Book Reviews

Introverts, find your restorative niche!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Tidbits from Quiet: Open plan offices reduce productivity and impair memory. They make people sick, hostile, unmotivated and insecure. Online collaborations can be very successful, but that doesn’t mean work groups are better in all situations. Your sweet spot is the place where you are optimally stimulated.

This is a terrific non-fiction book about how to thrive as an introvert in a world increasingly designed for extroverts.

Cain proposes three key steps to identifying your core personal projects and remarks on the need for introverts to create for themselves a ‘restorative niche,’ somewhere they can go to be alone and recharge.

What does it mean for writers? For me it explains a lot, especially the worth of my online writing network (writer friends I’ve met through the Internet and in person). When you’re looking at education, maybe you’d be better off in a virtual workshop than in a live one.

I’ve done both (virtual workshops through UCLA and Writers Online Workshops and many others; live workshops at my MFA residencies, Tin House Writers Conference, SFU’s writing seminars, night school, and about one jillion others).

The good thing about virtual workshops is that you get good critiques, plus a sense of community, without having to leave your house. The good thing about the live workshops is that they also come with a larger inspirational element: presentations by real writers on hard-won secrets of craft.

Free advice (worth twice the price): do both, in whatever combination you can afford that works for you.

But back to the excellent book–as a writer, think about how to find, nurture and protect your restorative niche. Maybe it’s not a specific place, but a time of day–what my friend, the artist Tim Sullivan, calls his “do-nothing time.”

Recommendation from PS Dobie: Read It