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It’s Okay for a Writer to be an Introvert. Really.

July 21, 2013

–by Chris Coward

Chris Coward compressedIf you’re an introvert, like many writers are, you can feel good about it, thanks to research conducted not long ago by an associate professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. No longer do we need to fear agent interviews, networking events, or—shudder!—public relations. No longer do we need to feign gregariousness. The world of business is learning to appreciate us.

Until recently, conventional American wisdom said that for any group project—and publishing a book is definitely a group project—our culture values extroverts to motivate and energize, while it devalues introverts, who are expected to drag down any enterprise.

Well, the study by Corinne Bendersky entitled “The Downfall of Extraverts and the Rise of Neurotics: The Dynamic Process of Status Allocation in Task Groups,” turns conventional wisdom on its head. It concludes that on the whole, extroverts contribute less than expected, while “neurotics” (aka introverts, go figure) contribute more. Moreover, it says, the longer a project continues, the more status the introverts gain.

As an overachieving introvert myself, I’m as delighted with these findings as I was with those in Susan Cain’s groundbreaking book, Quiet: The Secret Power of Introverts.

All of which is not to bash extroverts, just to say there’s room in our industry for all kinds of personalities.

None of this is to say we introverts won’t be nervous during our agent interviews at the conference, but at least we know we can be ourselves. Good luck, guys!

Check out the UCLA story as reported by Forbes [link to http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/04/11/leadership-tip-hire-the-quiet-neurotic-not-the-impressive-extrovert/]. Then make your appointment with the agents and publishers of your choice at the 12th Annual Florida Writers Conference, “The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth.”

“The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth” will be held October 18-20, 2013, at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. See the FWA website, floridawriters.net, to learn more, to register, and to make your agent appointments. Also check out the FAQs, which offers interview tips. Questions? Contact ConferenceMarketing@FloridaWriters.net.

What do you do to calm your nerves in networking situations?

Chris Coward is proud to be Vice President of the Florida Writers Association, as well as chairperson for FWA’s marketing committee and leader of its local Oxford Writers critique group. She holds a masters’ degree in English with a concentration in professional writing and editing from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor emphasis in physics from the College of William and Mary. She has ghost-written for presidential appointees and CEOs, edited national and regional magazines, taught college English, and headed marketing departments for two Florida companies.

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5 Comments
  1. Rachel permalink
    July 21, 2013 7:34 am

    It is about bloody well time that introversion stopped being viewed as either a problem that needs to be fixed or a disease that needs to be cured.

  2. July 21, 2013 7:37 am

    Thanks for these reassuring words!

  3. July 21, 2013 5:58 pm

    Nice page, Stick to the great job. Appreciate
    it.

  4. Chris Hamilton permalink
    July 21, 2013 6:41 pm

    Every rule in writing has one important caveat–unless it works. So, yeah, you should try to break out of your shell and be able to network and talk about yourself without feeling like you’re about to barf. The other just isn’t suited for your success–unless it works.

    Every writer has a unique set of skills and abilities that no one else has. It’s that unique perspective–and a crap-ton of work–that make you uniquely poised for success. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

  5. July 22, 2013 8:53 am

    I like hearing good things about introverts, my being one breaking out of her shell. So many extroverts (not all) have stolen the spotlight and taken the world’s eye off the ball. It’s about the product, not the biggest loud mouth. lol

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