For introverted writers: Can you find success by tapping into your inner extrovert? Take a free online test and find out!

 

Edward Munch

I’ve always considered myself an introvert, and I suspect the majority of writers would characterize themselves the same way. How else could we spend countless solitary hours at the computer, spinning tales from our imaginations? Yet sending our creations out into the marketplace in hopes of finding an audience requires a radical change of roles. Now and then, like it or not, we have to don the masks of extroverts.

Tonight (sic – see note below) I’m psyching myself up to be a raconteur. The Friends of the Albany Public Library have chosen me as Author of the Year for my suspense novel Eldercide, and tomorrow they’ll be honoring me at a luncheon, after which I’ll give a half-hour talk followed by a Q&A and hopefully some book sales. Speaking in public isn’t a problem for me; it’s a skill I’ve cultivated over the years. In my former lifetime as an art therapist, I taught and gave workshops, and for many years I’ve been a member of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theater troupe that performs before and interacts with a wide variety of audiences.

I enjoy fielding questions about my writing and tossing off zingy one-liners that make the audience laugh. But I positively loath what follows: sitting behind a table and a pile of my books, smiling, chatting, and hoping my dazzling (or sometimes pedestrian) performance will translate into sales. Even when I succeed in selling books, I generally come home from these events utterly drained, and spend the next few hours vegging out in my trusty old recliner, slugging down wine and watching TV with my two cats on my lap.

The aforementioned dysfunctional behavior is a dead giveaway. We introverts may put on a good show, even genuinely enjoy socializing and selling up to a point, but putting ourselves out in the world saps our energy. True extroverts, on the other hand, thrive on social interaction. It replenishes and energizes them, while what energizes me is creating in isolation, whether it’s writing, painting, or playing the piano.

Renoir

Our personalities are endlessly complex, of course, and most of us have the ability to shift from one role to another as the occasion demands. The spectrum between introvert and extrovert is only one of many. One way of exploring your temperament more deeply is to take a test based on the Myers Briggs Personality Test, which in turn is derived from Jungian theories. Several are available free on line. I took one several years ago, but I wasn’t sure I remembered the results correctly, so I took it again today, answering 60 yes/no questions at a rapid clip, trying not to overthink my responses. I came out exactly the same: I’m an INFP. Those initials stand for introvert, intuitive, feeling and perceiving.

According to educational psychologist David Keirsey’s widely used Temperament Sorter, I’m an “idealist healer.” My type “can seem shy, even distant around others. . . Because of their deep-seated reserve, however, they can work quite happily alone. . . They have a natural interest in scholarly activities and demonstrate, like the other Idealists, a remarkable facility with language. They have a gift for interpreting stories, as well as for creating them, and thus often write in lyric, poetic fashion.”

Wow, I like that! It’s even better than astrology, and it has some genuine scientific validity behind it. Maybe I’ll enlarge the description and paste it above my computer.

What type are you? Why not take the test and find out! Here’s the link: www.humanmetrics.com. To learn more about the four temperaments and the 16 personality types, go to http://keirsey.com. After you have your results, it would be great if you post them here as a comment, and let us know if you think the results are accurate.

Note: This post originally appeared on Jane Kennedy Sutton’s blog, Jane’s Ride, on November 16th as part of my blog book tour. She describes her blog as a “journey through the ups and downs, ins and outs and loop the loops of the writing, publishing and marketing world. Go check her out – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

By the way, my honorary luncheon went very well. I had my game on, sold more books than ever before, enjoyed myself thoroughly and came away energized. The fact that my husband handled the sales table helped enormously, of course.

I’ve received almost two dozen responses from writers who took the Jung Typology Test, and so far, every single one has scored as an introvert. Are there any extrovert exceptions out there? I’m still collecting responses, so why not take the test and post your results in a comment here if you haven’t already done so. The experience is easy and fun, and I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Once again, the link is www.humanmetrics.com. I’d love to hear from you! After I get a few more responses, I’ll write a post about the results.

 

 

12 thoughts on “For introverted writers: Can you find success by tapping into your inner extrovert? Take a free online test and find out!

    • You’re welcome, Jane. So far the only person who came out as an extrovert is an old friend from high school. She’s not a writer.

  1. Hi Julie,

    I have long known since graduate school that I am an ISFJ but I took the test you suggested just for fun and yes, I came out to be ISFJ again as I expected. I’ve read a considerable amount about Myers Briggs typology and been to lots of classes and workshops having to do with it. I find it affirming and fascinating. I definitely need time alone to regenerate. And yes there is a bit of writer in me though I haven’t published anything. I joined Facebook about two weeks ago and am having a wonderful time with it.

    I am so glad you and I connected Sunday. I’ve found your blog and want to read all of it. I hope it doesn’t take me too long to read it. I am spending way too much time at this computer these days.

    I like your style of writing of what I’ve read. Haven’t started either book yet and may not until after Christmas. I have about 30 other waiting-to-be read books also. Sometimes the latest acquired book moves to the front of the line though. I certainly will let you know when I’ve started reading either book.

    I have some concern about the size of the type in the books. It is so small for my myopic eyes to read. But I will give it a try. I am a slow reader so…. OK. Back to reading more of your blog.

    • Hi Betsy. Yes, it was great seeing you and Bill at the UU Congregation of the Catskills last Sunday. And I’m really glad you bought my books.

      I’m also glad you’re finding my blog interesting enough to want to read a lot of posts. Maybe you’d like to try creating a blog yourself! It’s fairly easy.

  2. I always come out as an INFP. I do teach, I have no problem with public speaking, but I usually dread parties unless I know almost everyone there — and yes, things like teaching and public speaking exhaust me and require quiet time afterward.

    “At work, Healers are adaptable, welcome new ideas and new information, are patient with complicated situations, but impatient with routine details.” Yep — that’s me!

    • I’m an INFP too – you’re the first person who’s responded who shares my type. I don’t dread parties, though, although my sociability varies widely depending on my mood.

      If teaching exhausts you, I admire your perseverance in making it your career! I used to teach art therapy and give a lot of workshops, but I’m glad that phase is behind me.

  3. I have to agree. This is a strange path for most writers. Isn’t it enough to write the stuff, but then to have to promote it too? – well, it’s altogether too much. Actually, one just has to embrace the concept. Here’s something I wrote about public speaking, “So You Think You Know Flop Sweat”. http://www.alexcarrick.com/?p=1254 . I’ve been an economist for nearly 40 years and made a lot of public appearances. They’ve rarely been easy. A long time ago, I resolved that I was going to master “playing the room” at cocktail receptions. I really worked at it and it paid off. So one can learn these things, but it may mean a significant shifting of mental gears. I like your comment about becoming a raconteur. That’s a good thing to aspire to.

    • Thanks for your comment, Alex. I’d love to hear more about your mastering “playing the room.” For me, that’s much harder than public speaking. I’ll definitely check out the link about flop sweat.

  4. INFJ. A somewhat accurate type I suppose.

    I like to read my horoscope. I wonder if that would alter the results? ;~)

    • Thanks for your comment. Do you write about gardening? I started a book called THE BLISSFUL GARDENER a few years back but abandoned it – as a gardener, I’m not nearly dedicated enough.

  5. I’m flummoxed! I’ve taken many Jung personality tests, and have always come out ENFJ. But with this test link, I pulled an INFJ for the first time ever. So, I guess your search for a “proven” extrovert continues. However, I’m know I’m almost evenly split between the two, with a slight leaning toward E. If I took the test on another day it would most likely come out ENFJ.

    I believe my leaning toward extroversion was stronger before I started working at home. I still enjoy and crave the company of others, however the new habit of working alone has changed some of my reactions to outside stimuli. Loud noises, big groups and swirling conversations are a little disconcerting after hours of silence. So, while for some people introversion might turn them into authors, for me it’s the other way around: becoming an author has made me a bit more introverted.

    Thanks, that was fun.

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