Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ten Ugly Introverted Writer Secrets—that we're far too introverted to tell you

Once another writer argued with me that I was not an introvert. "You're friendly," she said. "You like people." "You're not shy, or socially awkward."

The definition of Introvert that I identify with is simply someone who needs to be alone to recharge. Being with other people for any length of time exhausts me. All the things I bring to the table when I'm with people can vanish in a flash when I run out of energy. 

Not all introverts are shy or socially awkward. I'm more of a part-time hermit. If I use up words by speaking them, I need quiet time to make more. It's tough to be an introvert. It's tough to protect your heart and health by taking the time away to recharge. That leads me right to the first point in my list of Ten Ugly Introverted Writer Secrets.

  1. Sometimes you hurt people's feelings when you take care of yourself. This is the number one problem I've had and the reason why I get overwhelmed, stressed, and can't get my work done. Writing does take a long time, but so does recharging yourself so that you can write.
  2. Lying bothers me. I try not to do it, and I can usually tell when someone is lying to me. I'm pretty good at reading faces, voices, and between the lines. When I say no, or that I can't do something, that should be enough reason. No. I can't. It's simple and clear. Don't press. No one needs or wants to hear that I simply need empty space on my calendar to follow my muse—be that to spend a day hiking in the rain, re-reading The Mists of Avalon for the gazillionth time, staring into the void, or getting into my Jeep and running away for a day or so.

  3. When I'm on a writing binge, it's difficult for me to focus on anything else. I like to say it's tough to jump between universes—that means the one I'm creating as I write and the one you're calling me from. This is why I never answer my phone. If I interrupt my writing, it could take me days to get hold of that writing thread again.
  4. This doesn't have anything to do with being an introvert, but bear with me a moment. Being able to make a living as a writer is almost a lottery in this day and age. Branding is important for marketing purposes. That means that a good deal of the money that goes into marketing a book is spent on names that have been around a long time or celebrities that can guarantee sales, even if a ghost writer wrote the book or a team of them. We all buy stuff because the name is familiar.

    It takes a long time to write a novel when you're writing it yourself. It may or may not get published. Even if it gets published, not-famous writers don't rate much marketing money. On top of that books are going to get pirated. That means it will be stolen electronically. That means we make nothing. One writer friend calls her royalty checks her reality checks. I laughed so hard.

    Few writers can write full-time now. I can despite my non-celebrity status because, along with and mostly because of my husband, I co-founded and ran and after many years sold a nearly insignificant little photonics business. No, I'm not wealthy, but I can make this writing gig my job thanks to it. I'm one of the lucky ones. Still, after all the work that a writer puts into their book, unless you're a charity or a legitimate business contact, please don't ask for a free copy. This leads me to my next point—

  5. Years ago I gave up on asking for book reviews. I'm too introverted to ask, even though as a writer they're crucial to both sales and getting books published. It makes me happy that my books are read, and sometimes I get letters from readers which is better than a review. So I'm not asking for reviews, what I am asking is that when you see me please don't tell me—again—that you've been meaning to post a review and you'll do it soon. Because you haven't, and it's been years, and now you're just playing with me.

  6. Yes. I am judging your grammar online. I will never speak of it, but when you use to or too incorrectly it causes me physical pain. Everyone makes mistakes. Writers too. But you keep doing it. I'm keeping track. Don't worry though. As I said, I'll never be extroverted enough to mention it. Out loud.

  7. When we talk, I'm using you. I'm filing away your stories, sayings, and colloquialisms for possible story use. Don't worry, you'll never recognize your stuff, but while we're being honest here, I thought you should know. This leads me to—

  8. FFS don't tell me something and say NEVER REPEAT THIS. Don't EVER tell me your secrets. NEVER EVER. There are one of two possible outcomes in this scenario.

    This first is that I actively try to remember never to repeat it. It goes into a part of my brain that I monitor. At all times I'm fully aware of everything I've been told that has been filed under NEVER REPEAT THIS. It's a huge burden. It's like I'm using energy at all times NEVER to say (write) these things.

    My brain lights up like a Christmas tree when I write. It's zipping all over the place grabbing bits and pieces of data and world-building. All secrets are in danger during this process. That brings me to the second scenario, I inadvertently use this information. Neither of us wants that. So don't tell me. I'm serious. You'd likely never recognize yourself, but I probably would at some point. That's STRESS.

  9. When someone says, "I don't read" to me, my brain rewords it to, "I don't need no book learnin'. I watch the T.V." Mind you the guy I married only reads photonics magazines, financial stuff, and things related to fishing. Despite your reading habits or lack thereof I will probably still want to be your friend. I may be an introvert, but I like people, and I like people who are completely different than me. How else can I mine you for story fodder?

  10. I over commit. It's because I WANT to do everything. I want to
    be every other person's BFF. I want to hike, travel, get to know you, make you laugh, volunteer, learn to speak three languages, go back to school, learn to fly, become a master glassblower, read most everything, and write 100 books in my lifetime. It's a problem. Because time. And I'm an introvert who knows she needs quiet time. When I go radio silent and appear to be faking my own death, it's really not you. It's me.
Writers, Introverts, what did I miss? What introvert secrets are you far too introverted to tell? Extroverts, thanks for putting up with our crap.


  1. Thank you. It is brilliant, and it doesn't only help your friends, it helps friends of other introverts, and us crazy extroverts that seem so similar to you with overcommitting and trying to do millions of things at once, but yet, are different because of lacking the painful need of solitude. I don't mind solitude, at all, but I don't need it. Whereas I need people.

  2. I love this so much! Some valuable truths.