What are you – an extrovert or an introvert?

Someone clever once defined the difference between an introvert or an extrovert as follows:
You’re an introvert if you derive your energy from being alone; you’re an extrovert if you derive your energy from being with others.

I’ve been interested in this question with regard to writers for a while. JK Rowling is a ‘self confessed’ introvert and the question has just popped up on novelist Kate Long’s VYou video (she’s an introvert too).

It made me wonder what type of personality is most suited to the life of a writer. Obviously, introverts will more naturally cope with, (and may even thrive on), the long periods alone that writing demands. But extroverts, like bubbly writer Jane Wenham-Jones, must find that especially hard! (Although they have the advantage over introverts when it comes to contacting agents and editors, promotion – of one’s book and one’s self – networking, etc).

Let’s not mix introversion with shyness (although they do often go hand-in-hand). Although I used to be painfully shy when I was young, I wouldn’t say I am now – but I’m definitely an introvert. If I don’t have some time completely on my own every day, I go a bit ‘stir crazy’. I really crave time alone, just to think and be myself. Being with other people is often quite stressful, I find.

But having said that, I can be an extrovert if I need to be! When I teach my classes, I can’t be a shrinking violet – it just wouldn’t work. And on the odd occasion when I read my poetry at events or give a presentation, I’m fairly relaxed – but that’s just practice I think, because I’ve done a fair amount of that over the years.

So how about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert – or a mixture of both? Do you wish you were more one than the other? And how does your personality affect your ‘writing life’?

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6 Responses to What are you – an extrovert or an introvert?

  1. Based on the definition at the start of your post, I’m an introvert. Maybe that’s partly why I started writing.

  2. Definitely an introvert.
    But when you home educate 3 kids, it’s hard to get that essential introvert head-space!

  3. I go with the introvert definition as well – and also the need to get sometime alone each day too.

  4. Heather says:

    Definitely introvert but I am not as bad as I used to be! Last year I attended a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator workshop (a personality indicator) which was both fun and very enlightening as I learned so much about myself and about others. I’ve never thought about how this affects my writing but I do think there is an extrovert trying to get out sometimes. However, I am very much a behind the scenes sort of person and I also crave time alone. If I don’t get it I get niggly!

    • Heather, me too! (the niggly bit!). I too am a ‘behind the scenes’ type person. I’ve often thought that I’d like to write and/or direct a play, for example, but I have no great desire to star in one! Thanks for subscribing to my blog!

  5. rossmountney says:

    A bit late – because I don’t get here as often as I would like – but like you this is a question I often ponder. I’m definitely an introvert too and need periods alone to stay balanced. Yep – my family would agree that I get unbalanced! But I’ve often wondered how introverted writers manage the difficulty of climbing out the closet to get their books sold! I battle with this constantly. Mainly the idea that there’s no point in writing something to entertain or support others if the others never get to read it. Getting it to others is where the extrovert really helps. Perhaps writers just need split personalities!

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