Reading about, writing about, relating to, discrediting, and mocking MBTI personality types is all the rage these days. There’s even a Geico commercial out right now mocking them. –You know the commercial that has a woman in a diner telling the gecko that she is an introvert, which is rare (*cue the intended sarcasm*)?– Regardless, I have a theory about writers when it comes to personality types…
I have a theory that most writers are more introverted by nature. Or they have to learn how to become more introverted over time. Why? Because introverts, by their very natures, tend to enjoy being alone with their own thoughts more often than extroverted people. This means they’ll likely have more time and space to write. Extroverts will likely find it much harder to sit still in a calm and quiet environment, long enough to reflect, contemplate, and write, while introverts will find it much easier and more enjoyable.
Full disclosure: I’m an ambivert (both introverted and extroverted). But I do have more introverted tendencies. I often enjoy my own company and need quiet time to myself to reflect, read, and write often. And needless noise or babble annoys me, especially when I’m tired or hungry. But if I am alone too long, I get overanalytical and stir crazy and want to be around others. Yet if I am around others too long, I get drained and need to go be by myself again. And so the cycle goes. I also can’t stand large crowds, although that might be due to the fact that I’m short … but I have also noticed over the years that I don’t write often or very well when I’m in crowded spaces either.
Why writers who naturally gravitate toward writing are likely more naturally introverted
Introverts get pegged as timid and shy by extroverts all the time. And it’s annoying. Most of the time introverted people simply enjoy their own company and enjoy being alone. They don’t find the need to speak or make noise incessantly, especially if nothing important is being said or done. And being around a bunch of people all the time seems needlessly noisy and draining for them.
Because introverts enjoy being alone with their own thoughts and feelings more often, it’s no surprise then that they’d want to write some of those thoughts and feelings down occasionally. So this theory of mine, I realize, isn’t exactly revolutionary. I definitely get that. But it’s worth mentioning because if you’re more extroverted, you may find writing more stressful than an introvert would.
I do believe that extroverts can become writers too, of course, but they’ll likely struggle with writing at first. They will probably want to talk about what they’re writing before they’ve written anything, or instead of writing anything at all. Or they’ll want to work in crowded places where it’s hard to concentrate or think deeply or critically about anything, and where they’ll easily get distracted.
I’m no MBTI expert, and I don’t think MBTI tests are fool-proof assessments by any means, but I do believe they offer some valuable information that can help us become better at what we do, especially as writers. And if you do think of yourself as more naturally extroverted, you’ll likely need to work more diligently at setting up a quiet place in which to write so you can perfect your writing practice. You’ll essentially need to learn to be a bit more introverted.