My name is Karma, and I’m an Extroverted Introvert.

steelcase
This would be my ideal office space. Right down to the yellow chairs. (image via www.steelcase.com)

We talk a lot about how solitary writing can be. And it is — unless you don’t want it to be, of course. I agree it helps if you’re a writer who likes her own company, because inevitably you will find yourself locked in a room with only your laptop, a cup of old and cold coffee, and hundreds of pages to write or revise…probably more than once.

 

Before all this introvert/extrovert labeling and the million and one quizzes to figure out which you are, I would have said I was an extrovert … who needed her alone time. Because while I need quiet time to brainstorm and think, I actually do it best if I’m not tucked away in solitary confinement. See the office in the picture above? That would be my ideal…except maybe put it in a Starbucks, so I could people watch while ruminating character arcs and plot lines. Now that I’ve settled more solidly into writing, I understand that I’m actually more of an extroverted introvert — which probably means something different to everyone, but for me it means I like to be alone without being alone.

Makes perfect sense, right? 🙂

When I write in coffee shops or out in the world, I am never without my headphones and my music playlist — which sometimes consists of only one song, played on repeat. Just enough white nose — between the song and the visual stimulation of the other coffee shop patrons — to quiet the part of my brain that needs quieting, so I can focus on the words.

But if I write at home — all alone and without some teen drama playing in the background (confession: The Vampire Diaries is my show of choice) — I.Simply.Can.Not.Write. Everything feels stilted, awkward, and out of synch. So usually I bake a batch of muffins (baking muffins relaxes me), then grab my laptop and headphones, and head to Starbucks.

In some ways I have no idea how people write if they never leave the house…I pick up so many details and juicy character tidbits by being out around others. I’m certain my writing would suffer if I wasn’t extroverted in my introversion, though I do have my limits. If you put me in a big room of people, my strategy would be to meet as many as I could have meaningful conversations with — I can play a social butterfly, but it’s not entirely in my nature to do so. Same with writing — I can write surrounded by chaos (think my 6-year-old daughter singing Frozen tunes full blast, the dog barking, the laundry machine beeping, the phone ringing) … but I’d rather not.

Where do you fall on the introvert / extrovert scale? How do you think it helps your writing, and how does it make it more challenging? I think it’s a fascinating discussion, and love to hear what others do!

 

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Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. I met someone recently who is bubbly and gregarious and everyone wanted to talk to her. Then later when it was just the two of us, she told me she was a intense introvert. I was shocked she would think of herself that way. But she said she was fine with just a few people, but more than that freaked her out and shut her down. It was hard for her to leave the house. I found that fascinating. I think she’s in extroverted introvert maybe?

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