Thursday, March 15, 2012

Does Being "Quiet" Make You a Better Writer?

 

J.K. Rowling, Barbara Walters, and George Orwell are just a few of the many famous introverts who have written books.

Growing up, I've sometimes found that those who don't know me well would describe me as being "quiet." People who know me a little better would say otherwise. I find that the label of being "quiet" can come with negative connotations. If you're "quiet," people might assume you are also  timid, anti-social, unconfident, slow, boring, or even untrustworthy. While I don't deny that I can be more introverted in certain environments, I don't feel the negative adjectives applied to "quiet" people apply to me, or even to most "quiet" people I know.

Notice how I'm writing "quiet" with quotation marks around the word? I'm doing this because I believe people who are "quiet" in one environment can be more vocally expressive in other environments. I don't know people who are "quiet" 100% of the time. Speaking for myself, I might be more mellow when  I'm making chit-chat with my child's pediatrician but when I am on the phone with my best friend, I blurt out whatever comes to me. 

I don't usually blurt out whatever comes to me when I'm in a roomful of strangers. So while I'm being "quiet" in a new environment, I might be taking mental notes as I listen, observe, and take in the scenery. In other words, being "quiet" allows me to do what good writers should do. 

So do "quiet" people make better writers because of their insights? Honestly, I can't say if being "quiet" necessarily makes me a better writer but when I am being "quiet" for writerly purposes, I find I can take in authentic streams of dialogue, pick up on the subtle nuances of others' behavior, and uncover below-the-surface dynamics among people's relationships. Not only do these skills help me in my writing,  they also sharpen my ability to understand and interpret what's going on in my environment. 

Do you think being "quiet" makes you a better writer?

20 comments:

Dawn Malone said...

*I do, and not because I'm trying to justify my own anti-social behavior. I've been told that I seem 'stuck-up' and 'aloof' until I feel comfortable enough to open up with new acquaintances. I love to watch and listen to people, and I know it's paid off in the authenticity of my characters.
On a side note, I find it funny that people can say, "You're so quiet" without hearing the negative connotation. I've alway wanted to say, "No, it's just that you're too loud!" but I've never quite worked up the nerve. *grins*

Cynthia said...

Dawn, I love watching and listening to people too.
And if you ever decide to call someone out for being too loud, do let me know! =D

S.P. Bowers said...

There are times when I'm very quiet and times when I'm not very quiet at all. Like Dawn above, I've also been told that I seemed stuck-up until they got to know me and realized I was just shy.

I don't know if it makes people a better writer but I do agree that it can make people more observant.

Cynthia said...

S.P., And there's absolutely nothing wrong with being shy! I for one can sometimes be more reserved when I don't know the other person well.

Daisy Carter said...

I run hot and cold on the quiet front. It depends on my mood and how comfortable I am in my environment. There are times I'm very outgoing. Others, not. And I've been told I'm aloof, like Dawn and S.P. But when I am quiet, I do find myself mentally making notes of people's traits. Great post, Cynthia!

Cynthia said...

Thanks, Daisy! I like your hot and cold analogy.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I can totally see how the ability to stay on the quiet side in social situations could help you study the human animal in its natural environment. For good or for ill, I am not the stay-quiet type. I study people by interacting with them - by nudging here or there and seeing what comes out. In the grand safari of life, I am the one poking the animals with a stick to see what they'll do.

Cynthia said...

Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your methods of observing others. When I'm feeling "quiet," I still interact with others, but perhaps by letting the other person do more of the talking.

Amber Clites said...

I've been accused of being loud by my family and friends for years (although I'm the oldest of five so it's a given), but put me in a new situation with no one I know, and instantly I'm quiet. In fact, at my son's 6th birthday party my dad had to come find me where I was hiding from the other Mom's. I even get shy and feel awkward online. So I guess for me it's a matter of environment and how well I know the people I'm around.

Cynthia said...

Amber, I too can be chatty when I feel like it. In fact, people who know me well know I'm not always "quiet."

Siv Maria said...

Stopping by via yadins blog to say hi. You have a nice blog :)Looking forward to stopping by again soon during the A-Z. In regards to being a better writer if you are quiet; I think a writer becomes better by being a good listener and an avid people watcher :)

Cynthia said...

Siv Maria, thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your posts during A-Z as well. =)

Honey said...

I think you make a good point about people watching. I find myself studying people and thinking of how I could capture their behavior in words. I'm quiet too when I meet strangers.

Honey said...

Forgot to tell you I left you an award on my blog:)

Cynthia said...

Thanks, Honey! I'll check out your blog to learn more about the award.

inluvwithwords said...

I've been called "quiet" all of my life, so I enjoyed this post, Cynthia. I am observant and I think that always helps my writing.

Cynthia said...

Ruth, I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Akoss said...

If blog posts were things that could be hugged I would've hugged this one.
I wish it was that easy though. You're a quiet person, and a writer, so it makes you a better writer. :)
However there is a lot to gain from a quiet observation of people and events around you.
Now when I'm around friends, I tend blurt out anything that comes to my mind as in I speak the way I think.
Thank goodness I'm a quiet person, huh? :)

Cynthia said...

Akoss, I'm so glad this post touched you!

Cynthia said...

I'm so pleased with the responses for this post! While I can be both an extrovert and an introvert,
I often feel that introverts don't get the credit they deserve. So I was inspired to write this post in defense of "quiet" people, especially "quiet" writers. Next month, for Blogging A to Z, I will devote another post to this topic.

Post a Comment