It's no secret that there are a lot of posts out there for introverted creatives. They proclaim the merits of introversion and extend validation and positivity for introvert writers. This post is a little different, but hopefully just as encouraging. While it is important to feel comfortable in who you are, we wanted to provide a master list of tips for introverted creatives-- tips and ideas for how to write more effectively, grow in your craft, and be creatively fearless!
Quick side note: In case you don't know whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, here's the rundown. Extroverts are energized when they are with people and can get drained if they're alone for excessive amounts of time. Introverts are easily drained in social settings and need to get alone to recharge. Extroverts are not necessarily loud or outgoing, and they may not even like large groups. It is very possible they could get drained easily by certain people, there can be shy extroverts, most aren't shallow or obnoxious like the web likes to portray them, and it is totally plausible for an extrovert to not like putting themselves out there. On the other hand, not all introverts are anti-social, deep, serious, or timid. A lot of introverts enjoy hanging out with their friends and can be friendly and outgoing. Also, it doesn't matter which you are, everybody needs space from time to time, and everybody needs people at times. So don't buy into the stereotypes. It literally comes down to (for the sake of simplicity here): do you get energized more when with people (even if it's only certain ones), or do you recharge best alone?
That said, this is the post all about introverted writers! (If you're an extrovert: please give this a read anyway (you might still learn something), and then head on over to our post for you!).
1. Create your own writing space. It's important to have an area to write, and especially for introverts, it can be beneficial to have a place set aside that's private and quiet. Not only will this help you think better and work smoother, but you will also discover that having a specific place you write can help jumpstart your brain into writing mode whenever you go there. The problem is, a lot of people don't have room for an office or even a small desk. This is when it's time to think outside the box! You can create your own writing space in multiple different ways. Maybe that means clearing your nightstand to fit your laptop and hanging up a little bulletin board next to it. Or maybe it means setting up a little table and chair by a window out of the way. The point is, try to carve out a little space to be yours for writing-- a place you can go and be distraction-free.
2. Form writing routines and rituals. Creating little rituals connected to your writing times is a great way to help you instantly be tuned in to your project every time you complete your routines. This can be as simple as lighting candles, grabbing a coffee in a favorite mug, turning on a custom playlist for your book, or adding some ambience. It can even include things like scribbling a scene list on paper first, clearing off your desk, our spending five minutes to free write. (We talk a lot about freewriting here, but if you aren't sure exactly what that means, check out this in-depth post all about it!).
3. Find your community. You hear it everywhere: Connect, socialize, reach out to your fellow authors and potential customers. Well, forget all that. Not only is that going to stretch anybody too thin, but it can easily end up that you can spend too much time on connecting and producing content for the public that you don't focus as much as you need to on your actual books (or creative works). This is why it's important to find your community-- the unique people that will help you on your journey, that are your kind of people. You don't want to just ignore all thing social, because that is going to be detrimental in the long run. You just want to find your niche of people-- everyone needs that support and an audience-- and stick to them.
4. Focus on What's Important. Going along with the previous point: Focus on what's important to you as an indie author. We wrote about that more in this post under the point "It's good to have a plan and clear goals" but let's recap here: Ignore the idea that you need to jump into all these different things to be successful as an indie author. Trying to do everything will just lead to burnout and that's especially true for introverts. Sit down and work through your brand, your mission, your personal goals, and who your audience is. Then use that to hone in on what exactly it is you need to be doing, and how to do it well.
5. Learn how to get (and take) honest feedback. It's tough to write something and then have somebody find flaws in it, but as a writer, it's imperative. It's also important to get that feedback from someone whose opinion you trust. It might take some trial and error, but learn how to get honest feedback from those whose judgment you can rely on. As an introvert, this can be intimidating, so make sure you can find at least one or two people you can trust will give you honest feedback. This may be someone from your writing community (and another good reason to invest in finding your circle), or perhaps it's a literary-loving friend who can be truthful with you but also is someone you have confidence in. It's also necessary to be able to take that honest feedback and use it wisely. Make a practice of being able to emotionally distance yourself from your projects enough to see with a clear eye, understand where your critics are coming from, and how to implement (or ignore) their advice and thoughts accordingly. Realize that just because someone gives constructive criticism, it doesn't mean they hate you or your book. In fact, most of the time, it means they care enough to try to help you improve.
6. Avoid Marketing/Promotional Burnout. Burnout is only too real in so many areas of indie author life, but one way it can affect writers greatly is with marketing and promoting. While this is a needed component of being an indie author, it is also probably the hardest and most distasteful, especially if you get drained quickly with social interaction or promoting yourself. This is why it's a great idea to approach marketing and promotions with a strategy to keep things simple. It can be good to take a course or two (many are free!) on marketing and then map out a plan that fits your personal needs. Just because it's promotional doesn't mean it has to be pushy, obnoxious, or sales-y.
7. Figure out What Works For You. This can be a process that takes place over time, but it's good to keep track of what works for you and what doesn't. The creative life is never a one-shoe-fits-all scenario, and that needs to be something you remember as you go on your writing journey. Don't feel pressured to do something just because everyone else is, or it has claims of success, or some big name is doing it. As you try new things, use your experiences to map out what seems to do well for you, and what doesn't, and then stick to that.
8. Create a Habit. It's so easy to talk about writing and never actually do it. Especially if you're the kind of person who loves quiet time, hanging out alone on their phone, or just daydreaming, it can be easy to get distracted by every little daily thing. Taking the time to consciously choose to write is the first step to creating a habit that can help you actually achieve your goals and make progress in your writing. If you're a subscriber, you have access to our various writer's planners that can really help keep you organized, productive, and on track. Some other great alternatives are:
9. Continue Learning. In the world of easy access to information, there is no excuse for not continuing to learn. Don't let yourself get fooled into thinking you've got it-- keep learning! Read articles, follow blogs, and get books on writing. Take courses, and allow yourself to truly think about what you're doing with your writing.
10. Step out of your comfort zone. Bouncing off of the idea to continue learning: Be sure to consistently step outside of your comfort zone. This can mean you try a different writing style or practice some short stories in a genre you're not accustomed to, you could comment on that blog you've been following quietly for ages, you can try an online writing challenge, you could study a part of literature that's not your forte, you could take the plunge and post that story, share your work with a beta-reader, or send your book off to a novel contest. Staying stagnant never gets you anywhere, so don't let fear hold you back! Keep learning, and step out of your comfort zone. This doesn't have to even be big, dramatic steps-- just continue to stretch yourself in small ways as you grow.
11. Make sure you take time to recharge. As an introvert, it's easy to get drained just from day to day interactions. Trying to write when you're already tired out is never a good idea. While it's important to keep a habit, be sure that you are able to come to your story recharged. Maybe this means taking a few minutes to journal before starting, or sitting alone and allowing yourself a chance to process and unwind before hitting your novel. This can even include being drained from social media-- you may need to write before checking your email and social media, or turn off your notifications while you're writing.
12. Practice writing in the moment. You might be thinking: "But you just told me to make sure I'm recharged when writing!". That's true. But it's also good as a writer to practice writing in the moment. If you're feeling a great emotion, writing down on some scrap paper is a good way to get those raw, unfiltered thoughts on paper before they're lost forever. It's also a great idea to try writing when you're in public. Whether you're on a train, waiting at an appointment, or you're in your local coffee shop with headphones and your laptop: take time to stop and savor the moment, and be conscious of what's going on around you. Writing on the spur of the moment, when you're processing a lot of thoughts or feelings, or as the world moves around you can strengthen your observational skills as well as your storytelling skills.
So those are twelve practical tips for introverted writers! Are you an introverted writer? What is your biggest struggle, and what are your best tips? Comment below and let's share ideas!