This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. As I expand my online presence as a writer, and push my career forward, I have had to make a lot of changes, and forget about my comfort level.
I’m not quite sure how a field that has evolved to require authors to perform more marketing on their own has drawn so many introverts, but I know I’m not alone. The best explanation of the difference between an introvert and extrovert is how they recharge. In other words, in public an introvert might look and act like an extrovert, which some people are surprised by, but they need to be alone to recover from the exertion it takes to interact with other people. By comparison, an extrovert feels recharged when they are around people. Hanging out with a group of friends is relaxing for them.
I didn’t think it was a big secret that I was an introvert, and I thought my social awkwardness was a fairly good clue. But since I’ve been contemplating the struggle of being an introvert and a writer, I’ve started talking to people about it. Here’s the surprising thing that I’ve discovered, it turns out I’m not socially awkward. I just think I am.
In fact, the overwhelming response I’ve received when talking to people about this, is surprise. No one knew I had this struggle. I’ve been told I come across as compassionate, genuine, and funny. Although if I were to wish how I acted when I conversed with people, those would be the things I’d like to achieve. But let me tell you how the interaction happens from my perspective. Someone approaches me and starts talking. My brain tells my mouth to respond without my mouth receiving the message, my eyes fully dilate, and my heart starts pounding. Then when my mouth starts working, inside my head there’s a five-alarm fire and people are running around screaming. I don’t know about you, but this imagery makes me laugh and depicts the sheer panic I feel. It’s nice to make light of the situation when I’m not in the middle of it.
Some of you may even be surprised to know that I also had this same panicked reaction to posting comments on other people’s blogs. For those of you who don’t get to see my novel-length comments I leave other writers, I comment regularly. But this was way outside of my comfort zone. As was this blog. For the longest time, I would feel panicked the day my blog posts came out. The whole day.
Despite all of this, I push myself all the time to do these things that make me uncomfortable, because having a career as an author is more important to me than feeling like I have things calm and under control. Plus, there’s a reason I write posts that I think will help other writers. I’m drawn to helping other people, and I feel like if I can help them through talking about my own struggles, or sharing tips and shortcuts of what I’ve learned so they don’t have to spin their wheels finding the same information, than I feel satisfied.
My author platform isn’t a gimmick. I have such a passion for writing that is stronger than all of my fears. When I decided supporting other writers satisfied my desire to help other people, I realized it made me feel more complete to have these two things about my personality come together. I had to shift my thinking a bit and not worry about all the competition there is for getting published, and this works much better for me.
I’m aware that it’s a little naive to think that I can share my passion and encourage other people to pursue theirs, or that I can make a difference in someone’s life by sharing my work, my journey, and things I’ve learned about writing. But I believe that while some things may seem improbable, they’re still worth the effort. I may not be able to change the world, but maybe I can make a ripple.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does it affect your life as a writer? Are there any other aspects of your personality that make it challenging to be a writer? How do you work through it?