The Introverted Writer

by limebirdvanessa

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it tends to be in the nature of writers to be quite introverted, and yet in the blogging world we can be the complete opposite. Writing is a pretty solitary pursuit after all. Sure we might collaborate with others on some writing projects and communicate with others at particular stages of writing, to seek opinions, critiques, or just encouragement, but the actual process of writing generally necessitates solitude. In fact we often crave those moments of solitude to be able to focus on our writing. It is no wonder therefore that writing is a popular pursuit amongst introverts.

I know from discussions on my blog, and on others, that a lot of us writer/bloggers consider ourselves to be quite shy in the real world. Speaking for myself, I have never aspired to have big groups of friends in the real world, I’m perfectly happy having just a few close friends. I’m often quite uncomfortable at parties or large social gatherings, I would much prefer to simply go out to dinner with my partner, or a couple of close friends. As long as the group is quite small, then I can chat quite comfortably and even animatedly, but as soon as the group gets too big, then I tend to withdraw and just cling awkwardly to one person.

If I’m entertaining at home, I’m a nervous wreck, and yet I love entertaining on my blog. Oh yes, on my blog I’m the hostess with the mostess. Come on over everyone, the more the merrier! And after I’ve (hopefully) entertained and interested you with my banter over at my place, I shall confidently trot over to all your places and join in the with all your discussions over there. The more blogging friends I have, the more I love it all.

I’m fairly sure that a lot of you can relate to at least some of what I’m saying here. In the blogging world we feel confident and popular, in a way that we may never have experienced in the real world, and yet there doesn’t seem to be anything fake or put on about it. It all seems to come quite naturally. I can only conclude that it is because the blogging world is all about communicating through the written word, and that is where we are most comfortable.

I’m very interested to hear people’s thoughts on this…

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75 Responses to “The Introverted Writer”

    • Hurrah! This was one of those posts where I was fairly confident that I wasn’t alone in feeling like this when I wrote it, but then afterwards started to panic that everyone would say “Nope, don’t know what you’re talking about”, hehe.

  1. I’m very similar to you Vanessa, I would definitely describe myself as shy and anxious, but if I say this to people, they look at me very much confused. With Limebird especially, as well as the videos I’ve done, I guess it would probably give the impression that I’m extremely confident. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I painfully suffer from anxiety and panic and also am more comfortable in smaller groups.

    However, in blogs and writing, I’m more confident… well that is until someone criticises me or takes what I say the wrong way, then the real insecure me comes into play. Great post Vanessa, really got me thinking. πŸ™‚

  2. This had really struck a chord with me as I also feel much happier in small groups. Also, as limebirdbeth suggests that people are shocked that she decribes herself as shy and anxious, so do people with me. I think that when people see us doing things that they consider confident, they don’t realise just how much we have had to make ourselves do the thing in the first place, if that makes sense at all. Great post.

  3. I can identify with this post. I don’t think I’m shy, although that’s how I come across. I like to perform in front of a large group, but feel nervous talking to a small group. I’m much more confident of my writing abilities than my talking ones, which is why I’m very different on my blog and elsewhere online. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

    • Yes it’s funny because I also do acting and have done some stand-up comedy, and people say I must be very confident to do all that, and yet I’m not at all, I just like to challenge myself so that I don’t turn into a hermit!

  4. I concur!. I’ve always been a wallflower, partly because I was always made fun of as a kid so I learned zilch social graces. But I’ve also been more of an observer than a talker. I guess the writer has always been in me. I just wish I’d done more with it at this ripe age of my life. πŸ™‚ I’ll get there, though. I’ll get there.

  5. It’s a wonderful place for introverted writers to show their personality. Something we don’t always find easy to do out in the world.

  6. I find I become more introverted as time goes by. I don’t want to be a “joiner”, I want to work by myself. I can depend on me. In the corporate world, I had to depend on others sometimes. I’m glad not to be there any longer. An introvert for sure. My phone doesn’t ring, my email inbox fills up with only junk. Blogging is fun, and like you say, it tends to make one feel more confident and outgoing.

    • I think I’ve become less introverted as I’ve got older, but on the other hand I also feel less inclined to fight my introverted side. I accept it as being part of the writer part of me, and instead of cursing it, I work to accommodate it.

  7. I’m not shy, but I sure am anxious. I don’t do large groups well at all. I much prefer a small group. I had to say something about the school directory at the PTA meeting last night and I couldn’t even really see while I was talking (making the powerpoint slide useless). I’m ok if it’s something academic (particularly if there’s a podium), and I”m doing public speaking, but not more casual large groups.

    • What I find most disconcerting is that it can be unpredictable, I can feel nervous or confident in situations where I expected to feel the opposite (if that makes sense!), so when I agree to do something I can’t always predict how I will feel when it comes to it!

  8. Nearly forgot – my running thesis is that most people have some social anxiety or shyness – but we mostly are good at not showing it, so others assume we are confident. This makes each person’s own uncertainty seem worse and compounds it (also doubling down the effort to hide it). Rinse & repeat.

  9. I do okay in large groups but I tend to keep quiet until I feel strongly about a topic of discussion. I prefer smaller settings and as the youngest in the family, I learned how to entertain myself a long time ago. Interestingly, I worked as a corporate trainer fro seven years. Odd that it never bothered me then.

    • I’ve always known how to entertain myself, and been quite happy spending time on my own, because I was an only child (well I have half-siblings but I never lived with them, so I grew up like an only child). I’m never sure how much of my introvertedness/shyness is as a result of that, and how much is just my personality. Sometimes I surprise myself and speak up confidently in a large group, maybe it depends on what the mix of the other personalities in the group is like, I don’t know.

  10. Blogging is wonderful isn’t it? I’ve made several really REAlly good friends that I would never have met otherwise. I’m painfully shy most of the time, I’d rather just stay at home. Wonderful post, thank you!

  11. Vanessa really has a thought-provoking post here. As writers, so much of what we do is solitary (though our characters sometimes keep us company) and yet when we’re promoting a book or speaking we’re expected to be “on”β€”witty, entertaining, informative. For an introverted writer, that can be an exhausting experience. I suppose there’s really no way of getting around it, but as writers I think we all value our time alone with our pen and notebooks (or keyboards).

    • Thank you David. Yes, we almost have to be able to cover both extremes, the solitary quiet personality, and the more public entertaining personality. I also do acting, which in theory goes against an introverted personality, and yet I believe that a lot of actors are actually introverted – they can hide behind the character and pretend to be something they are usually not!

  12. I think this is true…as Jenny said, I think most writers are “observers” rather than participators or talkers…you have to be a good observer to understand human behavior to create believable characters…

  13. When I got my book published, I was all “YAY! I’m finally an author!” This feeling was immediately followed by, “Now I have to get out there and promote my book. My God, what have I done?”

    I can function reasonably well in large group situations when I put my mind to it, but it feels unnatural, and I never, ever, seek out or look forward to such events. My natural instinct is to search out smaller, more intimate social gatherings.

    And, of course, I also find great pleasure in being alone with my thoughts. That’s why I’m a writer, after all.

    • Yes, I did a post on my own blog a while ago about Finding Nemo, and referred to the scene near the beginning where they are getting ready to go to school and they go out, and back in again, and out, and back in again. And that’s a bit of what we do, we put ourselves out there, and then shrink away again. But whatever happens, never lose the ‘Yay!’ about being published!

  14. Hammer+Nail=You’ve hit it exactly, Vanessa. (At least for my perspective.)

  15. You hit the nail on the head, Vanessa. In real life I feel like a first draft – completely sincere but awkward and messy. In the blogosphere I’m allowed as much time as I need to arrange my thoughts and put them out there in an organized manner, so I feel more confident about sharing.

  16. Well, yes, you’ve just described me, too! πŸ™‚ Small groups I can handle. Large ones make me extremely nervous and self-conscious. And there seems to be a definite trend in the comments for others to feel the same way. That’s very reassuring in many ways. πŸ™‚

  17. You have touched on something rather interesting. In a previous life I was a salesman/entrepreneur and outwardly not the shy one. But over the last decade or so, as I have spent more time trying to make sense of the world (still trying, by the way!) and then starting Learning from Dogs over three years ago, I’m sure that I have become more uncertain of myself especially in public groups. So maybe I should give up the idea of the book before I can’t even find the self-confidence to finish this ……..

  18. As an introvert, I agree with everything you said. Couldn’t have put it better. I’m so comfortable online but nothing of the sort in real life unless I’ve firmly attached my social mask.

  19. Ditto. It’s much easier to “chat” when I don’t have to do it extemporaneously. And it’s much easier to do if I can imagine that there’s no one out there who’s going to read it.

  20. So true… I’m far more outgoing than ever before in my life, but when you get to the late 50s, l lot of other stuff sort of gets out of the way of opining, even in my case, where I’ve a conviction.

  21. I feel like the odd one out here! As a young teen I was painfully shy but gradually came into my own in late 20’s…very social and willing to try new things. The marriage I reverted to some extent dealing with children and home life. Then once I found a writing group I became this new vibrant being…I love connecting with other writers whether in the physical world or the virtual one.

  22. I’m very introverted (maybe even pathologically so) but I’m also somewhat introverted in my writing as well. Sometimes I can appear quite confident on my blog but I don’t know if that’s because I’m necessarily confident with the written word, or because I’m feeling confident that I can just type/speak with no one in front of me. That doesn’t carry over to my fiction though. I have a difficult time putting myself aside and letting characters come forward.

    • It’s a constant battle isn’t it. I’ve generally been pretty confident with my blogging, but yesterday on my own blog I suddenly had a bit of a crisis of confidence after publishing a post because it was about gender issues and I started to panick about what sort of comments I might get back – I generally steer clear of anything too controversial for that reason!

  23. Whopping big DITTO, Vanessa!
    I found it interesting on the Limebird’s 50K hits video that some of the team chose to write their contribution for the video, or narrate it without showing their face.
    A writing teacher I had once said writing is a lonely pursuit. We must sit alone for hours a day slaving away at the computer, churning out our passion, as if we might all run away screaming at the prospect. I thought that’s me to a tea. I can do this. Bring it on!

    • Richard I know this isn’t my post, but it’s funny you picked up on that but randomly this was mainly down to the fact that many either were out and about so could only send me a message, or didn’t have webcams to record. Kate was also very poorly so couldn’t come on camera. hehe! Thanks for commenting (and watching!) :o)

      • Hmm. Maybe that was due to my natural desire to see my flaws in other people so I don’t feel so alone. πŸ™‚ Given the change to do something on camera I’d probably find a way to present a text version of what I have to say. Just me. I always hope there are others. Had a little inkling that there was a good reason! πŸ™‚

    • Yes, I always think that my daughter will never be a writer, not because she doesn’t have writing talent but because she is so social and extrovert and hates to be alone!

      Also, I don’t buy the ‘no webcam’ excuse for those who didn’t do a video bit on our video πŸ˜‰ most people have a video recording facility on their phone these days don’t they? That’s how I recorded mine!

      • Sounds like my daughter. She’s the only one in the family who’s not afraid to get up on stage to sing, dance and act! I’m sure she’s adopted except I saw her being born. And she has been known to have up to 6 Word docs open at the same time with stories under construction. Sadly most of it is 1D fan fiction! Gotta start somewhere I guess and any practice is worth something. πŸ™‚

  24. That’s me to a T. I have always been uncomfortable in large groups or in a one-on-one situation where I don’t know the other person very well. I prefer groups between 3-5 where I’m not pressured to always have to hold up my end of the conversation.

    Another problem I have is that I tend to stutter and be inarticulate in person. I use ‘like’ and ‘you know’ a lot — I hate it when I do that, but I know it’s because I am so self-conscious when I have a bunch of people actually paying attention to what I’m saying. You would never know I’m a writer if you had to listen to me speaking in a large group of people. I forget how to sound intelligent sometimes!

    I think the difference with blogging is that we get a chance to “think” before we speak. We can also edit our answers if we think we’re not clearly communicating our replies/comments. You also aren’t stuck in a conversation you know nothing to little about–we tend to post articles that we have some experience with, and that helps with my comfort level for sure.

    However, the one drawback to the blogging is that many times I feel the need to add lots of emoticons because I am unsure if people will know that I’m being humorous or kind or positive. In a face-to-face situation, body language comes in super-handy for me, especially because I am nowhere near as articulate in person as I am in cyberspace.

    • Yes, I agree with the other things you’ve added here – the one to one with someone I don’t know well can sometimes be worse than a large group because there is much more pressure to say something, I’m just not very good at small talk and my mind goes completely blank trying to think of of something to say! And yes, my thing is that I keep adding “you know what I mean?” and the end of every sentence, it’s a nervous thing and it really annoys me that I say it but I can’t seem to help it!

  25. Agree, agree, agree!
    On a social networking site for writes (wanatribe.ning.com), there was a thread about MBTI, and most people said they’re INTJ. I was blown away by that response.

  26. This is really accurate, well, for me. It will literally take me months to warm up to some people, but when blogging, it’s like I know everyone and it’s all great. Wonderul post and blog!

  27. Talk about hitting the nail (me) on the head. You described me to a tee. I often tell people, “I wish I was a funny in person as I am on my blog.” or “You wouldn’t want to meet me in person. I would be such a disappointment. I’m really pretty boring.”

    I love the part about being the “life of the party” on my blog, but basically being socially paralyzed at a real party I tried to host. That’s me. And I think you’re right. The blog gives me the freedom to express introverted self in a comfortable, free way that I control–the written word that has become my trusted companion.

    • Maybe we should put together written powerpoint presentations to deliver at parties rather than talking off-the-cuff, or just produce a little newsletter and hand it out and then just sit there smiling. What a party that would be eh? πŸ™‚

      • Well, I certainly would enjoy the peace and quiet (except the few expected bits of laughter at our written witticisms). And, we wouldn’t have to worry about being expected to entertain any time soon after a party like that. That would be a real plus! πŸ™‚

  28. I feel like when you’re writing or even performing (as I am a college student music major, as well), you’re in your own little world. You don’t let anybody see it until it’s finished, and sometimes, you don’t even hear feedback for quite awhile. But when you’re blogging, it’s like talking with like-minded people, because somehow the people that can relate usually find your blog, which is awesome. They “like” or comment, and you respond. If people don’t like what you have to say, they can click away. Writing also gives you time to think more than when you actually talk, which is my favorite part about blogging! Thanks for the post!

    • Yes, I perform as well as write, I’ve acted, sung and even done stand-up comedy, and yes, it is like being in your own little world of sorts. When I’m doing a blog post, I generally start composing it in my head, and then put a few notes down, and then have a couple of drafts and revisions – even if I don’t spend that long on it, I’ve still made sure it’s somewhat polished before I send it out to the world, we don’t have that luxury when we have to speak to people in the real world!

  29. I think most introverts are stimulated a lot internally so that lots of external stimulus makes us nervous. Whereas extroverts thrive off of external stimulus. Here on blogs, every interaction comes one at a time and despite having multiple people interacting with us, it’s in a very organized and soothing queue rather than ten people talking over each other at once. Just my thoughts. πŸ™‚ And yes, the writing format definitely helps. I’m better in font than in person. πŸ˜‰

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