Are Writers Introverts or Extroverts?

I came across a Freshly Pressed blog post at Exploring Pixie that made me think about something.  What are writers and authors more inclined to be, introverts or extroverts?

In general, writing and creativity is generally an introverted trait, but certainly not exclusive to introverts.  Introverts tend to be quieter, although not always, and are less likely to be outspoken and wordy.  Writing gives introverts a way to express themselves in a more comfortable way, without being watched.

I am an introvert.  I always have been.  As a child, I was very shy.  As an adult, I’ve gone through a call centre job, requiring me to speak to many people, and later as a team leader at the same call centre.  That put me in the position of having to speak with authority, and even brief up to 50 people on a project.  I’d never spoken in front of that many people before that job.  And now, I’m an English teacher in Japan.  I spend my days talking to others.  Over the past 12 years, I have talked so much, that I’m sure people wonder if I really am introverted.  For example, when I played hockey, I was afraid of scoring a goal because I didn’t want any attention.

I’m the complete opposite now.  I write blogs, I am writing a book, I want people to see what I write.  I want that attention.  I want to interact with people.  Does this mean I’m an extrovert now?  Absolutely not!  I am still an introvert.  I prefer to listen than to speak.  I’m an observer, and I learn a lot about human behaviour from watching.  That has helped me a lot in my work as both a call centre team leader and an English teacher.  I can read people quite well and adjust how I speak with them.  I rarely ever have difficulty speaking with someone because I can quickly judge how they’ll respond.  I believe this can also help me with writing fiction.  I understand how people behave, so I can adapt this to my writing.

But I wonder, are writers more inclined to be introverted or extroverted?  I’d like some responses.  So please leave a comment.  If you’re a writer, are you introverted or extroverted?  Even if you aren’t a writer, I’d still like to know.  Thanks!

27 thoughts on “Are Writers Introverts or Extroverts?”

  1. Interesting question, but I assume there is no direct correlation between being a writer and being an introvert or an extrovert.
    During my (too?) many years at the university (not finishing my PhD in literature among other things), I studied many writers (their works and sometimes their lives) and I don’t think there is a direct relation.
    Writers are people who have something to say, or rather that feel like they have something to say.
    Extroverts like to express themselves, so writing is a great tool for that.
    Introverts don’t like to express themselves in public and writing is a great way to still do it without the direct spotlight.

    1. Thanks, David. You almost got a PhD in literature? Wow, you would’ve been a book doctor.
      I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of extroverts and introverts writing, like you said. I guess I could ask “Are introverts likely to write?”

      1. Yep. I almost was a book doctor. 😉 But I would probably not have ended up in Japan had I become one.

        I guess, yes, introverts are more likely to write than use another medium to express themselves (although strong introverts may use something other than language to do so like painting… I guess)

        However, as the discussion goes on, I realize that I’m not sure I clearly understand the difference between both.
        Probably it’s an Anglo concept (well, we have it in France too, but people rarely define themselves as one or the other in usual everyday conversation, while I see the terms pop up quite regularly in English), there ever are some popular tests for it (the one where you have the result in the form of 4 letters), I regularly hear English speakers say that they’re a (insert 4 letters here).
        Or is it just me, as I consider myself to be a little bit of both. I like both keeping to myself, being alone and talking with people, having an audience. I’m never bored alone (and can’t understand how some people can be) but I don’t mind public speaking (my largest audience was 300-400 hundreds, and while I was not 100% comfortable, I was not stressed either). As a matter of fact, I have done those 4 letter tests a few times, and I ended with a different result every time.

        1. I’ve seen several explanations about the difference between introverts and extroverts, but as I understand it, an introvert is concerned more with his or her own thoughts or feelings, while an extrovert is concerned about physical and social environment. Introverts get their energy from themselves, while extroverts get their energy from others.

  2. It is my belief that using writers as the denominator and introverted writers as the numerator one would yield pretty much the same percentage as any other segment of the general population. As for myself, I’m a card carrying extrovert as evidenced by the Myers-Briggs profile ENTJ. Your post is interesting. I like your thought provoking introverted way of writing. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the reply! I don’t recall my Myers-Briggs profile when I did it in junior high school, though it might have changed. I was INFJ or INFP or something. I wonder what I am now.

  3. I believe that artists are both introverts and extroverts. The act of creating needs you to be comfortable in solitude, to hear your own inner voice. At the same time, and I’ll speak for writers only, meeting people and being active in life are necessary means to keep the energy flowing to create. I think the definition of extrovert and introvert has been confused. Extroverts get their energy from people and introverts get their energy from solitude. Personally as a writer, I need both.

    1. I agree about where people get their energy. It’s what I’ve come to understand about extroverts and introverts. I am more likely to get my energy while alone, but I do get energy from people, too. It depends on the situation. I dislike parties, because it feels like I have no control over how people interact with me. It tires me out. In my job as an English teacher, I’m in control.

  4. I think the answer to this varies on the individual but in my experience many writers are introspective extroverts, that may well lay claim to being introverts. Yet their writing (particularly if written in first person) reveals the extrovert side of their personality.

    1. Interesting thought. In the same line of thought, posting on the internet in forums, blogs, and even newsgroups (I used to do that nearly 20 years ago) allows the introvert to express themselves in an extroverted way.

  5. Thanks for mentioning my post 😉
    As previous commenters, I think there’s probably a mix. However my friend on WordPress did some analysis recently, and it seems that statistically there’s quite a lot of introverts blogging here, which – since there are less introverts in the ‘real world’ – could point to some correlation.
    I don’t think though it’s because introverts are more inclined to writing, it’s simply that writing is a more natural form of expression to them.
    But me, even though I’m a strong Extrovert, I love writing and have loved it for all my life. The fact that I started and never finished a few novels though might point to my inability to focus internally!

    1. Very interesting. Thanks for the comment!

      I understand that a lot of the commenters here are probably saying there’s no correlation just based on gut instinct, but to know that there is a trend is interesting. I studied physics in university, so data is always important to me. When I see data, that goes a long way to show whether a hypothesis has merit or not.

      Introverts are probably more likely to gravitate towards writing as a means of expression, it’s more natural, as you said. That what my initial thought was, but I had no way to verify if it’s true. However, comments on here show a lot of extroverts are writing. But it’s still only a small sample. I wonder if there’s ever been a study on this. I did a quick google search and found nothing yet. But as many have said, there may not be a strong correlation. I’m curious about some well-known authors, though.

      1. Well, the data I’m talking about (my friend’s ‘research’) was qualitative and based on a small sample. As a sociologist (based on one of my degrees) I know how easily data can be manipulated so I wouldn’t use it as an absolute truth… but it would certainly be interesting to see some proper study!

  6. As a writer, i have two worlds; in the one inside my mind (for me, the real one), I am an introvert and in the one where my body resides, I am an extrovert.

  7. Here’s an interesting witticism from populist philosopher Alain de Botton. I don’t regard him as a particularly profound thinker, but he does coin a good bon mot:

    “Writing isn’t a career choice. It’s self-medication that over time precipitates the madness it was meant to ward off.”

    Anecdotal, but in a previous life as editor, publisher and bookseller, the best writers were introverts, possibly because they need that self-medication more than extroverts, whose fix is other people.

    1. Interesting idea. I’m not so sure if it’s that way for me. I find my medication is to get out and explore new places. But I guess, in a way, writing is about creating new places for me to explore.

  8. Very interesting indeed. I always thought that writing prevents me from going mad, and I don’t write for therapeutic purposes.

  9. I’m an introvert who has become slightly less introverted as I’ve got older! Maybe by the time I’m an old lady I won’t be an introvert any more but by then it might be too late! Interesting question, the introvert/extrovert writer issue. Enjoying your blog. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure if it’s possible to switch from introverted to extroverted. But it really has nothing to do with being outgoing or shy, just where you get your energy from.

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