The care and feeding of an introvert

Because that novel isn't going to delay itself

The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Mira » 18 Aug 2010, 08:51

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of my favorite non-fiction books explained the Myers-Briggs typology and how helpful that was to me. I was thinking about that more, and probably the most liberating part for me was realizing what an introvert (like me) really needs.

Many writers are introverts, and I thought it might be helpful to share this, for those who are interested.

According to this system, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is this:

Introvert: They tend to lose energy over time while they are with people, and gain energy over time when they are alone. Attentive to the inner landscape.

Extrovert: They tend to lose energy over time while they are alone, and gain energy when they are with people. Attentive to the external landscape.

There's a scale:
10........1
Extrovert

10........1
Introvert


Depending on where you fall on the scale, you'll have qualities of both, but the energy gain is important. It made all the difference for me to realize that as an introvert, I absolutely need time alone to recharge energy.

Since there are less introverts than extroverts, so there can be alot of pressure on introverts not to spend time alone. But we HAVE to, or we're continually feeling drained and start to resent the intrusion. It's not personal, and when I understood that I could let people close to me know that it was just my make-up. When I gave myself permission to spend time by myself to re-charge, it was heavenly.

Thought I'd share that. I have thoughts too about social networking and the pressure on introverts (many writers are introverts) but I thought I'd bring that up with another post.

Anyway, don't know if anyone was interested, but I thought I'd share it.
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Heather B » 18 Aug 2010, 09:05

I can honestly say I don't know which I am. I need my alone time but I also need to constantly be around people. I can't sit and write all day if I know I'm not doing anything that afternoon and at the same time I can't go out/go shopping/do coffee if I know my day will be full of company. Very weird. And when I comes to energy, I get it from a lot of different places...
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Mira » 18 Aug 2010, 09:11

Well, some people are sort of in the middle and may need a good balance.

And it's not like introverts don't get lonely, we need people just like everyone else. And extroverts need time alone too to re-ground.

But I'm a HUGE introvert. And I know for me, if I spend too much time with people, it flattens me out. I have to have time alone. And when I understood why, it was so permission-giving! It's not that I don't care about people, I just need my alone time. That may be one of the reasons why many writers are introverts. We like to spend time alone. :)



Sorry if this is kind of a weird topic. I just found it helpful and wanted to share.
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Sommer Leigh » 18 Aug 2010, 10:25

Mira, I think this is a wonderful topic. Thank you for bringing it up.

In my life, I have been both. It was when I was an extrovert that I wanted to be a writer but did not write. I literally fed off the energy of other people. Being home was like a death sentance: the moment I was alone I started to deflate. I was one of those annoying friends that called everyone until someone was willing to spend an hour chatting on the phone about whatever. I was one of those people who texted friends to say I was going to the coffee shop at 9pm and anyone who wanted to join me should. My friends fed off of my energy too.

I have no earthly idea what caused my switch to flip, but at some point being around people made me crazy. I could take them in small groups, preferably one-on-one and I quickly burnt out on their attention. I didn't start recharging till I was home alone. It's then I was most productive. It was only after I switched sides that I actually thought of myself as a writer because I was actually writing.

And no one understands this. That I would rather spend my time alone reading, writing, designing graphics for my website, or blogging baffles people. I used to be constantly bombarded with pressure to go out. Most of my friends have gotten the message by now, but in those early days family and friends didn't understand the need for comforting alone time.

But what I also understand is that while introverts want their alone space, but they need people too. They just need people on their own terms in a different way than extroverts. And there is nothing wrong with this.

So anyway, that was a long story just to say Thanks for posting this!
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby dios4vida » 18 Aug 2010, 16:25

I'm with you Mira, I'm a huge introvert. I tried to be extroverted when I was a teenager but I could never manage it. A few hours with people and I'm drained physically and emotionally. All I can think about it going home to my cats and books and just veg.

I'm lucky that I married another introvert - he isn't as bad as I am but he'd much rather stay home and play video games than go into town and meet with friends. We have among the most quiet and boring lives in existence, but it's just the way we like it.

It's very refreshing to learn that others are like me and would really rather be alone than with people. :)

And Mira, just because I hate mispronouncing peoples' names (even in my head), is it M-EE-ra or M-I-ra?
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby cheekychook » 18 Aug 2010, 21:00

In case anyone else wants to take the test and find out their Myers-Briggs Personality Type...

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

I debated about posting it, but I'm an ENFJ, I couldn't resist. ;)

Incidentally, I first took this test when I was in high school (20+ years ago) and I was, at the time, very strong on the Introvert scale...I retook it many times, several years apart, and by the time I was in my late 20s I had completely shifted over to a strong Extrovert.

Looking back, the difference in my scores had very little to do with what I wanted---it had to do with what I was capable of at the time. I have always had a dominant need to be around people---I don't ever crave alone time, really. The way I look at it is I'm with myself all the time, and in my head I never shut up, so why on earth would I need more time with me than I already have?

I felt that way even when my Introvert score was high---I was just too shy at that time of my life to seek out as much interaction as I craved. I'm not sure what gave me the courage to eventually be bolder about social interaction, but I'm glad it happened, because I was an unhappy Introvert---a closeted Extrovert, basically.

As far as how this applies to writing, I find that interesting as well. I've written all my life, but it wasn't until I swung over to the Extrovert side that I began to share my writing with others. In school I even had a hard time handing in stoies/screenplays/etc to my professors---sharing them aloud in class or exchanging them with other students was beyond my capabilities. It wasn't until I got older, and more extroverted, and got involved with blogging/posting/writing groups that I finally became comfortable with other people reading my writing.

Granted, a lot of computer writing is done under a protective guise---there's some distance there (enough to keep my residual introvert feeling safe)---but it's still something I wouldn't have been able to do years ago (and not just because the internet didn't exist yet at the time!).
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Aimée » 19 Aug 2010, 15:46

I'm an INFJ. So introverted and sympathetic and sad.
I feel like writer's back in the day were all very reclusive. But nowadays more extroverted people are writing. I guess that means that less crazy people are publishing, which is probably a good thing for the mental health of the readers. :)
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Margo » 19 Aug 2010, 17:05

Aimée wrote:I'm an INFJ. So introverted and sympathetic and sad.


Not sad! INFJ's are cool, IMNSHO. The links at the end of the test say lots of cool things about INFJ's, including the fact that only a little over 1% of people fit that combination.

And thanks to Mira for the topic and to cheekychook for posting the link to the test. I haven't taken that in years.
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Heather B » 19 Aug 2010, 19:58

First time I've done the test and it's told me I'm an ENFP. I guess I don't have to wonder whether I'm an introvert or extrovert any more. Apparently the 'Idealist Champion' (awesome name by the way) is only 2-3% of people. I quite like those odds. :D
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Nathan Bransford » 19 Aug 2010, 20:05

Don't forget my favorite site for introverted writers: Shrinking Violet Promotions
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Quill » 19 Aug 2010, 20:06

I made it through half the personality test before giving up, because too many of the questions, as worded, had no accurate (or even better of two) answer for me.
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Regan Leigh » 19 Aug 2010, 20:21

I'm an INFJ. (I feel like I've said that on here before.) ;)

And Quill, you should see the real Myers Briggs test! It's completely overwhelming in the number of questions, but it's very accurate in personality assessment. (As accurate as a test can be... ;))
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Heather B » 19 Aug 2010, 20:26

Quill wrote:I made it through half the personality test before giving up, because too many of the questions, as worded, had no accurate (or even better of two) answer for me.


I completely agree. One of the questions was 'Would you rather read a book or go to a party?' I mean, it just all depends on what book, which friend, what type of party etc. In the end I went with read because I know none of my friends are dumb enough to schedule a party on a book release date.
I found the quiz and the assessment interesting though.
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Margo » 20 Aug 2010, 08:00

Heather B wrote:Apparently the 'Idealist Champion' (awesome name by the way) is only 2-3% of people. I quite like those odds. :D


And the Counselor (INFJ) is only a little over one percent. I'd be curious to know how many writers, and how many artists of other types, fall into the very small categories. And who the heck are the rest of the people, and what happens if you poke them with a stick?
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Re: The care and feeding of an introvert

Postby Margo » 20 Aug 2010, 08:02

Quill wrote:I made it through half the personality test before giving up, because too many of the questions, as worded, had no accurate (or even better of two) answer for me.


Ah, go on, try it again. When that happened for me I just tried to decide which is the answers was true more often, and I ended up with results that fit me exactly.
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