Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hail to Introverts

I have a strange defense against my natural introversion. I force myself to be an extrovert. After all, I can catch up on my reading once I return home from an evening out. I can write after I’ve finished mingling with the crowd, matching names to faces. Being an introvert, it had been drilled into me, was not the path to success. Learning to work in a team, socializing and small talk were the ticket. Extroverts were the ones who got things done. They were the leaders who took charge and got the bacon home.

Today, there’s a whiff of change in the air. Introversion is the new IT girl. Move over small talk magicians. Get in line social butterflies. The introvert is getting all the attention. Not that we really want the attention. But from the New York Times  to Susan Cain’s new book ‘Quiet’ introverts are getting street cred that was generally reserved for the chest beaters and those artistes of self-promotion.

As summer conference season begins, many of my writer friends and I put on our extrovert hats and step out to socialize. Even without it, we’re blogging (I know! I know!), tweeting, facebooking so that we’re seen as extroverts not afraid to face the world of PR, marketing and advertising.

Is any of it going to help us become more productive as writers and focus on our own stories?  

The extroversion bias, is as Cain says, the world’s loss. We become successful writers when we sit ourselves down in our chairs, zone out the world and put words on paper/the screen. For that, we need some quiet just so that we can hear ourselves think, plot, or type the next word to make a sensible sentence. Writers, I believe, do their best work when they embrace their introvert selves.

Do we as writers do our best work, i.e, writing, when we are put into groups and make small talk? Does our creativity peak come when we’re in the midst of all the gabble? Or is it when we’re in isolation, on a quiet sunny day, like today, that we furiously type away at the keyboard?

What do you think?


  1. Yay introverts! I completely embrace my introvertism...the way I see it, if the world was full of nothing but extroverted people...it'd be a really annoying place, =/. We need the balance, and I'm more than happy to play my part!

    But introverts can be successful even in roles extroverts are typically seen to play. I am a quiet leader. Over and over again in my life, I enter into something as the quiet girl who sticks to herself and doesn't bother others. And quietly...quietly...I become the one in charge!! Not sure how it happens, but it always does, and I just noticed this past week that it's happened again at my work right now, =)

    Some people probably get really creative in public, while others need complete isolation to tap into that idea-flowing mindset. I just think the important thing is to know who you are, deal with what's thrown at you (need to make yourself known at a PR event? Take a deep breath and do it!), but never shy away from your inner intro/extrovertness. After all, it's you, and what can be better than that, =)

    1. Mere Joyce, my sentiments exactly! I think as long as we're aware and comfortable with our spectrum of intro/extro-vertedness, we could just about do anything. Including those PR events!

  2. Here! Here! for the introverts. A long time ago, writers weren't required to brand themselves as actors always did. And thus, getting "out there" was not as important. But times sure have changed and to get your story out there, it requires a great story AND presenting yourself to the world whether it be through book signings or through social media or whatever. The good news is that you have a bunch of choices and you can find one or more that don't scare the living daylights out of you :)

  3. I'm an introvert and proud of it! Of course, there are times to play extrovert; other people are alive and it's not healthy to totally block them out. But that's not impossible for us introverts :) After all, an introvert is not automatically shy. It just means that we are very comfortable alone - by ourselves.

    1. That's such a great point! So many people confuse shyness for quiet when really we prefer to be our dazzling selves when no one is watching