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To Be More Creative, Be An Introvert


Author Susan Cain declares: “Without introverts, the world would be devoid of: the theory of gravity; the theory of relativity; W. B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming”; Chopin’s nocturnes; Proust’s In Search of Lost Time; Peter Pan…”

She quotes science journalist Winifred Gallagher: “The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement.

“Neither E = mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal.”

Cain adds that Psychologist Carl Jung noted “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a [person] would be in the lunatic asylum.”

Cain says, “This is partly because we are all gloriously complex individuals, but also because there are so many different kinds of introverts and extroverts. Introversion and extroversion interact with our other personality traits and personal histories, producing wildly different kinds of people.

“So if you’re an artistic American guy whose father wished you’d try out for the football team like your rough-and-tumble brothers, you’ll be a very different kind of introvert from, say, a Finnish businesswoman whose parents were lighthouse keepers. (Finland is a famously introverted nation.”

Quotes are from her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

[Photo: a ‘party animal’ scene from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)]


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Here are more quotes and resources on the intersection of the personality trait of introversion and creative expression.


Introvert Quotes On Creativity | LonerWolf

What’s the main ingredient of creative success? Solitude. Here is a collection of over 30 introvert quotes on creativity, from actors and poets to artists.

“To be creative you must create a space for yourself where you can be undisturbed… separate from everyday concerns.” ~ John Cleese

“Art starts alone – and convinces society later.” ~ Douglas Davis

“On their best days, writers all over the world are winning Pulitzers, all alone in their studios, with no one watching.” ~ Jeffrey Eugenides

“And here in my isolation I can grow stronger. Poetry seems to come of itself, without effort, and I need only let myself dream a little while painting to suggest it.” ~ Paul Gauguin


The Rise of the New Groupthink –


As the influential psychologist Hans Eysenck observed, introversion fosters creativity by “concentrating the mind on the tasks in hand, and preventing the dissipation of energy on social and sexual matters unrelated to work.”

In other words, a person sitting quietly under a tree in the backyard, while everyone else is clinking glasses on the patio, is more likely to have an apple land on his head. (Newton was one of the world’s great introverts: William Wordsworth described him as “A mind for ever/ Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”)

Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in.

But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist.


Feedback and the introverted creative process – WickedWitch

“It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing. As a child I scribbled; and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to ‘write stories’. Still I had a dearer pleasure than this, which was the formation of castles in the air—the indulging in waking dreams—the following up trains of thought, which had for their subject the formation of a succession of imaginary incidents.

My dreams were at once more fantastic and agreeable than my writings. In the latter I was a close imitator—rather doing as others had done, than putting down the suggestions of my own mind. What I wrote was intended at least for one other eye—my childhood’s companion and friend; but my dreams were all my own ; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed—my dearest pleasure when free.”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – First preface to “Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus.”

The author of the post {I don’t find her name} adds an interesting comment:

In the era of Mary Shelley introversion as a path to creation is a more common phenomenon. Introverts are energized by their inner world, extraverts by the interaction with others. In the first preface to Frankenstein, Mary Shelley describes her inner fantasies as her greatest joy and difficult to convert into language, without the loss of their brilliance.

~~~~~~~ – Books about the power of alone time

Two of the five titles in this post:

Solitude: A Return to the Self by Anthony Storr

British psychiatrist Anthony Storr…Pointing to several figures throughout history–from Beethoven and Beatrix Potter to Ann Sexton–whose greatest achievements came about in moments of solitude, he argues that taking alone time can lead to an enhanced understanding of oneself, as well as bouts of superior creativity.

Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude by Lionel Fisher

Six years of living alone on an island in the Pacific Northwest showed freelance writer Lionel Fisher both the bliss and treachery of extensive solitude. Fisher shares wisdom from his own experience and those of others, exploring the perils of alienation and the ways in which extensive alone time can bring happiness. “What is tragic, and so wasteful of the sanctity of life,” he writes on his website, “is that we seek our happiness, our fulfillment, our answers, our very identity in others when first we must find it in ourselves.”


A couple of my related posts – here, on The Creative Mind :

Ang Lee: The Director, The Introvert

Oscar-winning director Ang Lee represents many creative people with a constellation of traits associated with introversion.

Creative Thinking and Being Introverted or Highly Sensitive 

A number of writers and researchers associate the personality traits of high sensitivity and introversion with creativity and creative thinking.


To Be More Creative, Be An Introvert

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). To Be More Creative, Be An Introvert. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Aug 2013
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