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The Power of Introverts Squared

Posted by Priscilla on November 6, 2013

Introverts of the world, take heart.

As many may already know, Susan Cain shows up the extrovert power block in American society by proving how much we gain from the introvert and how much we lose by structuring our lives and workplaces as if extroverts were more important. If you’re an introvert, and you haven’t read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, do so.

Creative men and women are often introverts. Artists, musicians, writers, woodworkers are most apt to check the “I am drained by being with groups of people” and the “I like to work alone” boxes.  We check those boxes because we really do like our own company and because it really does take quiet and space to create.

But an old proverb says “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow . . .” So what’s an introvert to do? 

It is true that the artist can easily fall. There is too much failure built into life to avoid falling. And if he is alone with his creation, the failure and the fall become overwhelming. Soon, the artist may slide into darkness, where he stops creating. Soon, his excuses for non-work mount. A day will come when he staggers out of bed, peers at himself in the bathroom mirror and says, “I hate you,” to his reflection.

I know writers who are on that steep decline. Some are still near the top, thinking they can stay on top if only they work hard enough. Others have hit bottom already and have given up. Oh, they still write. Their journals are filling up. Words still roam around their heads. But they will never, ever complete another work.

What’s an introvert to do?

How about linking arms with a friend? The proverb goes on to say “A three-fold cord is not easily broken.” How do you and a friend make a three-fold cord? When you and your gifts are joined to your friend and his gifts, the two of you create (automatically) a third entity that is not only independent of each of you but is stronger in every way. Two working together have more ideas, more talent, and more ability than either of you alone.

Think it’s not true? Consider this: A friend and I met for breakfast this week. While talking, we began to brainstorm ideas for a novel. What if the main character lost her reputation? What if the townspeople are the plural narrator? What does the protagonist need to gain by the end? How about a place in the community? What if … what if … what if. We parted, went home, and both of us sat down to write. She took the ideas we had brainstormed and ran with them. By the time I saw her first five pages, several hours later, a remarkably entrancing story had begun to take shape. Since I am currently working on non-fiction, I didn’t use the ideas we had generated, but the process of batting ideas back and forth woke up my own creative juices. I had one of the most productive days I’ve had in months. 

Even introverts need each other. Writers need other writers. Artists need a jury of their peers. Musicians need to be heard. All creative men and women still need to learn from those who are further down the path. What does this mean for the writer?

If you can find the mentor and the friend near you, cultivate those relationships.

If you live in a wilderness, give thanks that the internet exists. Look for the mentor or friend online. If you need help with organization, check out Anne Allen’s blog.

If you need help with ideas, read the news (but stick to BBC or NPR), read biographies, read philosophy, read the science magazines.  If you need help with the nuts and bolts of publishing, check out Author! Author! Look at writers’ blogs and you might just find the partner you are looking for.

Introverts of the world, unite!



Posted by Erin Unger on
It is so true that we need each other. That's what's so great about our writing group. I've met so many wonderful people because of it. Thanks for the great post.
Posted by Priscilla on
I sometimes think writers need each other more than any other group of people. Writing is necessarily a solitary task. It needs to be. But that means there is built-in loneliness as well on some deep level.
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