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’?