Help! I’m an Introverted Writer in an Extraverts’ World!

by Joan Kremer on October 5, 2008 · 9 comments

in Adventures,Benefits of SL,Opportunities

Methinks it used to be far easier to be an introverted writer.  And since 95 percent of writers are introverted (according to Ursula LeGuin), cialis sale me-double-thinks it used to be a whole lot easier to be a writer, link period!

writingthen

Writers today have to be almost as expert at the extraverted skills of marketing and sales as they are at the craft of writing.

writingnow

So what’s an introverted writer to do (other than surrender to despair)?

There’s advice all over the Internet, of course.  One of my favorites is a blog called Shrinking Violet Promotions, although just about every writing-related site (including this fascinating article from Atlantic.com) says something on the topic.  But I know from my work as an instructional designer that just reading about a skill does not produce mastery; you must also practice it in realistic situations.

What does that have to do with Second Life?  Simple: Second Life lets us introverts practice being extraverted without making complete fools of ourselves!

Seriously, Second Life is being used by all kinds of individuals and organizations to learn and practice life-skills. Here are just a few (really neat) examples:

Likewise, Second Life can help us introverted writers practice the extravert skills required of 21st Century writers.  Especially those of us who live long distances from First Life opportunities for practice.

“Hardly anybody ever writes anything nice about introverts. Extroverts rule. This is rather odd when you realise that about nineteen writers out of twenty are introverts. We are being taught to be ashamed of not being ‘outgoing’. But a writer’s job is ingoing.” ~ Ursula LeGuin

“How in the world can that be?” I can hear some of you thinking.  Well, here are two areas where I’ve made major improvements — and all from the safety of my home office:

1. Reading/speaking to an audience

One of the most common ways writers market themselves is by giving public readings.  Not a skill we are born with — especially introverts!  When I read my first story to an audience in SL, it was a disaster.

(Part of the problem was that I didn’t know how to use a PC mic to speak in SL, so my delivery most closely resembled Roseanne Roseannadanna shouting a speech into the depths of Mammoth Cave.  Hence, I highly recommend first learning the basic techniques of SL voice chat; these videos by Torley Linden are fabulous for that!)

But the beauty of it is that no one could see the abject fear and humiliation on my face or the fetal position I assumed when I realized the extent of the disaster!  Instead, I just apologized in text chat, said I was having microphone problems.  And the next time I was called up to read before this group, no one left, or even hissed or booed!

Alas Zerbino wins 1st place in Cicrcle Slam

Since then, each time I’ve read a story or poem in SL, I’ve worked to improve some aspect of public reading, one skill at a time — first the technical intricacies, then voice modulation, then performance reading, and so on — all from the safety of hiding behind an avatar who always looks composed!

I’ve even managed to win a “Circle Slam” reading contest in SL (though I have to admit there was not a lot of competition).

By the time I face my next First Life audience, both my confidence level and reading skill will be about a thousand percent higher than before SL.

2.  Networking with other writers

This one relates to an astonishing discovery I made.

First, understand that as an introvert, I prefer to listen than to talk — which means I have only the teensiest bit of experience carrying on a spontaneous, witty conversation with someone I just met.  Now, assume that person is an agent or an author I’m in awe of, well, needless to say the term “shrinking violet” becomes the understatement of the year! So when I meet writers or agents or publishers in First Life, my tongue usually ties up in knots, and I transform myself into as close an approximation as possible of the wallpaper.

But, in Second Life, most communication is done via text chat, which is — well, writing, of course! My best skill!  Many writers talk about how they learn what they think by writing it down.  I’m the same way.  So in the virtual world, instead of responding to someone with bumbling “ah’s” and “ummm’s” and keeping my voice as low as possible so I can swallow a word if it sounds too stupid when it comes out, I can write my conversation!  Even review it and edit it before anyone sees it! In the world of text chat, no one hears my pauses, my stutters, my faux pas.  They only “hear” the actual words I want them to hear; my self-edited statements.

As a result, I’ve developed more confidence in my ability to come up with relevant, even witty responses to others — even to authors way “up there.”  A skill that’s spread into First Life!

Now when I meet someone, I have more trust that I’ll make the right response, which means I have less of the anxiety that prevents me from even thinking of something halfway intelligent to say and more belief in the worth of my contribution.  I no longer pray for the floor to swallow me; instead I open up to the other person, get to know him or her, share a little of myself — in essence forge another link in that network that’s so critical to a successful writing career.

And best of all, I sometimes make a new friend!

These are only two of the infinite ways to improve the skills needed to be a writer in the 21st Century, but you get the idea!  I’ll bet a lot of writers have discovered this awesome aspect of Second Life — if you’re one of them, how have you seen your skills grow?  We’d all love to hear about it, so please share in a comment!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jodi Griffith October 6, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Joan,

An excellent description of what an introvert experiences in an extroverted world! I hadn’t realized the extent of emotions and contortions that are, and have been experienced.

I believe introverts and extroverts could be “opposite oars in the water”; as there are times I experience these same emotions and contortions as a result of being an extrovert.

While introverts may be pained with fear and dread of attention when in the spotlight; extroverts may be pained when they realize they have “hogged” the spotlight and overstepped the boundaries of social niceties, by “vomiting” speech and antics into a crowd!

Is there hope for extroverts through Second Life? Just a thought.

2 Joan Kremer (6 comments.) October 6, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Hi Jodi,

Excellent ideas you share! Yes, I do think extraverts and introverts are “opposite oars in the same water.” Great analogy! And thanks for sharing what extraverts go through — I always figured they didn’t have those silly emotional hangups that introverts do.

Hope for extraverts in SL? Heck, I think you guys rule there, too!! 🙂 Seriously, I’d say SL can help all of us practice whatever skills we need to work on. What do you think?

Thanks for you comment!
Joan

Joan Kremers last blog post..Help! I’m an Introverted Writer in an Extraverts’ World!

3 WinthorpeFoghorn Zinnemann (1 comments.) October 18, 2008 at 2:05 am

Mmm… a cool blog. I found you through some group on Facebook… Let me read some more and then get back to you.

I am a professional RL writer – I almost never wrote any fiction though… that is until I started my blog on my SL experiences. That’s in Italian, so you are lucky I can’t ask you to bother checking it out. However, on SL I did find out about a great unpublished novel and…

…and, well, I was able to find a publisher and I got a RL world translating it in Italian… which is what I am doing right now.

We can discuss about extraversion – I find that although SL does help shy people to come out about some parts of their personality, it still doesn’t really help when one feels she is not a good writer. Although one does wear a mask on SL, one’s ability (or inability) to write can’t really be faked.

But, as I said, let me read more of this blog. It sounds extremely appealing to me. Thanks for doing it!

Win

4 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) November 10, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Hi Win!

Thanks so much for your comment. I really wish I could read Italian so I could read your blog!

Congratulations on getting the publisher. That’s fantastic! Be sure to let me know when it’s published.

You’re absolutely right that writing ability can’t be faked, no matter how obtuse the SL mask. But it can help to increase confidence in one’s good writing (I believe).

Again, thanks for writing and best wishes on your writing!

Joan

5 Tidd Kidd January 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I stopped worrying about being an introvert when I learned that true introverts, though always “within themselves”, are also totally self-sufficient, and never ever bored with their own company.

Those poor extraverts however … they cannot feel validated unless they are pouring forth to a (hopefully) approving audience, and without the audience they are like flapping fish out of water – so I’ve felt sorry for them ever since.

Thank you Carl Jung – you changed my life !

6 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) January 21, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Tidd — second time today you’ve made me laugh!! And I, too, am grateful to Jung for helping me understand how great it is to be an introvert!

Thanks for the comment! You have such a great way with words — no wonder you’re a writer!

Alas/Joan

7 Scotti Cohn (1 comments.) October 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Here’s the thing: Even though I’m an introvert, I still suffer when I don’t receive validation — especially when I am expected to “get out there and promote my book” and I do exactly that, but almost nobody attends the event or pays attention to what I do. That’s because I’m an introvert, so I have neglected to make a gazillion friends through all the groups I *don’t* belong to (and I have no family members living nearby) — so I have no automatic audience to come and cheer me on. My few, precious friends cannot be expected to come to every appearance I make (appearances I would not even be making if it were not expected of me!) I try very hard to do my best and put on a good program, but it definitely “smarts” when the response is weak to nonexistent.

8 Stephen (1 comments.) December 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I love the pictorial views of the writer’s career. It used to be so much easier back in the day….today’s writing job looks way complicated!
Stephen´s last blog ..It’s Over My ComLuv Profile

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