Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Extrovert Tips for Introverted Writers

by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

I stepped to the podium. “Raise your hand if you are an introvert?” Conferees began to glance over their shoulders, waiting for that first person to be brave enough to raise their hand. It took a minute, but hands began to reach into the air. My first thought was to laugh. Over half the room of writers considered themselves introverts.

Why was that funny to me? It was obvious so many were introverts. It took forever for them to raise their hands because they ARE introverts.

We’ve heard it said hundreds of times, “To be a writer you must be a speaker and to be a speaker, you must be a writer.” How is that possible when the bulk of the writers polled, are introverts? Standing in front of a group of folks to speak is . . . well.  . . mind blowing.

When I tell folks I’m an introvert, they find it hard to believe. But you’re so outgoing and talkative.It’s not easy to turn the extrovert button to ON when my introvert button is stuck on OFF. The truth is, it takes practice and hard work. Speaking does not come naturally to the introvert. Rather it is a learned skill.

Becoming an author is more than writing a manuscript. It’s an all-encompassing thing.  One could say, your platform hinges on it. Just as you learn to master the craft of writing, your work to grasp hold of speaking and teaching should grow along side. 

I remember my first writers conference, sitting toward the back of the auditorium watching Yvonne Lehman, Alton Gansky, and Eva Marie Everson speak. They awed the crowd with wisdom, humor, and encouragement, yet when I sat at a lunch table with some of these same folks, they joked about being somewhat of an introvert. They have taken time throughout their careers to learn to overcome. 

It’s important to understand that it’s not a lack of self-confidence if you are uncomfortable moving into the extrovert mindset. It says nothing about your ability as a writer or a storyteller, but it does say, it’s time to hone those skills. In order to approach agents, editors, and publishers, you have come out of the cocoon. Let me offer some easy tips on becoming an introverted extrovert.

Practice conversationStand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye, then carry on a conversation. Sure, it feels a little silly at first but then, so does putting on your extrovert hat. When you look yourself in the eye, it helps train you to actively seek out others. In our quiet, reclusive world, we often forget how to comfortably initiate conversation. I’m the world’s best at chiming in on conversations, but I’m equally as bad at being the initiator.

Move to the front row or center of a roomIntroverts are happy in the back of the line. Practice moving around the room. Instead of taking your normal back pew at church, move closer to the front (and I don’t mean by one row – I mean to the front.) In a group, mingle to the center of the room and stay away from the comfort of the walls. Put yourself into the crowd. You will soon learn how to manage your way and feel comfortable.

Find your happy placeWhen I speak, I pray that God will take me to my happy place. I ask to put on the hat of an extrovert and then move ahead. 

Body language and posture are importantStand up straight. Speak clearly and practice projecting your voice. When you command body language, you command the crowd. The more you show your confidence, the easier it is to take hold of the group and move ahead. I’ve heard it said more than once, if you don’t believe in you, why should I? 

Learn to laughIf something unexpected happens, learn to laugh. When you laugh at yourself, the crowd will laugh with you, so don’t worry about making a mistake. Just roll with it.

Discover a way to keep on trackSome folks make paper notes, others use their tablet, but everyone needs an agenda to keep you on track. This not only keeps you within your speaking timeframe, but it helps you maintain a good hold on what you are teaching or speaking about. The introvert finds it hard to ignore their written instructions, so make notes and use them. Notes are not shameful – they are gold.

Give yourself permissionWhen you’re done at the end of the day. Give yourself permission to lay down and unwind. As a conferee, I could stay up and hold court with the best of them – laughing, talking, and making plans. But when I began to teach at conferences, when the final bell rings, I needed to find a place to unwind. I’ve often teased that it is important to find a quiet corner and ball up into the fetal position. As funny as that seems, when you are an introvert who steps into the extrovert’s shoes, you’re completely exhausted mentally when the day is done. 

Practice taking your career to the next level by working on your extrovert skills. There will come a time when you are knocking out contracts one after the other, and you will be asked to teach and speak. Start now grooming those skills so when the day arrives, you can whip off that introvert hat and become the extrovert that lives within you.

Extrovert tips for Introverted Writers from @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Take Your Publishing Career to the Next Level by Practicing Extrovert Skills - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of ChristianDevotions.us and the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us and InspireaFire.com. Cindy is the managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com. @cindydevoted


  1. It is a "switch" isn't it Ms. Cindy? I love being my introverted self (turtled away in my little 'Shell of Solitude'), but to be effective as a leader, and as I am learning as a Christian writer, I have to be willing to put aside my natural tendencies and take the risk. Growing up sounding like Elmer Fudd (or Barry Krepke from The Big Bang Theory for young folks), it wasn't easy to open yourself up to embarrassment and ridicule. In the Christian world, for the most part, I found instead, support, love, and kindness. It's worth the risk!

  2. Love, love, love your tips and comments. I've used almost all of them at one time or another. I also set a goal for myself -- introduce myself to at least 5 people I do not know, ask someone I connected with to lunch or coffee, invite at least 10 people to a conference where I am speaking or coordinating, etc. -- anything that pushes me to reach out. And then at the end of the day/meeting, I do actually curl into a ball on my couch or climb into a bubble bath to quietly recharge.

  3. That's awesome. Thanks for the e travel tips. And YES!!! On a bubble bath at the end of th he day.