For years, I believed I was an extrovert. Once I became a writer, I learned that this wasn’t true. I am an introvert writer.
Why Did I Think I Was an Extrovert?
Growing up, I believed I was an extrovert. As a small child, I was singing on stage, performing in front of crowds. It was thrilling to be up there and entertain people. When you begin a life on stage at six years old and it is something you did most weekends with practices during the week, your true introvert self doesn’t get a chance to surface. Butterflies in the stomach are thought of as “pre-show jitters”, not that one doesn’t want to be on stage. And I never didn’t want to be up there. I loved it. reality has hit me that I am not an extrovert at all.
People assume being an extrovert means wanting to be in front of people. They are the people who are the lift of the party. They draw attention to themselves. High energy. In a crowd, on stage and now in meetings at work, I can be high energy. I can draw attention to myself when I need to. But that is the catch. It is on a need-to-do basis.
Being an Extrovert is Draining
The reality has hit me that I am not an extrovert at all, but I can be if I need to. This was brought to my attention at work. Our team underwent personality tests to better understand each other and how we can be stronger as a team. After living my life believing I was an extrovert, I nearly fell off my chair when the description said I was an introvert.
Right then and there I had a mini identity crisis. I used to tell everyone that I was an extrovert. In fact, I was quite proud to be an extrovert. Suddenly, I wasn’t one. I felt there was something wrong with the test until the facilitators reviewed the results with me. It said that in front of people, I am an extrovert. It is what I show others and will be high energy, but when I am at home that extrovert side bottoms out. I end up spending my home time recharging because it takes a lot of energy to be high energy.
It all started to make sense. My husband could never understand why I could be out somewhere and be friendly and engaging with folks and then not want to book my calendar full of visits with friends during the week. One outing was enough for me. I really didn’t want to have to engage with more people. I was tired.
Identifying Myself as an Introvert Made Sense
After learning I was an introvert, I had to figure out what that meant. Like most people, I associated being an introvert with being shy. I am certainly not shy. What it means for me is I recharge in situations where I am alone. I enjoy gardening where I can think about all the creative ideas while pulling weeds out of the ground. I can paint a fence for seven hours (did that this past weekend) and be happy to have no interruptions. It gives my brain a break from having to engage with others opinions or needs. It truly is revitalizing. Once I have a good recharge, I can re-engage.
Our family is involved in activities that put me in many people engaging situations and I work full-time. There was a point where I felt that I was going to fall apart since I couldn’t get any alone time. I felt worn down and sick. It was a fight to keep scraping together what energy I could find with no end in sight. I finally hit the pause button and went camping for three days… by myself. No husband or kids. It was me, the deer and the wild turkeys. What a wonderful break that was and I have said I need to do it every year.
I was told by some people that they couldn’t understand needing to take a break like that. They could never feel that they needed to be away from family or friends and isolate. Those people obviously aren’t introverts or be an extremely drained introvert. I had worked hard to force myself to be an extrovert and my life needed me to continue to act like one, but I needed to be an introvert for a bit. It was healthy for me, whereas that would have driven an extrovert crazy.
Being an Introvert Writer
Now I am fumbling along, trying to figure out what it means to be an introvert writer. The process of writing and being an introvert comes naturally. It is not hard for me to get caught up in the world I’m writing about. I love the process of creating. Where I struggle is with marketing. Somehow, I need to get myself and my writing out there. I have read books on marketing and know what I should be doing, but to do it is a whole other matter.
My extrovert husband thinks it should be easy to talk about my book. I should know it better than anyone and be excited to tell the world I’m a published author. For me, I don’t want to bother people with my “interests”. I convince myself they don’t want to hear about it and I don’t want to come across as pushy. Who wants to be a friend with someone who is trying to sell them something all the time?
I believe in my novel. I love the characters and the series arc, but I am a terrible marketer. The library has offered that if I give them a copy, they’ll put it on display to highlight local authors. Do you think I’ve given them a copy? Why is that?
Introvert Writers Are Not Alone
While introverts like to be alone, introvert writers are not. There are more of us. A high number of writers are introverts and there are now books being written targeting introvert writers like us. Imagine how excited when I read The Introvert Writer: Being Your Creative Best By Being Your Truest Self by by Jamie Arpin-Ricci (available here).
It was as if the author had written the book just for me when he described being an introvert and a writer. He talks about the struggle with needing to market a book. There was something energizing in reading about other introvert writers. It is motivating. Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can put a plan together.
Being an introvert writer doesn’t hold me back and shouldn’t. It means I need tools to market. I need to recruit my husband to do all the hard “sale” stuff and then I need to do the follow-through… such as delivering the book to the library. I need to balance the recharging with the hard marketing stuff. It is something I need to do and I can do. It isn’t an all the time thing. I need to dip into the extrovert pool and retreat.
Dip and retreat. Hmm… that’s rather catchy. I might use it more often.
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