The Extroverted Writer

Since we looked at the introverted writer last week it is only appropriate that we address the extroverted writer.

Before we go further it is important to understand the intrinsic weakness of any label. People are much more complex then introvert or extrovert. At the same time such labels can help us understand each other’s inclinations and limitations.

Extroverted can mean many things. Outgoing. Socializing. Gregarious. Friendly. Hearty. Exuberant. Effervescent. Bubbly. Life-of-the-Party. We’ve all met or observed the extrovert. There are probably a few in your workplace, school, church, or family.

When it comes to the writer the general thought is the writing experience is isolated and insular, If so, then how does an extrovert thrive?

A few observations I’ve made working with authors who could be called extroverted. First a couple challenges they face.

Focus

Focus can be a problem for any writer. However, if they gather energy from being around other people or from interaction in social media, then distractions are a daily diet. One writer admitted that they can’t write while alone. They have to go to a place where there are people around, like a coffee shop.

The Idea Machine

Another drawback is becoming bored with the project at-hand or under contract. The danger is chasing the next new shiny idea. They can become an idea machine. This might work okay if the writer can finish all their ideas. But whether the market can absorb twelve new books from them in one year is another issue entirely.

Realize this is a challenge for any highly creative person, introvert or extrovert.

Competitive Spirit

A little competition can be a good thing. It can motivate you to work harder and strive to excel. But if it starts to become  envy or anger or even frustration it is not a good thing. I’ve seen the green envy monster devour people. It doesn’t just happen to extroverts, but if one becomes accustomed to being in the spotlight and suddenly the attention goes elsewhere it can be a problem.

Let’s look at some positive things.

A People Person

The fearless freedom to talk to people is a great thing for the extrovert. Will Rogers said, “A stranger is a friend I haven’t met yet.” Interviewing for research can be fun. One writer used to take a recorder wherever he went. He’d hear someone tell a story and knew it would be a great anecdote in an article or a scene in a book. He would record the interview, get permission for its use, and then file it for later.

Energy

It is a generalization, but it seems like the extrovert has boundless energy, like Tigger in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. That doesn’t mean they are “bouncy” all the time. In fact I’ve met “reserved extroverts.” Their energy is coiled but constant, like a nuclear plant.

Different But the Same

Are you a magnet for conversation or an observer of conversation? Are you outgoing or quiet? No matter how you label each other or yourself, in the end you are a writer. You are a writer who is uniquely you. Find what works for you and dig in. You are in the business of changing the world with your words.

Your Turn:

What other aspects of being extroverted can be added?

(By the way, a tip-of-the-hat to agent Amanda Luedeke’s book The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform.)

 

 

 

14 Responses to The Extroverted Writer

  1. Avatar
    Henry Styron February 6, 2017 at 6:24 am #

    Thanks for the balance, Steve. I might also mention that the extrovert might have an advantage over the introvert in being comfortable soliciting (and accepting) feedback for his work, thus potentially making his writing stronger. You couldn’t use that as an absolute, but it would seem to me that the extrovert would generally have a leg up on getting his writing out into the public eye.

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    Jon Guenther February 6, 2017 at 7:00 am #

    Not sure I can contribute anything intelligent to this discussion, since I am an introvert by nature (I’m a software engineer AND a writer, and very socially awkward in certain situations). Thankfully, my recent work in customer support has helped sharpen some of my extrovert skills, making me wonder if God’s not preparing me for something else. 🙂

    However, I’d think being an extrovert would lend itself well to radio and TV interviews, which are both very real possibilities for the writer. Extroverts would draw readers to them. Just as long as they don’t go off the rails the first time they have a signing and not a single reader shows up! Ouch.

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    Carol Ashby February 6, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    I’m an extreme extrovert, so I’ll make a couple of comments as an “expert” here.

    Focus isn’t a problem. Extroverts like me can shut out distractions easily. I work on my laptop beside my husband as he watches movies at night. He says I’m incredibly lifelike when at the keyboard. I’ve derived equations and written tech reports and journal articles while waiting to catch a plane. The noise and activity of an airport or coffee shop are just pleasant background noise and movement, rather like playing music. I can go into the creative bubble in the middle of that. My husband, who is an introvert, says sound and motion help him focus, too.

    I treasure negative feedback because it helps me improve, but I wouldn’t say I enjoy it. I do want it and very pointedly ask my betas to make sure they flag even the slightest thing that isn’t quite right. But I don’t think that’s because I’m an extrovert. It’s because I worked in the scitech world for many years.

    Every good engineer, even the most introverted, is looking for the design flaw and values critical feedback that improves the result. Good scientists are always on the lookout for the experimental result that will disprove their hypothesis. I’m not sure an extrovert working in business or entertainment would seek out or like critical comments any more than an introvert. It might be even more painful because an extrovert might be more aware of the responses of other people than the introvert.

    That brings up one extrovert characteristic you didn’t mention. We tend to read the emotional state of other people and can adapt how we treat them to make them feel better or worse. I always shoot for better. When I succeed, it makes my day.

    • Avatar
      rochellino February 6, 2017 at 9:52 am #

      Count me highly extroverted as well with strong subsets of optimism and empathy. I have no problem going anywhere, effectively interacting with all strata of society (and cultures) and generally bring fun, excitement and a sense that something positive is going to happen as a result of our meeting (many times it does). I give everyone the benefit of the doubt when I first meet them and only see someone in a negative light if they give a “bona fide” reason (like blasphemy, racism etc.). Initiating a conversation, introducing myself in a roomful of strangers, making a cold call, impromptu speaking to a group, no problem. Usually you can tell where personalities like me are in a room, its where the laughter keeps coming from.

      The only social function where this personality seems to not serve me well is funerals, the interaction with other people is oftimes misinterpreted. I usually don’t stay long during visiting hours.

      • Avatar
        Carol Ashby February 6, 2017 at 10:40 am #

        Optimism. Yes! That’s me. I always say if there’s that much manure, there’s gotta be a pony somewhere.

        I’m pretty sure I got asked to serve on some tech teams as much for my sense of humor and ability to encourage others as for my technical expertise.

  4. Avatar
    Joey Rudder February 6, 2017 at 8:32 am #

    A writer who is an extrovert is able to get out there and really make connections and empathize with people. That’s the place where the writer can draw emotions from because they’re actually experienced. Sort of like a “show don’t tell” sort of thing only a “feel don’t fake it.” Make sense?

    I think God has allowed me to have a little bit of both. I’m extroverted enough that I really love being around people, and I’m especially drawn to those who hurt. I’m a fixer and want to help. Yet I get overwhelmed when I can’t help or fix it (most times) and need time alone to pray and process everything. That’s when the story comes, right out of real pain, and when God steps in to show His rescue. I’m blessed to feel it when it happens and pray it reaches those who need it.

    And I just have to add, “You are in the business of changing the world with your words,” is very powerful, Steve. If that doesn’t put into perspective God’s calling on His writers, I don’t know what will! Thank you.

  5. Avatar
    Christy Wood February 6, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    This is so me! I love writing in coffee shops or Panera. The more people and chaos the better (as long as there aren’t any interesting conversations nearby because then I get distracted). You nailed it.

    Thanks for pointing out the strengths and weaknesses. I needed to hear this today.

  6. Avatar
    Maggie McKenzie February 6, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    Thank You. These two posts have been interesting and helpful.

    I am certainly an introvert, and it is often frustrating to me, but one part of it that I appreciate is that people tell me their stories. Often when someone is done telling me about their amazing life they will say, I wonder why I told you that? I’ve never told that story to anyone else before

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    Jeanne Takenaka February 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    I am an extrovert, most of the time. 🙂 I don’t function as such in situations where I am unsure of myself or what’s expected. I feel safer observing those situations until I have a feel for what’s expected or what’s happening, if that makes sense. 🙂

    As for writing, I can write in public places, but most of the time I like writing in the quiet of my own home.

    You really captured the essence of the extrovert, Steve.

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    Sheri Dean Parmelee February 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    I am totally with Will Rogers on this one. How about “an extrovert enters a party mouth first?” (I am an extrovert, if it matters!)

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    Jennifer Deibel February 7, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    Yes! I agree with all of these things! As an extrovert, I’ve come to learn that I need to be sure my “people tank” is full before I embark upon extended periods of writing. While trying to do serious, in-depth writing while surrounded by people can, at times, be too distracting for me, if I chill out at the coffee shop and sip a cup-o-Joe and THEN go home and write, I’m much more able to focus and get some quality work done. When my E-tank is running low, I find I’m fidgety, bored, and struggle to stay off of social media in order to work.

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    Barb Raveling February 8, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    Hi Steve! I’m an extrovert and one of the hardest things for me as a writer is being alone so much! Sometimes I go crazy with the boredom of it all! Although I like the flexibility of a writer’s schedule, I’d have much more fun if I were working at a regular job.

    Two things I do that help with the boredom are podcast interviews (with my own podcast) and coaching/mentoring relationships with people who have contacted me through writing. Plus I often write in coffee shops. 🙂 I may not be participating in the party when I’m at the coffee shop, but at least I feel like I’m at the party!

  11. Avatar
    Daniel Rodrigues-Martin November 11, 2018 at 11:10 pm #

    “Coiled but constant.” A helpful qualifying statement. This often describes me.

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    Paula March 23, 2019 at 6:07 am #

    This sums me up perfectly. I am in the early stages of planning a blog and the thought popped in my mind that I may not be able to isolate myself every day to write it. I like the idea of writting in a busy coffee shop or place where there is energy to draw from.

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