If you want to be a successful writer, does it help to be introverted?
The question begs asking. Writers spend hours and hours alone, accompanied only by their thoughts and keyboards. With the advent of the Internet and Google, many writers never venture from the seclusion of their desks, not even for research. Given this, it must help if you’re content being alone.
While I could find no statistics on the subject, there is evidence to both support and counter this hypothesis.
Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Falkner gave a wild-eyed romance to writing. They are reported to have enjoyed an evening of drink and merriment on occasion, but I’d guess these accomplished authors are more the exception than the rule. Most writers I’ve talked to are more at home with a good book and a cozy fire than leaning on a bar and tossing back shots of whiskey. I surely am.
Many aspiring writers balance day jobs, families, and other responsibilities with their quest to write the next great novel. It’s likely these writers don’t consider themselves introverted, but if asked, it’s a safe bet many of them would welcome more time alone with their writing aspirations.
Not all writing is done in seclusion. Reporters, columnists, and research writers engage the world up close and personal, but even the success of these writers lies with their ability to find inspiration from within, often formalizing their findings alone.
Time and talent are necessary to produce a successful novel, but not sufficient. A writer finishing a brilliant novel is unlike a medical researcher who discovers a cure for a disease. While both may be comfortable in the lonely pursuit of their goal, it’s the writer who is faced with selling what he/she created.
Soliciting agents and publishers, arranging book signings, giving presentations to book clubs and a range of other activities face writers seeking to gain recognition. Not even well-known writers can turn their novels over to a publisher to sell. Publishers expect authors to be available for public appearances, not exactly something an introvert welcomes. Marketing can take introverted writers outside their comfort zone. Not being willing, or able, to market their books is one reason most new authors never sell more than a couple hundred copies.
So, if you want to be a successful writer, does it help to be introverted?
Like most professions, writing requires a balance of interests, traits and capabilities. While writers need to feel comfortable in seclusion with their thoughts, social interaction is required to be successful. The Internet, social media and self-publishing have created a sea of writers seeking success. No writer can rise to the surface sitting alone in his/her den with a cup of coffee. Although, like me, I suppose many wish they could.