Introverts unite

In my list of advice for practising but as-yet-unpublished writers, I discussed things that you might do, or attitudes you might take. But what I should perhaps have mentioned is the matter of temperament.

Temperament is a vague, catch-all term, I know, but it seems to me that most published writers share a particular kind of temperament, one that involves having an attitude of tenacious patience, if I might put it like that. It was because I was lacking in tenacious patience that I didn’t publish until I was 30*: before that, I could barely sit still, let alone pay writing the kind of attention it needed.

Being an introvert is also useful. If you’re not sure which you are, ask yourself, a la Dorothy Rowe, whether you are recharged by being around others, or by being alone. If the answer is the latter, you’re an introvert, or at least on the introvert side of the continuum. The world is not very accommodating to introverts (why can’t we all work from home, I ask?!), but introversion is an asset for writers, for obvious reasons.

(Update: my writing friend Karen Cunningham referred me to this, which is one way of finding your introvert factor, amongst other things. Thanks Karen!)

In other news, I am almost 60,000 words into The V Girls, and am doing my best not to think about all the work I’m going to have to do when the draft is done. I’ve also been very disturbed by writing the story one of the characters, who is recovering from trauma: I’ve learned that if I am not immersed in the story, the result is shallow and unsatisfying. So I have to let myself feel the character’s feelings, and it’s icky. The literary equivalent of method acting, I guess. If somebody has advice on how to write authentically minus the angst, I would be most grateful.

* In any case, writers are not like pop musicians: writers generally get better with age, whereas the loss of youthful drive seems to detach musos from their target audience. Personal opinion only, of course.

3 thoughts on “Introverts unite

  1. Anonymous

    INtroversion/extroversion and the HSP trait

    A very interesting topic Julia and one close to my heart. I struggled for a long time with traditional definitions of ‘introversion’/’extroversion’ and ‘temperament’- they just never sat comfortably. Then along came a woman called Elaine N. Aron who has put my life (and I daresay that of many creative people) into some perspective and led me to believe that the terms ‘extroversion’ and ‘introversion’ may be something of a misnoma.

    Elaine Aron expands on the inroversion/extroversion thing in her book The Highly Sensitive Person, in which she looks at certain characteristics which are common to about 15-20% of the population, although there is a sliding scale for the population as a whole and of course it manifests itself uniquely for each person. One of the characteristics typically shared by those who identify with the ‘HSP’ trait, is that we need solitary time like we need air to breath, and are often highly creative (a lot of ‘HSPs’ are writers).

    One of the complicating factors is that 35% of ‘HSPs’ are actually extroverts. I found this all incredibly validating, as I definitely have a highly developed capacity for extroversion…but a relatively low threshold for being with crowds of people, relative to most people I know (I suffer from what Aron calls ‘overarousal’ which is another way of saying overstimulation or being drained by social activities, even those I enjoy). It’s not so much ‘what’ as ‘how much’ although I’m pretty aversive to loud music and urban landscape noise (low threshold for traffic, sirens and industrial noise)for even short bursts.

    I also tend to need lots of rest, am seldom bored in my own company and prefer to work for myself from home. Although I need and miss having some sort of social life, the thing I most miss and crave if it’s absent from my life (which it often is, now that I am a parent of a young child and living in a community setting) is time out and personal space (to create, reflect, rest, write or whatever) which recharges my batteries.

    There’s more (including the list of typical HSP characteristics) on http://www.hsperson.com , Elain Aron’s website, if you’re interested.

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  2. Anonymous

    introversion/extroversion and the HSP trait

    …by the way, the comment on HSPs was written by Ginny Webb (I think my comment posted anonymously!)

    Ginny

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