“Introverts tend to feel that they most alive and that they’re most energized when they’re in environments that are less stimulating.” ~ Susan CainAre you an introvert who happens to be a writer (or a writer who happens to be an introvert)? If so, learning to understand and manage your sources of energy could be a game-changer.

Understanding Introversion

Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book Quiet, has helped introverts and extroverts alike to understand that being introverted isn’t about shyness; it’s about energy (if you haven’t already, be sure to watch her TED Talk “The Power of Introverts“):

“You know I think one of the best ways to understand it is to really get it, What actually is the difference between introverts and extroverts? It really has to do with how we respond to stimulation. Introverts tend to feel that they most alive and that they’re most energized when they’re in environments that are less stimulating, when there’s sort of less stuff coming at them. Where as extroverts really crave lots of stimulation coming at them to feel that they’re most alive. And if they don’t get it, they start to feel kind of bored and listless, and not generally happy.” ~ Susan Cain ( interview at TTBOOK)

Neither introversion nor extroversion is better, but the two ways of reacting to the world are definitely different from each other (also keep in mind that some people are ambiverts). An introverted writer may expend all of her energy for the day interacting with people, having little left to focus on her own writing.

Why Your Source of Energy Matters

This is one reason I try to write in the morning rather than saving it for later. If I write in the morning, I do so when my energy levels are high. If I wait until the evening, especially if I’ve spent the afternoon in social situations (including teaching), I am often too mentally wiped to think or write a single coherent thought, even if what I did that day wasn’t physically taxing and even if I loved being with the people I saw.

Aloneness or Loneliness, by Alan Levine

Aloneness or Loneliness, by Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Social media, in particular, can be tricky for introverts. On the one hand, social media (in theory) offers introverts more control over when, how long, and with whom they interact online. On the other hand, even virtual interaction is stimulating, often deceptively so, leaving us drained yet unable to pull away. See my guest post on this topic at Ollin Morales’s blog. (Note: Ollin has since moved his blog to a new home. You can follow his new posts at Courage2Create.)

Tomorrow we will look at the challenges unique to extroverts.

What is your experience (as an introvert or not) with managing your energy, especially with regard to social media?

See Also