Ok, so I’m not actually trapped. I like it here. I’m just sorta baffled at how I actually happened. I’m sure there are more of us out there. But like me, they are probably talking. And Talking. Or Kayaking. Or running. Or hiking. Or swimming. Or doing something other than writing, until they’ve finally used up their verbal energy and are able to relax into their mostest favorite spot in this wonderfully noisy world—their own yappie head.
This guest post is by Andrea Jones. Jones is an educator, public speaker, leadership trainer, and freelance writer. She spent twelve years studying and teaching in the United Kingdom where she gained her MFA at the University of Wales Lampeter. She is the Grand Prize winner of 2012 OCCWF with her first novel The Peace Child which is currently working toward publication. You can find more of her writing at www.namb.net, theinfluencenetwork.com, and her blog, WriteNowCountsForever.com. When she’s not mud running, chasing her two active girls, teaching, or writing, Andrea enjoys meeting with and encouraging other women in their creativity and unique influence through writing. Follow her on Twitter @andreaFurrong.
It’s hard being us. On one hand we love to write. We love to read. But we also love interacting with people and people don’t like it so much when you’re writing and reading while you’re eating dinner with them. Or kayaking with them. Or heading down the slopes. No, we have to manage ourselves in such a way that we get our people time in AND our reading/writing time.
I just returned from a writers conference where the introverts were asked to raise their hands. Three fourths of the attendees raised their hands. The speaker didn’t even bother to ask us extroverts to raise our hands. I’m sure she was afraid she’d have to hand over the mic and she needed to get to her point… “Writers are often introverts and they sometimes hamstring their own success because they fear the social aspects of it.”
…But that wasn’t me. I was the monkey in the church hall. I had to tell my inner self to, Shut up, and let me write. I really needed a speaker to speak to us extroverts!
When I hear most writers talk, they revel in their love for solitude. Their revelry makes me growl. The word “solitude" itself makes me quietly whimper Barry Manilow songs and head toward a tub of ice-cream to sulk. Solitude does not become the extrovert writer. It is our Kryptonite.
Sometimes I feel a little like Davey on the 1970’s Davey and Goliath show. Remember the episode where he wishes his whole family and town would just “go away!”? And they do. He wanders around an empty world living La Vida Loca. In good ole Lutheran stop-animation claymation style, I often wish I had the whole world to myself. An Uninhibited, uninhabited, people-free world. Empty. Davey’s wish may have been inspired by unlimited accesses to candy and naughty behavior without the protective eyes of his parents, or the tattling whine of his little sister. I simply want to be less like my yappy, distracted Lab and more like Hemingway. Not a very tall order right?
Hemingway managed it. He managed to live a full life outside the four walls of his writing nook and yet still produce.
So I decided to jot down a few things I need for my Extrovert’s Tool Kit.
Ten things extroverts need to do in order to write well.
1. Talk to people:
Call your mom before you head into a writing session.
2. Go out on an adventure with people:
Plan kayaking in your local body of water on the day you want to do a long writing session. This way you know you are going to get some people/fun time
3. Write in a public space:
If you get stuck… you can talk. There is always some introvert that needs you desperately to pull her/him back to the world of the chatting.
4. Set a time where you write:
But have a people buffer. If not before, then after. If you tend to procrastinate beforehand with interacting with people, it may help to know you get to talk in 4 hours…3 hours… whatever your solitude limit is. Mine is usually 4 hours.
5. Pep Talk:
Tell yourself you only have to be alone for 300 words. That’s it. It won’t be too long.
6. Big it up:
Tell yourself how healthy it is for you to have some alone time. You will be a balanced extrovert! Really you will.
7. When you hit the Quiet Wall:
Leave you laptop open and your WIP open and go get a refresher. Talk to the barista. Assure yourself, Humans are still here. See? Yes, they still need you. Yes, look, you just made them laugh. Now go back to writing before someone accidentally knocks into your computer and deletes your work.
8. Write Dialogue:
Write the conversations of the people around you. So fun. And you feel like you are in on it.
Or if that’s too Creepy: Start your writing time writing a letter to a friend.
9. Reward yourself:
You’re writing instead of talking, great! After 300 words you get to make a call or arrange for a friend to meet you in an hour.
10. You are an Island:
Maybe Ibiza, but even Ibiza has quiet coves. So do you. Sit Down. Open Lap Top. Pick One Thing. And Write. Don’t look to the right or the left until you have produced something. Anything. Think of the Dad in, I Capture the Castle. He simply wrote, “The cat sat on the mat.” And look where it got him!
Any more extroverts out there? What are some of the tools in your writer’s tool kit?
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.