Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

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: what you wanted to do as a child, what work you gravitate toward, and what you envy in other peoples’ lives.

She also 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?

  • When you’re about to embark on a book-length work, think about it in relation to the three steps. As a kid, I wanted to be a writer, a full-time book reader (though I didn’t know such a job existed), or a detective. I liked anything to do with those three topics. I still do. Sometimes I write about detectives, and my day job involves working with other writers on their stuff.
  • When you’re looking at education, consider both virtual and live options. Thanks to the pandemic, more online workshops, webinars and courses are available than ever before. I’ve done both. My introverted side likes the virtual, self-paced kind. My side that loves hanging around with other writers likes the live ones. 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.
  • 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”–a block of an hour where you can be alone, neither working your day job nor writing, but doing nothing at all.