Only about 25% of the population are introverts, so we’re clearly in the minority. I’m not sure how well that percentage translates into the blogosphere, but I’m sure it’s probably a bit higher because of the good fit that blogging offers for the introvert’s tendency to work in physical isolation.
What I want to do over the next few months is explore what it means to be an introverted blogger, how bloggers can use their introvert tendencies to enhance their blogging, and how to overcome the most common stumbling blocks that an introvert faces when writing material for public consumption and comment.
So what exactly is an introvert? Being an introvert involves many of the following characteristics:
- you prefer to be alone, rather than in groups
- you are extremely sensitive to criticism
- you have a lower than average self-esteem, and strong feelings of incompetence (may feel like a fraud)
- you feel cautious at sharing ideas (a big stumbling block for bloggers!)
- you prefer a concise/precise writing style
- you rarely feel confident in your knowledge, even of topics on which you are legitimately an expert
- you need coercion to offer opinions or make contributions
- you hate small talk, but desire serious & in depth discussions
- you pursue opportunities to work in isolation
- you respect the opinions of others and consider them carefully
- you use the internet as a comfort/buffer zone to explore how ideas are received
- you tend to think at length before speaking
- you notice yourself entering and exiting periods of low energy levels, which, when severe enough, can paralyze your productivity
Many of these characteristics have negative connotations, and this has a lot do with the fact that the majority of people, the people who set the norms of society, tend to be extroverted. One of the keys to dealing with introversion is to differentiate the positive attributes from the negative attributes. Once we’ve done this, we can then embrace and leverage the positive qualities while working to overcome the negative qualities.
Let’s begin by considering an obvious example of the negative characteristics of introverts in the context of blogging. Sensitivity to criticism can obviously have paralyzing effects and lead to avoidance behavior. It might cause you to stop blogging for several days or even weeks. It may also cause you to blog only on certain, non-controversial topics. Some introverts that I’ve known have even turned off comments altogether, or at least ignored them.
To overcome this negative characteristic, you might remind yourself of certain facts (much in the same way that you might remind your child that “it’s just a movie, no need to be scared!”). For example, you can tell yourself things like “rabid, vitriolic criticism is beneath me, and I need not be affected by it” or “good criticism gives me an opportunity to improve, and I need not take it offensively.”
In future articles, we’ll dive into more depth on how to overcome negative introverted qualities.
So what does an introvert have to contribute as a blogger? Introverts usually bring a long term vision to their blogging. They tend to plan things out meticulously and speak only when they have something important to say. Introverts tend to think twice before blogging an idea, and this can be a filter against junk. Introverts also tend to offer positive feedback to other bloggers, something our community certainly needs more of. None of these positive attributes are bad in themselves, though they can be overdone. Too much discrimination and too much planning can also be paralyzing and result in terrible productivity. Eventually, the planning and discriminating need to come to an end, and the implementation and execution need to occur. Nothing is perfect, no one is a perfect expert minus mistakes, so the introvert needs to find balance and be willing to make mistakes.
To conclude this article, I’d like to give you a sense of where future articles will be going. For the most part, I will lay heavy emphasis on overcoming introvert-specific roadblocks to blogging. We’ll look at ways to motivate, ways to increase your energy level, ways to overcome psychological defects like hyper-sensitivity and a lack of boldness. But we’ll also discuss, in more detail, how blogging is a great fit for the introvert, whether because blogging provides an ideal opportunity to work in (physical) isolation or because it provides an outlet for all those brilliant pent-up thoughts that you’ve been holding onto for years.
(oh, and by the way, no criticism on this post;-)