Are writers by nature anti-social? Is this why we write?
This month, I was supposed to be blogging Part Two of my Spring Clean-Up post, with the focus of how edited my collection of fiction. We.ell, as so often happens with any type of cleaning in my house, I’ve started, so I’ll not finish. Tra la! My butterfly mind hops on to a different track.
What interrupted my Clean-Up blog? An interesting piece from the Huffington Post, about Introverts.
Now, I’m not a fan of labels for people, in any form. We can only pin people down for a very short time. In the next moment we’re different. Influenced by something in our environment, we change our minds, we learn and grow, we evolve, as written in stone as blobs in a lava lamp.
Yet, this piece on Introverts really spoke to me, because I recognised myself and for the first time acknowledged my weirdness as perfectly normal. There, I've said it! I've come out! I'm an Introvert! Finally. In my seventh decade. Better late than never! Now I can forgive myself for being a party pooper, for hating the telephone, for not especially loving foreign travel, for feeling a transport of joy to be home again, with my own chair, mug, pillow. For wanting to be alone, completely alone, to write.
Of course, I do like socialising, occasionally, but not for long. My best friend and I used to meet for just an hour every week, which was perfect. I’m not sure I could handle a writer’s retreat, for example, with other writers. Too much stimulus! Too much strangeness and social effort. I still feel guilty about that, because I do love people and when I'm feeling brave and strong, I like meeting them.
Here’s an extract from the Huffington Post article, with comments from fellow introverts and my own reactions in brackets.
Introverts aren't a bunch of awkward killjoys who don't like to have a good time. In fact, many introverts enjoy going to parties where they'll be with people they feel comfortable with.
What can be so grating about large gatherings is the overstimulation. Introverts feel exhausted by small talk and prefer more intimate conversations.
(TRUE: I’m sooo bad at small talk, which has led to endless embarrassing moments. At my first publisher’s party, I was introduced to an eminent writer who had given me a good review. trying not to be reticent, I shouted ‘I LOVE YOU!’ at him and enfolded him vigorously in a warm embrace. Der.)
Introverts need time to recharge, but they still want to be with their friends after they've snagged that alone time. They're not anti-social; they're selectively social.
"Just because nine times out of 10, I decline your invitation, does not mean I want you to stop inviting me.”
Introverts rarely spout off the first thing that comes to their minds. This quiet reflection is a hallmark of this personality type and is quite the opposite of their extroverted counterparts, who speak their thoughts affirmatively and quickly.
(TRUE. It takes me ages to form an opinion I want to share.)
Introverts are more likely to opt for the aisle seat, rather than the middle to avoid being surrounded on all sides. This allows them an opportunity to remove themselves from a situation in order to recharge if they need to.
You just have to ask them first.
(NAH : I hug people all the time! You don’t need to ask. Just hug. )
Shyness and introversion are often used synonymously, but as introverts are quick to point out, they're not the same thing. Introverts don't always fear social settings, they just place value on smaller, more meaningful social interactions -- and they're perfectly fine with remaining in that comfort zone.
(TRUE. I love meeting up with my small groups of friends. Four's a good number, then you can catch up properly with everybody.)
A quiet demeanor does not equate to a haughty attitude. When introverts don't overly contribute to a conversation, it's usually because they're being more observant than participatory.
"Me being quiet has nothing to do with you.it doesn't mean I'm being rude and it doesn't mean I am snobby... It's nothing I can control and though I am very aware of it, I can only push myself so far until I'm past uncomfortable [and] tolerable."
(TRUE - L)
Many people look at introversion as a character flaw, when in reality, introverts like their quieter demeanour and have no interest in changing.
(TRUE-ISH – I thought I had a character flaw and for many years have tried to change.)
Introverts are typically averse to open office plans and sometimes can experience challenges navigating an ideal working environment. Finding quiet spaces, only attending crucial meetings and having routine check-ins with co-workers can help ease those office roadblocks, according to
"I tend to shrink back in work meetings where multiple people are brainstorming out loud, but that doesn't mean I don't care about the topic being discussed or that I'm not paying attention. “ I just need some time to mull over my thoughts before I present them to a crowd."
(TRUE. Wish I’d realised this before I went for all those interviews for jobs I didn’t get and the demoralising debriefings afterwards )
Out-of-the-blue phone conversations tend to feel intrusive to introverts, which may result in them screening your call.
"Talking on the phone can be a form of torture. Please don't take offence that I'll text you back rather than call you. It's not you, it's me!"
(TRUE! I know..I'm sorry..)
Big parties where introverts are the center of attention = A big no-no.
y few close friends for a quiet evening of games, wine and conversation.”I'd much rather have m
Introverts tend to be in tune with their surroundings, and as a result they may pick up on subtleties of conversations and moods that their louder counterparts may not pick up on.’
(TRUE – I think.)
What do you think? Is this you, too?