A Blog on the Craft of Writing
I’m please to welcome debut author Shelly Bell to Jessica Aspen Writes. Shelly is a fellow member of RWA and PRO and today she’s blogging on something that many authors sometimes see as a character flaw, but Shelly shows you how you can make it work for you. Don’t forget to leave a question or comment for Shelly and it counts as an entry in my contest (but you have to register it with the Rafflecopter widget HERE). Welcome Shelly!
EMBRACE YOUR INNER INTROVERT
by Shelly Bell
© Photographer: Arnaud Weisser | Agency: Dreamstime.com
I have hundreds of Twitter and Facebook friends. I’m an active member of my local RWA chapter and volunteer my services to the national organization. Everyone online may never guess that underneath my outgoing personality dwells a true introvert.
For years, I denied my nature. As a child and young adult, I spent most of my spare time on stage, acting in plays or singing the solo in our choir. I participated in a religious youth group, dated and enjoyed hanging with friends. Still, I was never more content than when I was at home reading a book.
I loved to act, because it gave me the opportunity to pretend I was someone else. I loved to sing, because it gave me an outlet to express myself using someone else’s words. Most of my theater and choir friends thrived on the attention they received. Not me. I disliked meeting the audience after the performance and usually hid backstage until the lobby cleared. Being onstage didn’t scare me, but face to face interaction caused my heart to race and my palms to sweat.
In college, my friends dragged me to parties and events. I hated every minute of it. Too young to understand, I chalked it up to shyness and body consciousness. It never occurred to me that trying to feel comfortable around strangers or even my friends sometimes, was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
While many, included myself, use the adjectives shy and introverted interchangeably, it turns out, we’re wrong. Introverts may be shy, but it’s not a requirement. According to Psychology Today, introverts are energized by solitary pursuits and drained by social encounters. I don’t know about you, but the definition fits me perfectly. To me, acting and singing was a solitary pursuit regardless that I was part of an ensemble. It was an internal rather than external process.
For years, I’ve searched for others like me. When I walked into my first RWA meeting, I found them. They welcomed me with their smiles and instantly offered their assistance.
These are the characteristics of an introvert:
- Energized by time alone
- Keeps to self
- Internally aware
- Fewer friends
- Prefer smaller groups
- Not socially inclined
- Enjoys solitude
- Thinks before speaking
According to Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, an executive coach, introverts make excellent leaders because introverts think first, talk later; focus on depth; enjoy writing; and embrace solitude (Forbes, Why Introverts Make the Best Leaders, 11-30-09). They are the same characteristics we need as writers. Authors spend hours of each day alone, plotting and writing.
Just because you’re introverted doesn’t mean you’re not outgoing. In fact, many introverts find it easy to socialize and have an empathic nature. Still, they’d prefer not to. At least now that we have social media, authors no longer have to work in complete solitude. We can reach out with a simple email or tweet. These venues are perfect for authors. It provides a means not only to market our books, but to create relationships with individuals we might not have had confidence to approach in person.
My advice is to embrace your inner introvert. It just might make you a better writer.
Shelly Bell started reading at three years old. In elementary school, the librarian gave her books to test out for the school library. As a teenager, she spent her allowance each week on romance novels, enjoying both young adult category romance, young adult paranormal and single title books, and adult romance.
Practicing law since 1997, she specializes in corporate, environmental and employment law as In-House Legal Counsel for a scrap metal company in Detroit. On the side, she dabbles in horseracing and crematory law.
Shelly and her husband have two children and reside in the metro-Detroit area. A member of Romance Writers of America, she writes both women’s fiction and paranormal romance.
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