Monday, November 16, 2009

Introverted Writers

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” – Henry David Thoreau

I am happy to introduce my guest today, Julie Lomoe. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard College, Julie received an MFA from Columbia University and an MA in Art Therapy from New York University. She lived in SoHo for many years, exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and many Manhattan galleries. She showed her paintings and won a prize at the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art in 1969, an experience she blogged about in a three-part series this past August.

And now, here’s Julie to talk about introverted writers:

For introverted writers: Can you find success by tapping into your inner extrovert? Take a free online test and find out!

I’ve always considered myself an introvert, and I suspect the majority of writers would characterize themselves the same way. How else could we spend countless solitary hours at the computer, spinning tales from our imaginations? Yet sending our creations out into the marketplace in hopes of finding an audience requires a radical change of roles. Now and then, like it or not, we have to don the masks of extroverts.

Tonight I’m psyching myself up to be a raconteur. The Friends of the Albany Public Library have chosen me as Author of the Year for my suspense novel Eldercide, and tomorrow they’ll be honoring me at a luncheon, after which I’ll give a half-hour talk followed by a Q&A and hopefully some book sales. Speaking in public isn’t a problem for me; it’s a skill I’ve cultivated over the years. In my former lifetime as an art therapist, I taught and gave workshops, and for many years I’ve been a member of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theater troupe that performs before and interacts with a wide variety of audiences.

I enjoy fielding questions about my writing and tossing off zingy one-liners that make the audience laugh. But I positively loath what follows: sitting behind a table and a pile of my books, smiling, chatting, and hoping my dazzling (or sometimes pedestrian) performance will translate into sales. Even when I succeed in selling books, I generally come home from these events utterly drained, and spend the next few hours vegging out in my trusty old recliner, slugging down wine and watching TV with my two cats on my lap.

The aforementioned dysfunctional behavior is a dead giveaway. We introverts may put on a good show, even genuinely enjoy socializing and selling up to a point, but putting ourselves out in the world saps our energy. True extroverts, on the other hand, thrive on social interaction. It replenishes and energizes them, while what energizes me is creating in isolation, whether it’s writing, painting, or playing the piano.

Our personalities are endlessly complex, of course, and most of us have the ability to shift from one role to another as the occasion demands. The spectrum between introvert and extrovert is only one of many. One way of exploring your temperament more deeply is to take a test based on the Myers Briggs Personality Test, which in turn is derived from Jungian theories. Several are available free on line. I took one several years ago, but I wasn’t sure I remembered the results correctly, so I took it again today, answering 60 yes/no questions at a rapid clip, trying not to overthink my responses. I came out exactly the same: I’m an INFP. Those initials stand for introvert, intuitive, feeling and perceiving.

According to educational psychologist David Keirsey’s widely used Temperament Sorter, I’m an “idealist healer.” My type “can seem shy, even distant around others. . . Because of their deep-seated reserve, however, they can work quite happily alone. . . They have a natural interest in scholarly activities and demonstrate, like the other Idealists, a remarkable facility with language. They have a gift for interpreting stories, as well as for creating them, and thus often write in lyric, poetic fashion.”

Wow, I like that! It’s even better than astrology, and it has some genuine scientific validity behind it. Maybe I’ll enlarge the description and paste it above my computer. What type are you? Why not take the test and find out! Here’s the link: Humanmetrics
(Jung Typology Test). To learn more about the four temperaments and the 16 personality types, go to Keirsey. After you have your results, it would be great if you post them here as a comment, and let us know if you think the results are accurate.

I wonder if the Internet will require revisions in these types of standardized tests. For me, blogging and getting virtually acquainted with folks all over the globe without actually meeting face-to-face combines the best of both worlds – I can be an introvert and an extrovert at the same time! But that’s a subject for another day and another post.

Thanks, Julie, for that interesting post and allowing me to be part of your book tour.

Julie mentioned that she has been named 2009 Author of the Year by the Friends of the Albany Public Library, but she didn’t mention that the library’s selection committee for the Author of the Year award chose her especially for her novel Eldercide, because of its relevance to current issues surrounding health care reform and our nation’s treatment of the elderly and of end-of-life issues. The award has been given for decades, but this is the first time the committee has chosen a self-published rather than a traditionally published book. Congratulations and way to go, Julie!

To learn more about Julie and to read sample chapters from her books, visit her blog: Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso. To buy her books, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders (2006) and Eldercide (2008), and support small business, you can go directly to her publisher, Virtualbookworm. You can also order online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Be sure to visit her tomorrow at at Toni Andrews, the next stop on her tour.

I have always been fascinated by personality types so I took the test Julie mentioned. I am an ISFJ; introvert, sensing feeling, judging. According to Keirsey, I’m in the “protector” group. My primary interest is in the safety and security of those I care about and I have an extraordinary sense of loyalty and responsibility. I’d say my results were accurate.

Looking forward to hearing your personality types.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: introverts, Keirsey, humanmetrics, temperament sorter, Myers Briggs Personality Test , Bipolar Murders, Eldercide, Tags: personality types, Julie Lomoe, Thoreau,


Enid Wilson said...

Very interesting post, Julie! I'm definitely an introvert.

Bargain with the Devil

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

ISTJ for me. I think I've gotten that before. There will be lots of introverts posting here! :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yup, I'm busted - I'm still an introvert no matter how spunky and outgoing.
Creativity tends to come from the melancholy personality, which is introverted. Most writers have to force themselves out of their shell when dealing with the public.
Fortunately, I've enough outgoing Sanguine in me that I don't have to force, but I can turn it on and off. And like you, I come home drained, but it's usually the next day that I crash & burn and just want to hide.

Gayle Carline said...

Wow, I'm an INTJ - introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging. AKA "The Mastermind". I feel like rubbing my hands together and planning something... world domination, perhaps?


Karen Walker said...

I'm an ISFJ. No surprise there. This was a wonderful post, Julie. Very intersting and informative. Thanks, Jane, for hosting her.

julielomoe said...

Thanks to all of you for checking in. Five of us have posted our test results - me, Jane, Elizabeth, Gayle and Karen - and all of us score as introverts. Enid and Diane, you described yourselves as introverts, but it would be great if you post test results too - not that I'm going to come up with any kind of sophisticated statistical analysis, but it would be fun to know.

Note that the Jung typology test gives gradations. For example as an INFP, I scored as moderately expressed introvert and intuitive, distinctively expressed feeling, and slightly expressed perceiving.
That means I have components of the other four traits as well.

I was definitely in my extrovert valance Saturday at my Author of the Year luncheon. Although I had three pages of notes, I improvised my talk and sold more books than ever before at an in-person. I'll write more about that on my own blog. Hope to see you there later!

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm also a bit of an introvert. Sometimes large crowds make me nervosu, frustrated, and even angry, although I do love Disneyland this time of year, crowded and decorated to the hilt for the holidays.

Stephen Tremp

Maryann Miller said...

ISFP is what I am. And I so relate to you having to go home and collapse after a speaking engagement. I did a two-day art event in town two weekends ago and by Sunday night I was thoroughly exhausted.

It is fun to meet and greet and especially to interact with other writers and artists, but it is the most draining experience.

Helen Ginger said...

Quite interesting, Julie. I think there are different levels of being an extrovert. Giving a talk or doing a reading is quite different from talking one on one at a dinner party. They're different levels of intimacy and require different skills. I'm much better at leading workshops or giving a talk or a reading, I believe.

Straight From Hel

Carol Kilgore said...

Nice post, Julie, and congratulations on your award. I've taken this test in the past and always come up on the introvert side of things, but not always the same with the other parts.

The Old Silly said...

Wonderful article/post, Julie! The tour is going well - looking forward to your stop on my blog this Friday, also!

Marvin D Wilson

julielomoe said...

Stephen and Marvin - good to have some guys checking in here. But why not step up to the plate and take the test? Otherwise you're just reinforcing my theory that women are more comfortable with self-disclosure online.

Maryann, thanks for taking the test - you're the closest to me so far.

Helen, I agree there are different types of extroversion. Like you, I'm probably more comfortable talking in front of groups, but I'm not sure 1:1 sharing is really related to extroversion.

Carol, why not take the test again and see if you've changed?

I just posted on my own blog about this subject, and included links to Jane's blog site and the Humanmetrics test, so I may have some more results to share from there. I'll check back with you later.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'll have to try the test, although I know I'm an introvert, don't know much else. I'm better at public speaking than I used to be, as long as I talk about something I know about and have some notes handy.

I find it much easier to promote other people than myself. I need to get over that.

Morgan Mandel

Meredith Morgan said...

I've taken similar tests every few years for several decades. They always come out the same, although my Introversion is stronger than ever, as is my Intuition. Both are very high.


I'm thinking of joining forces with Gayle to achieve world domination. We could probably come up with several different scenarios for how we could accomplish that, complete with timelines and flowcharts.

Darcía Helle said...

Great post, Jane!
I've taken the Keirsey personality tests before. I just took the one you mentioned and I'm a INFJ. My personality is considered the "Counselor". Apparently we are in short supply - just over one-percent of the population. I guess that makes me an endangered species!

Julie, your book sounds like a great read. Just the title alone caught my eye. I added it to my "to-read" list on Goodreads. Best of luck in your career!

julielomoe said...

Thanks to Morgan, Meredith and Darcia for leaving your comments.

Morgan, re: being an introvert, I see you live in Chicago. Having grown up in Milwaukee, I firmly believe (with no evidence whatsoever) that midwesterners are more introverted. It may be cultural or ethnic - where I came from, tooting your own horn was frowned upon. In New York (at least the city), it's expected.

Meredith - I want to join you and Gayle in achieving world domination. Let's do it through blogging!

Darcia, I share your INF component. Perhaps my P for perceiving has to do with my being a visual artist most of my life.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Jane and Julie, I'm an INTJ, also, with 89% introvert.

Julie, I love that you were an art therapist. That's the direction I was headed. Unfortunately two things interfered: marriage/kids, and 89% introversion. I may still get there someday. I can sit for book signings and even set them up myself, although it does drain me. I cannot do public speaking. I have, but not well, and I quake at the thought. Love the internet!

I'll definitely check out your book.

julielomoe said...

Thanks for taking the test, LK. You're the third INTJ - there was some talk of you ladies achieving world domination.

I'm not sure art therapy is a viable career anymore. I don't miss being a therapist - probably because I'm an introvert too!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world