For the last year anyone who knows me well has listened to me lament about feeling as though my sincere desire to be a blogger/writer is constantly suppressed by my extroverted personality.
It is almost a laughable irony. An extroverted person who wants to write about developing community, but is horrible at the introverted disciplines of writing because she’s so active engaging with community.
For a long time I’ve had this picture in my mind of what the work of writing looks like:
Me alone. Sitting at my desk in our kitchen, wearing a comfy sweater, with a steaming mug of coffee, typing earnestly, in a house that is empty and quiet- except for the clicks of my keyboard.
I’ve spent a year trying to cram myself into that vision.
And the results have been inconsistent and largely unsuccessful.
During the holiday season, while getting some shopping done together, a good friend told me about her desire to write a book. Throughout the afternoon we helped each other pick out gifts – as we chatted about our inspirations, ideas, and hurdles in regards to writing.
At the end of our outing we scheduled a weekly appointment beginning in the New Year to meet at a coffee shop and write. Not to chit-chat, but to write. Really!
We have a pre-agreed upon arrangement to:
- set a timer at the beginning of our meeting for a few minutes to catch up,
- when the timer ends, share our writing goals for the day with each other,
- individually work on our writing projects at a shared table,
- show each other what we accomplished at the end of our writing time.
Suddenly it is so clear to me why I’ve had minimal follow-through on my weekly writing schedule.
Because it is so, so easy for me to flake on my laptop in my quiet house.
It doesn’t bother me at all to no show on my laptop when an invitation comes up to join a friend for a walk, a need arises from someone I care about, I’ve fallen behind on my chore/errand/household to-do list, or because I just don’t feel inspired to write.
But an appointment with a person, a friend – I won’t flake on someone I care about. I may cancel, but rarely and only for a truly good reason. I won’t no show on a friend because something else came up.
So I also scheduled an additional weekly writing appointment with another girlfriend on a different day. She’s trying to finish up her final semester of an online grad program and looking for creative ways to fight burnout.
Another writer-friend of mine recently celebrated the success of publishing an article in a magazine. We’ve agreed to share a piece of work with one another once a month to edit, critique, and give one another helpful feedback.
Now I’m an extrovert interacting with my community to develop as a writer rather than trying for force myself to write like an introverted person.
Suddenly I’m more optimistic than ever that I will finally make significant progress on my writing goals, rather than just talking about wanting to be a writer.
I have wasted so much time trying to make myself fit into my image of a writer. Trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Banging away, growing frustrated, and wondering what I’m doing wrong.
So I’m tossing away that introverted square peg and reaching for the one that looks more like me. I’m going to accomplish more of my writing goals in 2016 by writing like an extrovert. Engaging with my people and the strength I draw from community rather than attempting to achieve my goals by pulling away from them.
What other parts of my life are being held back not by outside forces, but rather because I’m trying to force myself be the ideal version rather than my created self?
What about you? What perceptions of the ideal type are holding you back from being the wonderful you?