Hello SE friends, Gwen with you today, and together we’ll be exploring how extroversion or introversion affects our writing. Let’s begin with a story.
My husband and I are regulars at Panera Bread. With masks on and social distancing practiced, it’s a setting where we relax and chat about the latest crisis of the day. Whenever we go, I’m amazed to see a number of writers tapping away on their laptop – while music plays and people converse six feet away. It’s these writers who prompt my post today.
I’m fascinated by those who can write amid storms of any kind. These Panera colleagues sit with their coffee and breakfast roll, and when their phone rings, they laugh freely and enjoy the brief exchange. After goodbyes, they’re back to writing – unfazed. And when someone walks by, they often look up and say hello, and may even chat a bit before they return to tapping.
I marvel at these unknown writers, because they do what I cannot do.
I need silence when I write. I need to focus on the story that tugs at me. If a phone call disrupts my train of thought, when I return to writing, I must reread what I written and start over again. The same is true if my husband stops by to tell me about the woodpecker outside. I enjoy the excitement, but before I start writing again, I must reread what I’ve written and start again. This pattern is an integral part my day. Starts and restarts. But somehow the writers in Panera aren’t affected in the same way.
In the 1920s, psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung identified how each of us faces into the world through a particular lens. He created a scale that measured opposite ways of seeing, or perceiving, or experiencing. The first of these scales is a measurement of Extroversion and Introversion. I suspect that at least some of the Panera writers are extroverts, as they seem to enjoy all the signs and sounds of life around them. They are energized by people and untroubled by interruptions.
Like many writers, I’m an introvert. My thoughts travel from head to heart to tummy and back again, and if I lose sight of that busy route, I retrace my steps. It isn’t that I’m unaware of the chirps outside my window, but I’m more focused on finding just the right word to capture some hidden truth.
The difference between extroverts and introverts is that the first is energized by social interaction, and the latter is refreshed by the interior world. My fantasy writing place is tucked away, far from phones or other distractions, a place where I can see the horizon and otherwise enjoy silence. How about you?
If you are unsure whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, you can go to this site and take a short test. I’ve found Dr. Jung’s typology scale both intriguing and freeing. We all have aspects of both types, but knowing the lens through which we dominantly perceive reality can help us structure our writing experience.
There’s no right or wrong, no good or bad, we’re born extroverted or introverted.
Below is a chart I created that attempts to identify some of the characteristics common to introverted and extroverted writers. I’d love to hear if you can relate to any of these points.
|Writing environment that provides:||Outside stimulation: writing in a public areas, music, frequent social breaks.||Silence: a place to concentrate, to listen to the voice within, to keep on track.|
|Processes information by:||Talking through ideas and brainstorming possibilities, social activities.||Taking time to think through feedback and consider alternatives.|
|A learning style that:||Seeks a general understanding and then moves on.||Relies on research and digs deep.|
|A communication style that:||Talks more than listens. Seeks out others when stressed. Prefers doing things with groups.||Listens more than speaks. Manages stress by withdrawing. Prefers doing things alone.|
|Approaches marketing:||As a challenge and adventure.||As a dreaded but necessary process.|
It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. With my next visit, we’ll dive into Jung’s Sensing and Intuitive scale, as it relates to writers. Till then, I hope you have a great week!