Hello, fellow introvert.
So, you want to write and share it with the world, right? You’ve set up your blog or your account at Medium.com. Now what?
I mean, after all, sharing your writing with an unfamiliar audience is kinda like stepping up on that stage while trying not to trip over the hem of your dress and giving the all-important speech while your confidence slowly ebbs away. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all…
No worries. I’ve been there. Heck, I am there. Every time I write something and hover that little arrow over the publish button, my introversion rears it’s feathery, azure-eyed head, and I tremble into a wobbly ball of anxiety.
But there are some methods introverts can use to overcome the obstacles of sharing your writing. You just need to find a few things first.
So let’s go on a scavenger hunt. As introverts, we’ll look for, and find, three things that will help us write our very best.
Find Your Voice
As a beginning writer, you will find it difficult to find your voice at first. You may try out different voices as you struggle to find the words and style that reflect YOU. Maybe you’ll try imitate your favorite author or blogger. You might get so worked up on finding just the right words or phrasing, that you’ll be in editing mode forever.
That’s OK. At first. That’s why you practice. And practice some more. And even more. As you continue your practice, you and your voice will get to know and become more familiar with each other.
It’ll be like a first date, where you’re not sure you want to spend more time with the person, but hey, it was pretty good, so maybe we’ll try it out again. The next time, you become a little more comfortable with each other, more relaxed. Then the time after that, it will become yet a little easier; you continue to become more comfortable, and eventually the words and phrases flow easily.
Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul. -Meg Rosoff
I find it helpful to ignore most of the advice from the “experts.” Yes, grammar, vocabulary and syntax is important, but sometimes rules are made to be broken. For the most part, I find the best practice is to write how you speak. Let your personality shine through. Don’t try to sound like someone else, even your favorite author.
Are you a bubbly type? Or a more serious personality? Writing like you speak will make you more genuine in your readers’ eyes.
On a related note, do you publicly share your initial attempts at writing? I think it’s a good idea to do so, and even encourage it. The reason: you may never start otherwise. If your goal is to share your writing with others, if you think your writing isn’t good enough, not quite yet, you’ll procrastinate until not quite yet becomes never. As long as you’re publishing online, the Edit button will always be there for you.
You may think that everything’s been done and said before, that there are no new ideas.
The good news is no one’s heard your version yet.
As an introvert, where can you collect your ideas? Many suggestions stem from being out and about in the world, surrounded by other people, folks you pass on the street, overhear in the coffee shops, etc.
As an introvert myself, I usually actively try to avoid those places. Situations like those can cause mental drainage at the best, and anxiety at the worst. As an introvert, you probably spend much of your time in your own home, alone or surrounded by your family.
Additionally, you’re not likely to be able to focus on obtaining writing ideas and collecting notes if you keep checking your watch for the time you get to go home and recharge.
So, where can you find great writing ideas? There are plenty of sources, but I suggest ignoring the advice to write what you know.
Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy. -Nikki Giovanni
The most important source of writing ideas for introverts is the imagination. As a general rule, we’re a creative bunch. So, sit back, relax, and pull from the center of your mind secrets, desires and motivations with which you can use to create a character or construct a blog post.
Other sources of inspiration include your family and your close (small) circle of friends. Perhaps your neighborhood will provide ideas. Look out the window. What do you see? Your neighbors? Write a soap opera (changing the names to protect the innocent of course). Woods, deer and birds (in my case)? Let some poetry materialize. Is your view of a bustling busy skyline? Try to creatively describe the shapes, colors, angles and other things you see. These ideas may or may not turn into masterpieces, but they will be useful as some helpful practice.
Fear. This may be the single most debilitating obstacle for an introvert who wants to share his or her writing.
Fear keeps us stuck in a quagmire, right where we’re at, right now. It keep us from moving forward.
And guess what? Most folks stay in this very spot.
What if you fail? Ray Bradbury once said you fail only if you stop writing. And he’s right, you know. As long as you persevere and keep on practicing your craft, you’re not failing. Seems pretty easy right? All you need to do is KEEP WRITING.
But, but, but…what if I offend someone?
I’m going to tell you right now: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
I promise if you publicly share your writing, you WILL offend someone, somewhere, sometime.
But, who cares? I understand though, because I still struggle with this. Others will have differing opinions and views, but it doesn’t mean you (or they) are wrong. It’s OK, and even desirable, to sometimes be forced to look at things in a different way.
And about hateful comments from strangers? They don’t mean a thing. The support and love you receive from your longtime and loyal readers, friends and family: that’s the important stuff. Learn to ignore the haters. They’re not worth your time.
Then there’s that pesky fear of not being good enough.
Whoa, stop right there. This comes from comparing yourself to others. Quit it right now. Every single writer in the history of the world started at the beginning. Some folks are far along in their writing journey, while you may be just beginning. In a year, or five, you’ll be farther along in your journey than someone will be just starting out.
Think about it; when you’re writer extraordinaire in a few years or after a lifetime, you may be encouraging the next newbie.
Maybe you’re afraid of actually succeeding?
Why? Because it’s comfortable here. Change, even positive change, is scary.
It’s hard to let go of the grip on comfort, on familiarity. But if you want to move forward, to grow, to become inspired, you’re gonna have to let go. Don’t be afraid.
As in introvert, once you find your voice, ideas, and courage, the rest is a piece of cake. You’ll encounter plenty of stumbling blocks along the way, but you’ll have no problem navigating them. You’ll be well on your way to becoming the best writer you can be.
It’s a lifelong journey, but one that is well worth it.