Introverts unite

by | Nov 29, 2009

In my list of advice for practising but as-yet-unpublished writers, I discussed things that you might do, or attitudes you might take.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.

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