Are You an Innie or an Outie?
People always consider me an extrovert. I’m a lawyer and a teacher and am not afraid of public speaking. I have a tendency to “take charge,” whether that’s a good personality trait or not. Yet, when I took the famed Myers-Briggs test, the result was that I have an INFP personality, which would make me an introvert. According to one scholarly resource (the Internet), INFP’s are known to “dislike conflict, though be good at understanding other people’s feelings and be a successful mediator. INFPs tend to be perfectionists and are known to struggle working as a team, and thus recommended careers for INFPs are positions, which allow for autonomy, creativity, and where they can feel they are helping others or a greater cause. These careers include Psychologists, Members of the Clergy, Writers, Actors, Activists, Artists, Editors, Filmmakers, Designers, Journalists, Social Scientists, and Teachers.” (https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-insights-on-the-INFP-personality-type) I spent more than thirty years as a mediator and adjunct law professor. I have been a writer my entire life. Now I can see why I felt like a misfit as a lawyer.I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors, Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert or some combination of the two? Have you taken test(s) to see where you fall on the charts? Do you think this affects your writing and/or your marketing skills as a writer? Their answers are as fascinating as they are. Paula: I can remember the first time I took the MB test. I was a young reporter who dreamed of being a novelist. I came up as ENFP/J, and ENFP was the journalist. INFP was the novelist. I was dismayed that the test said that I wasn’t “introverted” enough to be a novelist LOL Alexia: Introvert, introvert, introvert. INTJ all the way, baby. I literally score off the charts on some scales of introversion (the kind where you have to plot your subscales on a graph). Living in my head and loving it. I actually see my stories in my head like movies so being an introvert definitely influences my writing. Cate: I think I am an extrovert who enjoys spending 8 hours a day chatting with the people in her own head and then writing down their stories on paper. I think being around people gives me energy but a good writing session gives me more energy. (An extroverted introvert, I guess?)I was in a rock band for years and sang on seedy stages in New York, which was a pretty extroverted thing to do. I enjoy performing. I talk a lot in public, but some of that is from nerves. As for marketing, I think my personality makes book events interesting. Though I have real trouble with being self aggrandizing. And since the product is my story, it can be difficult for me to talk about the praise it has gotten which would help me sell the book. I have to remind myself to mention such things. Alison: I generally come down right smack in the middle in whatever version of these tests I take. All but my very closest friends describe me as a clear extrovert. There is some truth in that: I’m interested in people, and I enjoy good conversation. Having said that, unlike a true extrovert, I need time alone. I prefer to go to museums and galleries on my own. I would never consider shopping for clothing with anyone. Ever. As to the second part of your question, I suspect having a “split personality” helps me better understand my characters. I think when I’m at my most quiet and introverted, I’m also at my most observant. When I’m feeling outgoing, I’m able to engage in conversation and draw others out, but then my perspective is more that of a participant than an observer. Having yet to market my book, I can’t say how my personality will affect the process. I absolutely loved doing a reading of an early draft of the first chapter of Blood Atonement at a Mystery Writers of America event downtown. I guess that falls squarely in the “extrovert column.” This question, Michele, will make me more mindful of the process as it unfolds. I’ll let you know next year! Susan: I am definitely an introvert in that I feel most comfortable alone, and yet life has a way of propelling introverts outward. So I’ve learned to give speeches and chat with strangers and teach classes and so forth. I think I come across as a friendly person (which I am), but there’s always a moment when I need to just go into a corner and catch my breath. Part of why I like social media so much is that it allows me to connect with a lot of people, but at a little bit of distance. Maybe social media is the ultimate introvert coping mechanism. Robin: I’ve taken the Myers Briggs test multiple times because I’ve had employers who viewed the test & sharing results as a good team building exercise. The results changed the second time I took it, based on my mood. From then on, I consciously adjusted my answers to suit my career goals and the way I wanted to be perceived. Guess that’s what happens when you take the same test and have the same resulting conversation 5 or 6 times 🙂 I used to think of myself as introverted until I said that out loud and my friends laughed. Hard. Evidently, people see me as outgoing although I don’t always feel that way. When I’m writing, I may be alone in my office or I might be on a crowded commuter train. Regardless, my attention is turned inward and I love it. But the book is just the beginning. The rest requires people – agents, editors, participating in conferences and industry peer groups to help me learn and grow, helping others learn and grow, jumping on opportunities to promote myself and create a following. There are a whole of lot human interactions involved with building a career. I’m enjoying every bit of it which probably means I’m more of an extrovert than I realized. Tracee: I used to think that being an introvert or extrovert was about being shy/not shy, led me to say I was an introvert. Actually I’m a shy extrovert, which can be tricky because I like seeing people but am uncomfortable meeting new ones (I’ve had to learn to ignore this and put on a brave face). I like to spend time alone but need to avoid too much isolation by going out into the world. I wouldn’t do well in an isolation chamber for months on end. A few days… maybe even a few weeks, though, would be fine! I can actually have an extrovert re-charge all by myself as long as I’m not isolated. For example, going alone to a museum or movie, but being in the company of others restores me. Perhaps the true mark of an extrovert is that I don’t mind shifting situations or surprises and have always been good at ‘going with the flow’. I have taken the tests (for work) but admit to not paying much attention to the results other than to think they weren’t surprising (and like Robin I realized that I could shift the results if I wanted. This likely happens even subconsciously at some point if you are taking a test for work). End result? I think that introvert/extrovert this does impact both writing and marketing of books. I like going out and talking about my books at stores. As importantly I’m fine with ‘whatever’ happens at the event, good, since these things are out of our control. At the same time, while writing I lean a bit toward pantzer – willing to step outside the bounds of total control – but I love writing because it allows me to work alone and with near total control. I think most of us shift slightly between categories and over time perhaps shift greatly.