Are You an Introvert? Are All Writers Introverts?

Are all writers introverts?

Before reading further, please check out this short article by William Pannapacker.  This was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education last week (April 2012).

Are you an inward-thinker?  Do you get your energy from inside rather than outside?  Do large groups intimidate you?  Do you need to warm up to people before speaking with them?  

If so, you might be an introvert.

Now, as far as I understand it, introverts can have extrovert traits and vice-versa.  You don’t have to be 100% one or another, and, as discussed in the article, introverts can grow comfortable “pretending” to be open and forthright.  I’ve done that.

In high school, I was a leader.  This is a quality of an extrovert.  As dorky as it may sound, I was proudly the drum major of the marching band, and this meant that I had to speak loudly, address 180-plus people at a time, and be comfortable with screwing up in front of them all.  I had to appear to be an extrovert.

I’m really an introvert, though.  I’ve always been a big thinker and found solace with myself, even as a child.  When I entered college, the introvert qualities arose again.  I spoke with a near-whisper in my classes, especially the creative writing classes that were so dear to me, and this did not serve me well.  I was deducted points because I did not speak up enough in class, and that changed me.  Afterward, you couldn’t shut me up.

I had to assert myself in giving my opinion during critiques.  I had to assert myself to get into the literary club.  I had to assert myself to earn my teachers’ attention, inwardly screaming “listen to me!!” at the top of my lungs.

After school, though, I was perfectly happy retiring to a book (likely required reading), starting an essay a couple of weeks early, and having silly conversations with my roommates.  Yes, I went out to concerts, parties, and other people-rich venues as I grew more bold and made more friends, but in my quieter stage I was basically afraid of loud noises.  I was afraid of being judged–who isn’t?  I found comfort in the familiar and wanted to stay there.

Boy, though, when I got a taste of what was outside my bubble, I was hooked.  Those concerts and parties and A’s became worth the fear of speaking out.  Best of all, they gave me experiences and ideas for my stories and poems!

Do you have to be an introvert to be a writer?  Of course not.  Are most writers introverts?  Probably.

In our society, as the article suggests, extroverts have the power.  I need to do more reading on the topic because I find it so fascinating.  Some books are suggested in the article.  If you consider yourself an introvert, have you ever had to step out of that mindset in order to gain something?

Is the reverse true, that extroverts ever need to act as introverts, perhaps to do well on an inward-focused assignment such as an assignment to write a memoir?

Oh, and do you hate group work?  Most introverts do.  However, extroverts thrive in such a community.

This is where teachers like me face a conundrum: how do we best serve all of the students?  

Do you have any ideas?


About Em-dash Lady

Em-dash Lady enjoys creative writing most of all, but her interests include art forms from music to writing to visual art to indie films and so forth. She's especially interested in how the art forms influence each other and blend together. She's a creative writing teacher and writer who mostly writes memoir and poetry about her favorite activity, watching TV. I would say I'm kidding, but I'm not. Naps are also her favorite. Too many favorites to count! Enjoy following Em-dash Lady as she figures out how she fits in the ever-evolving world of art.
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