The Introverted Songwriter

TurtleYes, I am a singer/songwriter, and I also happen to be an introvert. Those of you who have done some reading on personality types will know that this is not some sort of disease or mental illness. It is not anti-social behavior that needs to be fixed, rather it is a temperament trait that should be embraced, the same way that extroversion is.

The main difference between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts get their energy from social stimulation, whereas introverts are drained by too much social stimulation and need to retreat in order to recharge. For some fascinating reading on this topic, check out Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

For the most part, we come out of the womb wired to be introverted or extroverted. This is not to pigeon hole people – people are complex and there are many other factors that contribute to personality. Even within the extroverted and introverted types there are endless possibilities.

I grew up in a very extroverted environment. Since my parents directed a camp I was forced to adopt some extroverted behavior. My husband, on the other hand, grew up on a farm and he fits more tidily in the introvert camp.

So how does all this relate to the topic at hand? How does this relate to me as a songwriter and creative type?

  • I do my best work alone – at least in the initial writing/composing stage.
  • I need chunks of time for quiet, solitude, and contemplation (especially in nature).
  • I am a creator first and foremost, a reluctant performer second. I envy those extroverted types who seem to thrive in the spotlight
  • I struggle (I mean really struggle) with the promotional side of music. Building an on-line profile feels shallow and cheap.
  • I’m probably not going to be coming out with the latest trendy worship album, or be in the top 40 hottest hits. I will try and stay true to what is authentically me, whether it is popular or not.
  • Besides finding inspiration in all that is aesthetic, my lyrics will probably tend to look inward. That’s what introverts do. We are fascinated by the inner world; the world of thoughts and ideas.
  • I am a rather private person. Yes, vulnerability for the sake of art is non-negotiable. Would the psalms be as poignant or as relatable without David’s honesty? On the other hand, I will probably not be posting what I eat, where I go on vacation, and what kind of toothpaste I use.
  • I tend to over-think things, which can lead more easily to perfectionism and self-doubt. At ten o’clock a.m. I am pleased with a song I am working on, but by three o’clock p.m. I am picking it apart.

So where does this leave me as an introverted songwriter? I guess it leaves me in the same place as an extroverted one. I am a unique person with my own set of strengths and weaknesses. I think the key is to work within my God-given strengths rather than try to be someone I am not. Yes, I will at times have to do things that don’t come naturally to my personality. That’s life! But at the same time, my goal is to strike a balance, so that I can operate mostly within my sweet spot and not my exhausted, stressed out, resentful spot.

An extroverted and artistic friend of mine recently encouraged me to put myself “out there” more. This blog is a small step towards that end, while remaining true to how I am internally wired.

If you also happen to be hard-wired as an introvert, be aware that you are in the minority, and you will probably at times feel pressure to transform yourself into a social butterfly. Butterflies are beautiful, but if you were born a turtle, then be the best turtle you can be. So by all means, retreat into your shell and do what you do best: read, write, create, contemplate, compose, paint, invent, analyze. But remember to stick your head out every once in a while and share yourself with others. Share who you are and what you’ve been up to in your shell. It’s sure to benefit and bless someone.

You were born into this world as a unique person, for a unique purpose. Don’t waste your days trying to be someone else. Find and fulfill your God-given purpose and live it unapologetically.