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Introversion/ Extroversion

Are you introverted or extroverted, so some combination of introversion/extroversion?

I am reading Susan Cain’s book,  Quiet.  She argues persuasively that our fanaticism about extroversion is a little crazy.  She shows that the extreme extroversion of Harvard Business School makes it hard for students to admit mistakes.  Seeing that several people who used taxpayer money to bail out of the banks and insisted on letting guilty parties avoid any jail time were often Harvard graduates, who to this day, argue they did nothing wrong.

No writer can be completely extroverted or they would never sit alone at a desk and create a story. My friend, Jennifer Greene, romance novelist, wrote in a personal letter, that when she is writing she could be happily on an island alone, but when she teaches, she does need other people, although it is tiring.

I am on the cusp of introvert/extrovert, although I think I am getting more introverted as I get older. I live and work alone, but lead a weekly mental health group and write the newsletter for the large apartment building where I live.  I like writing in coffeeshops but I am doing this at my desk and that makes it easier to write.

But I can write in coffeeshops.  I wrote the first draft of my novel in my favorite coffeeshop which doesn’t stay open until 4 am like it used to.  I don’t know an all-night cafe although there may be one. And I can write poetry in a coffeeshop because I used to write in high school in the middle of a class.  So I am used to be surrounded by other people when I write.  Although I find it relaxing to write at my desk in the quiet of my own room.

The book has helped me acknowledge and accept the introverted side of me.  Often when I go to a support group, I sit in the back and leave as soon as the meeting was over.  I thought it was odd behavior for an extrovert, but when I realized that was the introvert coming out, I could stay and talk to people after the meeting.

So for writing, a combination of solitude and people, and for a healthy social life, I can accept my introversion and gradually reach out knowing that I am extroverted enough to be able to talk off the top of my head and find it pretty easy to find common ground with others.

Susan Cain just published another volume for teens and kids.  If you have a writer in the family get these two books.  You will be glad and I think they will make you a better writer.

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