The Writing Process: Are you an Introvert or Extravert?

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Just got off the phone today with the group of bloggers I’ll be on a panel with at the upcoming BlogHer annual conference in New York. And what a group it is: funny, thoughtful women, all prolific writers. I’ll be the moderator of the session, called How to Use Your Blogging to Make You a Better Writer. Here’s the line-up:

  • Humor writer Mary McCarthy of Pajamas and Coffee, who posts about such things as testing a duck-shaped dildo
  • Suzanne Reissman of Cuss and Other Rants, a New York public policy wonk by day and writer of various rants on her blog
  • Jennifer McGuiggan of The Word Cellar, who ‘s working on her MFA and blogs about the writing process.

After the session on August 7, I’ll be signing books, so if you happen to be at the conference, please stop by and say hi.

Elisa Camahort, one of the co-founders of BlogHer, was on the call and brought up how the writing process can vary  based on whether you’re an introvert or extravert. When she has a writing project, she writes it first in her head, over and over, and by the time it comes out it’s fully formed and she doesn’t have to do many drafts or revisions.

Jennifer said, on the other hand, she must be an extrovert, where the piece evolves from writing or talking. She might have the nugget of an idea, but doesn’t necessarily know what it will be. She has to write it down to discover what she thinks and how she wants to approach it.

Do you fall into either of these camps? (I’m definitely in with Jennifer. I build on the part I’ve already worked out in my head.) Maybe you’ve never thought about it until now. If not, how does your writing process work?


  1. says

    So excited to hear that you’ll be at BlogHer – I look forward to meeting you!
    I’m a combination of the two…sometimes I can “write” an entire post in my head and it’s fabulous in one go. Other times, I get stuck and have to jot some key words/ideas on a piece of paper (always on paper – typing doesn’t work for me) and it evolves from there. The only way i can get over a writing block is with a pen and paper.

    • diannejacob says

      Terrific, Lauren, I’ll see you there!

      Yes, one of the bloggers mentioned that — if she gets stuck on the computer she moves to writing on paper. Whatever works, eh?

  2. says

    Sounds like I may be more of an extrovert (my Myers-Briggs would concur). I routinely start a blog post by writing two paragraphs…and then deleting the first one. I never set out to do this, but I often find my first paragraph is a wordy intro. I want to just get to the point!

    Will miss you in NYC – hopefully you’ll be attending BlogHer Food as well? I’ll be there!

    • diannejacob says

      That’s called throat – clearing. Wonderful that you recognize it.

      You bet I’ll be at BlogHer food. Looking forward to seeing you there.

  3. says

    I write the idea down, but it’s usually just a thought. I end up writing more on the front end, more on the back end, and the idea somehow forms the center. The final piece is often the idea I started with, but with more layers having formed around it. And I edit a LOT.

  4. says

    Um, I guess I’m the DUCK girl! LOL So you saw that one post, huh? And, for clarification purposes, I can tell you it was a duck vibrator with a tiny prate hat….

    Glad to ‘meet’ you today on the conference call! Am very much looking forward to meeting you in person when we speak together at BlogHer!

    And, to answer your question, I’m guessing the duck thing means I’m an extrovert. 😉

    • diannejacob says

      Oh right, it was a vibrator! Definitely, you are an extrovert. Our panel is going to be so fun.

  5. says

    When I write……I think about what I want to write for several days, then one day it just feels like I have to write it all down……..I type it into the computer, because my brain works faster than my fingers would on paper. I guess I am a little of both, because the first story in my head is not complete…….once I start writing the story it becomes embellished with words I did not have in my head before………

  6. says

    Like so many others, I am in between. When I used a typewriter (yes, I am that old, folks) I always had it all done before writing because I hated to type and would only do one draft. Now I see where the process takes me. But like you, Dianne, I usually have some idea where it will go before I do it..

    Have a blast at the conference; it sounds as though you’ll have a lively panel!

  7. Karen@Mignardise says

    You and Mary Mac on the same panel? So glad I’ll be there.
    Like most of the other commenters, I’m definitely a bit of both. I often have the whole post in my head before I get to the computer. Unfortunately, I often forget it by time I get there! Also, many times I think a post will be about one thing, then in the writing it morphs into something else entirely.

    See you in NY!

    • diannejacob says

      Hah, ain’t it the truth. I have all kinds of grand plans in my head. I need to use a tape recorder or a notepad, but I keep forgetting to do that too. See you there, Karen.

  8. says

    I assume they mean those terms only with respect to writing. I’m definitely an “extrovert” in writing – but I don’t discuss it, like you, I take an idea, jot it down, and build upon it. Usually creating various nuggets and bringing them all together. Definitely not an extrovert in real life though and nervous about an upcoming panel!

    I tend to think of it in the opposite manner – right-brained extroverts (visualizers), left-brained introverts (pen to paper, heads down).

    Good luck at Blogher!

    • diannejacob says

      It’s not that I think of a blog post and then talk about it. Usually it’s the other way around. I’m discussing something passionately with a friend or colleague and I think — oh, this might make a good blog post. It comes when I realize that people other than the two of us might want to throw it around.

      Maybe Elisa is both left and right brained, according to your example. She visualizes her topic, then puts pen to paper. Few of us are so lucky.

      Good luck with your panel. If it’s about food writing, let us know.

  9. says

    I must be an extrovert since I don’t really know what i am going to say until I start writing. I know what the subject is but not what I really want to say. I sometyimes have an outline in my head, which usually gets thrown out the window.

  10. says

    Definitely an extrovert. I write out a barely-fleshed out outline, then fill it in over time, rearrange, etc. For years, I had to write everything by hand, with pen, and then transfer to the screen via keyboard because I just couldn’t think the same way unless I had a pen in hand; the computer part was all revision. Nowadays I write an revise concurrently, I think. But since typing is so much faster for me than writing, it would be hard to go back now.

  11. says

    I so wish I could attend this conference and hear these speakers!

    I have to start with an idea, any idea. Once I have an idea of a subject I have to start typing and it evolves from there over a period of days: I add, take away, move things around, make lists of words, thoughts and little by little the story blooms. It’s a very active process.

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