Understanding the Introverted Writer


Introvert vs. Extrovert is the current question raging across the web. Which one are you? Which one is better? Can’t we all just get along? Of course, the answer is that both are valuable, beautiful, and essential to the big-picture human community on earth. The reason that the introvert extrovert debate has become so popular lately is not because we need to figure out which one is better, but because introverts are finally finding a way to accept themselves for who they are.

So what does that really mean for introvert writers?

If you’re an introverted writer you might have read many of the recent online articles about introverts living in an extroverted world and you now know that you probably need more alone time, a quieter environment overall, and that it’s okay to give yourself a chance to think before you speak. You’ve also heard that all is not lost for introvert writers when it comes to the promotional demands of a successful writing career. You can harness the power of social media. You can connect deeply with your audience through public speaking.

This is all well and good, but what about you as a writer?

Being an introverted writer is about more than figuring out how to market yourself or mingle at author events. It’s about paying attention to your introvert needs and building your writing practice to meet them.

It’s about choosing the energy of patience.

Patience is the bedrock of successful introverts. Once you begin using patience consciously and actively in your writing practice, you will see a significant difference in the way you feel, and in the pages you produce.

You can start with slowing down the pace of your writing. Now, I do understand that sometimes it’s helpful to race against a deadline, or to try to achieve a certain hefty word count in a certain number of days. But overall, I believe that most introvert writers need a substantial amount of time for their ideas to inwardly coalesce in such a way that they can then express them in tangible form. Personally, it takes me between a year-and-a-half to two years to write the first draft of a novel. And yes, I do write very slowly, but my writing reflects a process of each piece emerging into my mind on its own creative schedule.

Introverts typically don’t like to be rushed. Feeling hurried disrupts the intense concentration that feeds our creative process. When you let go of the expectations that come along with rigid word counts and deadlines, your introvert mind can breathe and expand into its natural creative space.

Introverts also don’t like to be watched. They tend to feel a strong aversion to learning something in front of others. So for instance, if a new game is introduced, introverts would rather go off by themselves, study the rules and ways to play on their own, and then come back to the group when they feel they have a decent grasp on it. Our primary method of figuring something out is to figure it out alone. This does not mean that we will never benefit from a group setting, but that we will do much better in that group setting if we’ve had a chance to be on our own first with the project at hand.

So if you are an introverted writer, you will probably have a much better chance of success if you finish that very first sloppy draft on your own, and then bring it to a group for feedback and critique. It’s important that you’re able to let the whole work emerge from your consciousness onto the page before you seek outside guidance. In fact, some introvert writers might even benefit from revising their first draft a time or two before submitting it to first readers for suggestions.

These avenues take time. You might have writer friends who tear through their first draft, offer it up for critique just a day or two after writing it, and then do revisions in a matter of a couple of weeks. In fact, I have many writer friends who do just that. And it’s incredibly awesome to witness. I am always in awe of those artists. But it is not helpful to compare yourself to the writers who work faster if what you really need is more time.

If you’re an introverted writer who is learning how to accept yourself in the wake of the recent introvert trend, the only thing you really need to cultivate is patience. Patience with yourself, your individual creative process, and the timing of your own unique creative work.

Slow down and let go. Give yourself permission to take all the time you need.

For more articles on introverted and intuitive writers, you might be interested in:

Know Your Type, and Then Sit Down to Write
Introverts, Empathy, and the Art of Creating Character
How to Develop Characters Intuitively
Why INFJ’s and INFP’s Have Such a Hard Time with Criticism
Why INFJ’s Have Trouble Writing

And if you’re interested in learning more about introverted writers and how we work check out my book:

The INFJ Writer

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