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With slight adaptation, this post originally ran on the WordServe Water Cooler blog (www.wordservewatercooler.com), a terrific resource and community of writers.

 

My name is Olivia Newport and I am an introvert.Olivia Newport crowd on platform

I’m not a hermit. Rich relationships nourish me, and my peeps keep me buoyant. Speaking, preaching, or leading a workshop do not scare me. But they take from me, rather than give to me.

At least 25 percent of the general population are introverts and charge up during time alone. Among writers, the percentage of introverts likely rises.

The rub comes because the rest of publishing runs on a 75 percent extrovert mindset. “Why Writers Have to Market.” “50 Steps to Building Your Platform.” “Authors Must Be Speakers.” “How to Suck All the Readers in the World to Your Blog!” (Okay, I haven’t actually seen that last headline, but you know it’s a game winner.)

Um. Markets and platforms are places where hordes of people hang out. And since I don’t fuel my creative energy by hanging out with hordes of people … well, you see where this is going.

I do want to be a novelist. I do want to build an audience. I do want to be successful over the long haul.

My challenge is this: How can I accomplish these goals without feeling thrust into a 75 percent extrovert mindset that is counter-intuitive to who I am? I’m not talking about the work of learning new skills, including social media. I’m talking about being able to meet readers out of the strength of my natural introversion, rather than being squeezed to set it aside in order to play the game.

I can’t turn myself into an extrovert. I don’t even want to pretend to be one for periods of time. It’s exhausting, and how does that help? A few months ago, as I got ready to launch a website and blog, I thought a lot about how to build an online presence based on my strengths, not on rules that are a foreign language to me.

• Be present. It’s not hard to find me. You find my name, you find me. I don’t spurn social media, and I don’t make it tricky to be cyber-friends.

• Seek connection. I like people. Really. My heart rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep.

• Risk authenticity. I’m not perfect. I’m figuring life out as I live it. I love to go deep and share that experience with others doing the same.

• Build on consistency. I am a creature of habit and lists. I’m generally predictable. This will serve me well in an expanding author-reader universe.

• Celebrate being me. I’m not competing in that reality show, “She Who Dies With the Most Wins.” Embracing and celebrating the person God created me to be is the greatest gift I offer.

We all connect with people by building on strengths. Being introverted is a different sort of strength than 75 percent of the population, but it serves me well because it’s my strength and I understand it.

• Are you introverted or extroverted? How does that affect the work that you do?

 

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2 Comments

  1. Earl Morton on the March 1, 2012 remarked #

    I’m an introvert, and a writer. More precisely, I’m a technical writer, writing maintenance procedures for factory equipment. So I sit in a factory, where forklifts haul equipment down the aisle outside my cubicle. Grinders and cutoff saws are within earshot, as is the rock music the machinists play while they work. My two cube mates are project managers who get lots of visitors, often two or three at a time. All this noise reverberates off the corrugated steel wall beside my desk and the concrete floors.

    I have two ways of coping. First, I work at home one day a week. (With gas prices going up, I might ask for two days.) Second, I have some really good hearing protectors. They make everything sound about 30 yards further away, and that pseudo-buffer space is surprisingly calming.

  2. Olivia Newport on the March 1, 2012 remarked #

    Thanks, Earl. What a great description of the challenge–almost metaphorical of what it is to be an introverted writer in an extrovert setting. The hearing protectors are a good idea. Better than hearing loss, which is what I have. (see last Monday’s post!)

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