has both positive and negative effects on my writing. As an introvert, I think it's easier for me to make time for my writing because I enjoy spending time alone and delving into imaginary worlds. I think it would be much harder for me to make the time to write if I derived energy from the company of others because more of my time would be spent hanging out with other people. And since I don't have any writer friends who live close to me, it would be difficult to do regular in-person writing sessions where I could get that interpersonal interaction and also be writing at the same time. I'm curious to know whether extroverts truly struggle with this or whether this is just something I'm making up in my head. As an introvert, I have no idea what its like to derive energy from the company of others or how that affects daily life!
Another way I think introversion has helped with my writing is this: I much prefer to listen and write than to talk. Words don't come to me as easily in verbal form than they do in written form and this simple fact drew me to writing in the first place. It's a form of expression where I can spend the time to think carefully about what I mean and then craft a sentence/paragraph/paper conveying that sentiment. And as a listener and observer, I like to absorb what I see and hear and channel that into what I write. I certainly hope that this has made me a stronger writer over the years.
However, being an introvert can also have a negative effect on my writing because I sometimes feel like I don't experience the world enough. I feel like extroverts have so much more material to draw from when it comes to writing! But again, maybe this is just my perspective as an introvert looking through the glass at the other side.
Do you write characters with a similar personality type? If not, how do you write characters with a differing personality?
I haven't really been thinking about whether or not my characters are introverts or extroverts. With character personalities, I tend to think about them in terms of the Enneagram personality types rather than personality type categorizations that take introversion or extroversion into account (like the Myers Briggs). Enneagram personality types are based around a basic fear and basic desire, which I find immensely helpful in creating characters that feel true to a particular story I want to tell as well as creating tension between characters. All of the characters in my WIP have a different enneagram personality type than myself ( I fall somewhere between a 4 and a 5). Using the basic fear and basic desire of the different personality types, it becomes easier to extrapolate and imagine how my characters would act in each situation they find themselves in.
Does your personality affect which genre you write in?
I don't think so. I think the genre I write in has much more to do with my personal and professional experiences than the fact that I'm an introvert. I find that I like to explore the ways humans react to difference in science fiction or fantasy contexts because I already explore these types of questions in a real-world context with my non-fiction work as an anthropologist. And believe me, there are definitely both introverted and extroverted anthropologists so it's not a field that primarily attracts one personality type over the other.
How are your storylines affected by your extroversion/introversion?
I'm not sure whether my storylines are affected by my introversion but I will say that I haven't ever written any super dramatic or action-y scenes. Most of what happens in my stories are more along the lines of every day events but with certain underlying tensions and exchanges. Is this an introvert thing? The anthropologist in me wants to hand out surveys and analyze the correlation between introversion/extroversion and the types of stories we write.
How does your introversion/extroversion help or hinder your marketing of yourself as a writer? What challenges or benefits does this create?
Self promotion is SO HARD for me! Right now, I am still in the preliminary drafting stages of writing my novel and haven't gotten to the point where I need to market a book or anything like that but I think I would find it difficult once I do get to that stage. I'm grateful that social media and things like Instagram tours have become so popular because they make it possible to reach hundreds and thousands of people through written promotion alone. The thought of book tours and live readings make me super nervous! Though if I ever had an opportunity to go on one, I wouldn't turn it down. It would be an incredible opportunity! It's just something I find very nerve-wracking to think about as an introvert.
Okay, that was all of the questions that were a part of this collaboration. Thank you to Melanie and Robi for organizing this!
Now I would love to know: are you an introvert or extrovert? How do you think your personality affects your writing?
This blog was written as part of a collaboration with the following other writers:
Name: Jaq Abergas
IG handle: @jaqveganwriter
Name: Stephanie Ascough
IG handle: @stephanie.ascough
Name: Audrey Bodine
IG handle: @audrey.bo.author
Name: Lori Briggs
IG handle: @lorifbriggs
Name: Robin Davis
IG handle: @robi_victoria85
Name: Melissa Frey
IG handle: @melissafreyauthor
Name: Hollie Martin
IG handle: @ourlittlecollective
Name: Misty Wagner
IG handle: @rainydayinmay
Name: Melanie Vallely
IG handle: @verityandviolets