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What Type of Writer Are You? Part 3

Most writers are introverts. That’s just the nature of the beast. Writers spend a lot of time alone and palely loitering over their pads of paper or keyboards. 

Introversion is not shyness or social anxiety. Those are fear-based psychological conditions.

I suspect there are more introverted editors, because they are usually confined in a cubicle or freelancing at home. Editing is tedious, lonely work. 

It’s easy to tell whos's who at writing conferences. Introverted Jane tends to hang with the people she knows. She scans the crowd looking for familiar faces, or brings her buddies with her. She meets internal resistance when asked to pitch or take the microphone. That doesn’t mean she isn’t interesting or a witty conversationalist. 

Once the ice has been chipped, she is eager to talk about what she loves most: writing and reading. She isn’t there to compete. She is there to absorb. She is interested in what other people are writing. She enjoys the individual exercises and lectures but struggles to share in public. 

She attends the workshops to hone her craft. She enjoys meeting other introverted writers. It’s the self-promotion and exposing herself to public scrutiny that gives her ulcers. Jane may shun the bar after dinner, unless her friends go with her. Even then, she is likely to seek a table in a back corner. Jane leaves the conference drained and in need of a vacation. If she received negative feedback or criticism, she will ruminate in private or sound off to her trusted circle.

Extroverted writers are in the minority, mainly because they are not natively drawn to long periods of pondering and working in solitude. They tend to be sports or comedy writers, but can show up in any genre. 

Dick writes for the recognition or impact. He wants to be the next J. K. Rowling. There are extroverted agents and marketing professionals present too. 

Even if the agents, presenters, and editors are introverted, they are forced to schmooze and perform in an extroverted way. Extroverts thrive on it and are easy to spot. The introverted ones can be painfully awkward to watch.

Dick loves the limelight. He flits from table to table, introducing himself to perfect strangers. He hogs the microphone and loves publicly reading his work. He likes watching the other conference attendees. He likes talking about them as well as to them. He is more interested in who you know than what kind of writing you do. He is there to network and promote himself.

Dick finds it hard to focus on the individual exercises. He is easily bored and can be highly competitive. He likes the voting, the rah-rah, and the woo-woo. He likes winning. Dick is concerned about his image. He wants to fit in. He eagerly pitches his ideas to other people. He may never write them. 

He is found networking at the bar after dinner long after dinner. Dick leaves the conference humming with energy. If he received negative feedback or criticism, he leaves fuming and vents to everyone about it.

The Dicks at the conference struggle with all the Janes. Extroverts tend to think introverts are boring loners. He couldn’t be more wrong, but that is his general impression. He thinks they are an unfriendly bunch, especially if they don’t eagerly embrace his overtures. He flits until he finds the extrovert’s table.

The Janes at the conference are annoyed by the Dicks. They think the extrovert tables are too loud and rude. They may very well discourage Dick from landing at their table. They will cross the room to avoid his.

Every writer must shore up his weak side. Jane is forced by the very nature of a conference to step outside her comfort zone. She is put on public display and forced to interact with people outside her inner circle. She must sell herself as well as her work. It feels slightly dangerous, but she is in good company.

Dick finds the conference slightly confining. He may not find an audience for his bubbling repartee. He may feel silenced or marginalized for the first time in his career. It isn’t a comfortable sensation. He may be rebuffed, left to bounce around the room like a loosed helium balloon.

Each needs to take pity on the other. They should spend a little time getting to know one another. Opposites can help each other grow. Dick can help Jane learn to network and put her best foot forward. Jane can help Dick learn the pesky details of craft. Both have something worthwhile to offer and to say. Getting Dick to sit down and Jane to speak up is the challenge.

Next week, we will continue to explore writer temperaments.

For more tips on how to craft believable characters, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict available in paperback and E-book, and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook, also available in paperback and E-book.

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