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?