Introverts and the Writing Life

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Hi, my name is Renee, and I'm an introvert.

I stumbled upon a podcast recently that was looking for guests who consider themselves to be of the INFJ Meyers-Briggs personality type. It had been years since I’d done any sort of analysis on the explanations of all the different types, so I did a quick Google search on INFJ's, since I knew for sure I was an introvert. “Yep, sounds a lot like me,” I thought, and filled out the survey.

Even though I’m an introvert, I’m also a journalist who enjoys doing research. Since I’ve been tinkering around with formatting for my own podcast, I thought it might be interesting to participate in an interview for one about introverts. When I listed my occupation and website, the host got back to me pretty quickly to schedule an interview.

“I have so many people reach out to me about being writers, how to get started and how to make a living do it,” she said in her e-mail. “Plus, how to get over impostor syndrome as well. I'd love to talk to you about those things.”

I started thinking about the pros and cons of being an introverted writer. The pros are that I like solitude, and can be very productive when I find a topic or project I’m passionate about. I also enjoy solitary workouts, and those give me plenty of time to reflect on my work and other projects. The cons are that there are days when I simply don’t feel like talking to people. When I was working in an office at a nonprofit at my last job, there were days when going into work sapped my energy. Tensions among co-workers affected me. There was also a sales component of my job—where I had to make cold calls at local businesses. I would sit in my car trying to get up the nerve to walk in and hand the business owner my sales kit and business card, and there were times it took more time than I wanted.

I’m in a better place now, although I tend to be a little too introverted when I work from home. When I have to do an interview for a story, whether it’s on the phone or in person, I have a lot of anxiety ahead of time. Once I start talking (especially if I’m well-caffeinated), I have no problems making conversation and asking the appropriate questions. For me, imposter syndrome is real, even after being a writer for more than 20 years. I never know if my writing is “good enough,” if people will want to read it, and I still stumble over giving elevator pitches about my fiction. Networking events, such as panels and conferences, area also difficult, but I force myself to get out of my comfort zone and sign up for them occasionally. I also try to regularly schedule coffee and lunch dates with colleagues and friends so I don’t become too much of a hermit.

I feel like the hesitation and anxiety that comes along with being an introvert will likely be something I’ll live with for the most of my life. But because I love to write and tell stories, and love helping other people do the same, even on the days when it is harder to come out of that introverted shell.

(Learn more about the INFJ personality type in this short video.)

Do you consider yourself an introvert? How has it helped or hindered your life as a writer?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and freelance magazine editor who also blogs at


Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm an extroverted introvert, Renee, and basically that means if I go to a conference, I'm "on." I talk to newcomers, welcome faculty...I'm that writer is always has to speak because the other writers don't like to get up and talk. :-)

BUT after the conference, I have to go home and not speak to anyone for a week or so. I just want to hole up and write and get back to my routine. It's a pretty good personality type for an author/writer, as long as I don't have to be "on" on a constant basis!

Thanks for this post--made me think. When I was in my late 20s, I took the Meyers Briggs test but you know, life happens and people change. And I think my personality has changed for the better...but maybe I'm just a bit more mature and a lot less self-centered now. :-)

Renee Roberson said...

I can relate. I'm fine with public speaking and if I'm in a room full of my friends and like-minded peeps, I will talk your ear off. But after, like you said, I have to recover for a few days. I was actually discussing this with my son and he said, "YOU? You think you're an introvert?" I think that's because when he sees me interact with most people I'm with my friends or people who share common interests with me. After he thought about it, he realized that I do enjoy my solitude and will go days without leaving the house if I don't have to. I also don't walk into a room and feel like I need to make eye contact with every single person there and say hello (like my husband!)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee, I'm an introvert, and I believe it can be a superpower when it comes to getting stuff done! We can buckle down and do the work for stretches of time without becoming lonely. It's great for writing and graphic design. I don't know if I'm as classy and organized as the INFJs in the video though. ;) It was easier for me when I was drinking. My personality is night and day when I'm allowed my wine, and I can work a room. Now, sober me, is much more likely to feel hesitant to approach strangers. I hate public speaking, but I don't mind being on stage or in the spotlight, it's the speaking part that gets me because I think of too many things at once and can't formulate my thoughts. But I'm okay with it. Not everyone can be like my husband who is also an extrovert like yours and has to talk to every person in the room. We are together a lot, and if we were both extroverts I think we'd kill each other. Lol

I'm so excited about your interview! You are welcome to share it here. I'd love to hear it. :)

Renee Roberson said...

Ha! Yeah, Ang, I'm not sure I'm as classy or organized as the video says either. I mean, I do make lots of lists, but I often misplace them on my desk or around the house! I do appreciate a good pair of shoes or jeans but wouldn't really call that "classy." Replace a glass of wine in my hand with a cup of coffee, and that's me! It's funny because my daughter is an introvert, too, and I find myself constantly asking her if she has plans, if she's going out on the weekends, etc. and she's more content to play online games with her friends, practice her flute or hole up in her room writing. I shouldn't be surprised that she's a homebody like me!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

So we're all chatty introverts? A friend (Queen of the Extroverts) insists that I'm an "ambivert." As in ambidextrous. The thought behind that is that you are smack in the middle. Um, no. Way more introverted.

I'm on when I'm up and then I want all of you, and I do mean ALL OF YOU, to leave me alone. Nope. No talking. Psht! Shush!

One of my son's friends teases me. "You know cat person is supposed to mean you like cats not that you act like a cat." Shows what he knows.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--I don't know what I am. Currently, a hot mess. (Of course, not hot like Selma Hayak ;)

I know I used to have a job where I had to knock, door to door, for pre-arranged funerals. Needless to say, I didn't make a single sale, and I only lasted a week or two until I quit. I know when I have to really ramp up my in-person networking (I know. I should have been doing this a long time ago), it's going to be hard for me.

I had to laugh at Sue's "cat person" bit. And Angela has a point. It sometimes helps if couples complement each other. (Compliments don't hurt, either ;)

Renee Roberson said...

Maybe we all get chatty because we spend so much time alone that we're ready to talk when we get around our peeps, LOL! And I love cats but I'm allergic to them. My dogs and I have great one-sided conversations, though.

You know I'm a hot mess, too. All over the place. It's a funny observation about couples, too. Most I know in my friend circle have one extrovert and one more introverted. The universe insists on balance, I supposed.

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