Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 19, 2012

Throwdown Part 1: The Introverted Writer

Our new Writer in the Storm, Orly Konig-Lopez, is taking on Jenny Hansen in our latest throwdown: Introverted vs Extroverted Writer. Next Monday, Jenny will offer arguments, er... uh, gentle persuasion on the Extroverted Writer.

by Orly Konig-Lopez

Loyal followers (and you’re all loyal followers, right? Right!) know that Writers in the Storm has a fun tradition of  taking a topic and ripping it in half. And since we all have opinions -- some louder than others -- there’s always the opportunity for a fun Throwdown over which half is the right half.

Well, my “hello world, it’s me the troll” blog led to a Throwdown idea—and I’ll give everyone a wild hairy guess which half of the Introvert vs. Extrovert debate I grabbed and ran to the cave with.

First, I have a confession. Two weekends ago, I came out of the cave for a workshop—the fabulous Margie Lawson gave her Empowering Characters Emotions workshop at my local chapter meeting. And … shhhh … it was fun interacting with other writers.

But before anyone gets the crazy idea that I’m ready to convert, I’m happy to report that I’m safely back in my troll cave! AAhhhhh … it’s so much nicer in here.

Okay, okay, I’ll admit that sharing ideas with other writers and soaking up the creative mojo that flows in a room of wonderfully talented people can be stimulating. But as an introvert, I find it equally exhausting. I mean seriously, all those people talking. And talking. A troll can get whiplash trying to keep up.

I’m most comfortable when I have control of my environment. I prefer to observe and absorb. I crave the solitude of working with my (mostly) silent writing buddies. And yes, I sometimes need the safety of hiding behind the keyboard.

I’ve tried writing in coffee shops. Noisy. I’ve tried editing while tracking email and Twitter. Distracting. I’ve even tried brainstorming during writing workshops. Intimidating.

When I write (or edit), I prefer to retreat into my own little world.

Depending on what I’m working on or the weather or just the mood du jour, I’ll pick a spot in the house—some days it’s the sunroom, others my office; or maybe the kitchen table or the couch by the fireplace in cold weather; or if it’s nice outside the front porch.

I always have my favorite giant mug next to me (coffee, thank you). I’ll close out email and shut down my browser. The only “people” I want to chit chat with are my characters.

I can easily go an entire day with only a few words to the cats (no, it’s not time to eat yet; no you can not have my coffee; did you really think flopping on my keyboard was the best idea?) and only a handful of emails or tweets or text messages sent. Those are my rejuvenate days, my find-the-peace-within days, my I’m-so-going-to-kick-this-manuscript-in-the-butt days.

What about research, you’re asking? Sure, I could make phone calls, talk to an expert, visit a facility similar to one I’m writing about. But why? Those require interaction.

A few well-chosen search words and I have all the information I need (okay, maybe not ALL, but a lot). Hey people, Google was created for a reason (just remember to be thorough and not believe everything G tells you). Not to mention the fact that I lot of those experts you thought I should talk to wrote books on the subject. And we love books!

Once in a while you have to come out of the cave. Even the most introverted troll gets that. But at the first opportunity, it’s back in. Hello happy writing place!

What about you—do you prefer to snuggle inside the cave or play with everyone else?

Don’t forget to check back next Monday when Jenny talks about the life of the extrovert writer. *waving as I back into my cave*

0 comments on “Throwdown Part 1: The Introverted Writer”

  1. Funny Orly, from what I know of you, I'd think you're a perfect blend of each - which tells you that you're good at hiding that pesky troll from the outside world!

    Behave as if -- right?

    I'm on the other half of the fence, with Jenny. Though she's the marketing guru, walk up to Nora type, and I'm the slobbering Labrador type (Yeah, messy, but who doesn't like a klutzy Labrador?)

    I'm going to enjoy prodding that troll with my pitchfork! Just ask your cave-dweller buds, Fae and Sharla! BUAHAHAHAHA!

    1. What can I say, Laura, I fake it well. 😉
      Just wait until Nationals though and you'll see the real me - the greyhound (wish I was lean and mean; at least I've got the mean part) hiding behind the Lab, ready to bolt the opposite direction.

  2. I saw myself in some of those lines, Orly. I can go most of the day quite happily in my cozy (somewhat messy) cave and speaking only to my dogs, characters and a few friends on Facebook. But I am a bit gabby, too, and find if I take the aforementioned dogs for a late afternoon walk and run into a neighbor, I'm pretty sure I talk their ear off. Nice post!

  3. Oh I' definitely of the hermit brigade. If it wasn't for my children I would probably rarely leave my house! Everything I want and need is here! Loved your post, and exceedingly curious to hear what Jenny has to say! 🙂

    1. Oh, Edith ... I spit my coffee all over the screen with "hermit brigade" - now that's a T-shirt we need!
      And yeah, I hear you. My 7 yo forces me out of the house too. Although I'll drive him to school before dealing with the bus stop (shouldn't have said that - Laura and Jenny will never let me live that down!).

  4. I'm a people-loving introvert. If I could have more real-life interaction, I'd love it. I used to perform my music in coffee shops, and it's thrilling to share art and talk about it in person.

    And then I go lock myself in a closet until I can breathe again.

    My wife and I work together from home, and though we truly are "one flesh" there are times I have to arrange for everyone else to go away and leave me alone at home, or I'll stop functioning.

    I crave people, I really do. They just have to leave me alone when it's time to recharge.

    1. You both work from home? Wow, Joel, I'm impressed. I love when my husband and son are home with me but will fully confess to the sigh of relief on Monday mornings or at the end of a holiday.

      1. If she didn't understand me perfectly, we might struggle. We both give the other uninterrupted time, take turns giving our 8-year-old a snack or a drink every eleven minutes, fixing lunch, all that stuff.

        Noise reducing headphones are a blessing in our home 😉

  5. I can't say I'm either. I write at home, alone, in whatever place I can find a piece of paper. I also write in grocery stores check out lanes, in traffic jams, eating establishments of all kinds, in front of the washer/dryer and I write on any available piece of paper - even receipts although they are very flimsy and frustratingly small. But most of all I write in my head. My biggest challenge is finding the time to sit down at the computer and put all the bits and pieces into one cohesive and digestable page.

    1. Wow, Anne, I'm impressed. When I'm trying to figure out a particular scene I'll walk away from the computer sometimes and mull over while switching laundry or exercising. But I need to be in front of my laptop in my cave to actually write.

    1. I hear ya! Although snoring animals can be very distracting. I keep poking at my cat who insists on sleeping wedged between me and the laptop (plus he's drooling on my arm).

  6. I'm a definite cave-dweller. The slightest sound distracts me. My husband is just now starting to 'get it', though he continues to talk to himself. I don't understand how writers with small children do it. I am in awe of them.

    1. It happens at ridiculous hours, Diana. On the days when my little one is home I have to write before he gets up or after he goes to bed. Otherwise I find myself typing what he's saying or some nonsense from the TV. 🙂

    2. Diana, I had five daughters but I started writing in first grade. Actually I didn't care for the endings of the books so I wrote my own version. The teacher made me erase, but the next year they introduced us to ink, and from then on my mother had to buy the books, so she bought me notebooks to write in instead. To this day I generally hand write then I type it in, which means I do my first edit when I type it. Works great. As well as writing with noise/interferance/children, well, I guess I have a running dialogue in my head and all I need to do is write down what I hear. Sometimes the children's prattle actually introduce another idea.
      It works for me. Anne

      1. That's how I am with picture books, actually. I write them out (usually in green ink) and I can be anywhere. But novels for some reason insist on being cave dwellers. Go figure. 🙂

  7. I'm definitely a blend. I can talk to absolute strangers in the grocery store line or at conference and enjoy doing so but don't ask me to go to the front of the room to push and shove my way up to an editor or an agent. Something happens to my tongue and I go brain dead. Mind you, being published, I t know they are just people but that seems to make no difference. I'd much rather write letters or talk on the phone to them from the safty of my office at home--my version of the cave.

    1. I'm not a phone gal. Wears me out! I'm perfectly happy chatting up someone in the grocery line or at the gas station (especially if they want to talk about TTs - I love my TT). But when I'm being held captive, like on a plane or in a pedicure chair ... oy!

        1. Honda was a major sponsor of the Disneyland in France. They objected to the greeters at Frontierland using a competitor's name to greet everyone:

          'owdy, 'owdy, 'owdy

  8. Interesting post, Orly. Most of my life I've lived as an extrovert, but I'm an introvert at heart. I can hold a mike and talk to a group of 1000, and in a small group will take the lead, but not too fond of the cocktail party type of setting. I write in my study with the TV on in the other room. Usually with one pup in here, sometimes both. I figure this is good, forces me to get up to let them out or to check on what they're barking at. I always check when they bark. I want them to keep that up. Great protection, even though they're little.
    My biggest problem with making time to work on WIP (which I should be doing now, because I have some major time issues that have to be fixed), is I feel obligated to look at various blogs where I have a relationship with folks. And as you can see, I'm not very brief. LOL I hate it when folks put something out there and no one takes time to respond. 🙁 Besides, I'm sure I have the perfect response. 🙂
    Oh, and don't you just love Margie! That woman will wear you out.
    Can't wait to see what Jenny writes.

    1. Talking to a group of 1,000? Wow. I'd be hiding behind the fluffiest Ficus tree in the room.

      And yes, Margie is amazing. I wish we could bottle some of her energy. 🙂

    2. Believe it or not, I'd want to hurl too, Orly. There's something about a microphone and an audience that gives me big jumping frogs in the belly. I can do it, but I don't remember it. I'm fine once the podium is familiar, but the first time up? Yikes.

  9. Interesting subject and will admit I do a little of both. Public speaking on a topic I'm passionate about has never been an issue - but when I'm writing - I retreat to my office (for the most part). Music doesn't bother me. I like writing in coffee houses and that type of thing as I have fewer interruptions. The phone has become enemy #1. Hubby's studio is down the hall from my office and I often place a handset within his reach.

    1. Music depends for me - for one novel, I had to have music and the one after that, I'd totally lock up if there was music playing. But the phone is easy - ignore. 🙂

  10. Orly, the curse of being a "cusp" left-handed type is that I do swing both ways. I can hunker down in my cave for days, barely finding time to dress, much less brush my hair. But I do so love to interact with people as well.

    See? It's not my fault. My Lunar sign is the Monkey so I am spy, cunning and full of mischief. My Sun signs are Virgo/Libra and say it all ... the introverted big mouth. The kid who never shuts up until ... When I work I need quiet to be alone with my characters and let them talk to me and tell me their story. I love loud music before and after the work is done.

    Your solitary cave days are numbered ... your magnetic smile gives you away. Better to be like me and give in to the urges to tickle someone with your fancy and then pull the sky over your head, close the opening of the cave, and be at peace 🙂

    1. My days of swinging both ways are long gone (oouuu, that didn't sound quite right). Now that I'm out of the corporate world I'm very happy keeping company with my cats during the day. But I will confess to having a Monkey streak in me - always happy to get into some mischief. 🙂

  11. It's good to know that their are other proud fellow introverts out there. I either write at the table or on my sofa. And, like you, if I get stuck, I get up and do something like laundry, or grab a snack, and then get right back to it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. I enjoyed this post, from a fellow introvert *waves*. I understand completely, Orly. I had to laugh, watching 'The Talk' the other day. Sarah Gilbert, a self-confessed introvert, said, "I can barely stand being here with all of you." It made the audience laugh because they love her for who she is. I liked the fact that she could make the truth about herself funny, and somehow she came out even more likeable because of it. I feel the same way she expressed no matter what situation I'm in!! It's not that I don't love my family, love my kids, my friends, etc but I prefer to be alone, writing. End of story 🙂

    1. Waving back at ya, Yvette! Welcome to the “hermit brigade.”
      Sorry I missed that - probably would have been cheering and saluting her.

      And let's face it, we may like to be "alone" with our writing but we're never lonely with all those characters yabbering in our heads. 🙂

  13. Oh, so loving this post, Orly.
    I'm a fully fledged introvert, a hermit to the end. Heck, give me the t-shirt, then throw in a badge and maybe a pair of knickers, too! I don't mind, I'll wear them all with pride.

    *Serious face on now.*

    I've been a closet introvert all my life. Okay, I can talk to people when the need arises, but that's not very often. I'd much prefer to be tucked away in my cave, with my faithful *snoring* cat as company. Sometimes, I can go through the day and maybe only exchange a handful of words with my husband. But I'm lucky in that respect, because he knew about my unusual ways before we were married.

    No, I know what side of the fence I belong, or what side my bread is buttered, you get the point. Go Hermits!

  14. very much an introvert but with a pair of headphones, I can create a peaceful cave in my own head. Depending on the place, a crowd be the most solitary place in the world.

    1. That's a good point, Tanya. Sometimes crowds are just the place for a troll to retreat into and, bonus, people watch. Because that guy in the yellow shirt who is pretending to stretch but really scratching his armpits, yeah, he's totally going into the next book somehow. 🙂

  15. Oh man, I totally agree I like the quiet solitude when writing, but that doesn't always boast well being a mom, so I take my laptop into the backyard, front porch, living room, kid's bedroom, playground, etc. Wherever my kids are and the mood strikes for writing, I'm there with my laptop. "One more sentence baby and I swear I'll get you chocolate milk."

  16. I'm introverted--I think--but I still need human contact. I agree about the social media being distracting, though, and I spend way too much time being distracted! I loved the post!

    1. Thanks, Liz. 🙂
      I'm with you on needing human contact although a little goes a long way for me. I get overwhelmed very quickly with huge crowds and that's when I retreat deeper into the cave.

  17. I'm a real introvert, but I still think it necessary to do cons (more necessary on the Fantasy/SciFi circuit than Romance). But for introverts, they're exhausting. I usually plan to have a straight up 'Rest Day' after one, because I'm so drained that I can't function. ;o)

    1. Same! Even though I don't plan it that way, I find that after a workshop or conference I need a day in my cave. Oh what am I saying, any yank away from my quiet writing routine and I retreat to the cave. But especially after people-intensive events. 🙂

  18. Hey Orly -- and WitS'ers -- and Margie Grads!

    Anyone who knows me, knows I'm extroverted. I'm happy mingling at parties. I'm happy presenting to hundreds. But I'm also happy staying at the top of the mountain for days at a time, just seeing my lovey husband, and sometimes going on a walk with a neighbor or two.

    Orly -- I'm so happy I got to meet you! Hope to see you in person again sometime. Maybe -- Immersion class?

    Thanks for sharing my links!

    1. Margie -
      Orly's not coming without me. I'm a between-er, so I'll fit in perfectly. We're lining up our calendars.

  19. I'm definitely an introvert, but I do enjoy interaction. What's great about social media is that you can choose your interaction times, and then retreat when you need to.

    I have, however, learned to be social face-to-face when it behooves me and others around me. I enjoy writing conferences and workshops, but I admit to needing serious downtime when finished.

    1. I'm the same, Julie. I always feel inspired when I return from conferences and workshops but it usually takes a day or two for me to shake that troll-in-torchlight feeling. And yes, social media is a great way to interact on our terms. 🙂

  20. I'm an introvert as far as face to face talk time goes, but I love talking to people on the computer. Maybe because I'm IN my cave and know I can cut it off at any moment? lol. I don't know. I would rather do ANYTHING via computer - shop, pay bills, ask questions, find help (like for broken appliances, etc), sell things (craigslist) - you name it.
    I prefer email to phone calls, too. I just hate it when you get those long silences, ewwwww.
    I love to write, but how I'll ever market anything is beyond me

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