How COVID-19 changed my perspective on being an introvert

Image by Mira Cosic from Pixabay

It doesn’t take new acquaintances long to learn two things about me: I’m an introvert, and I’m a homebody.

When stay-at-home orders first were issued at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, my life didn’t change much. I couldn’t go to the movie theater anymore, and I had to wear a mask to the grocery store, and there were a few days I tried to avoid using the bathroom until I really had to go so I could conserve toilet paper.

Other than that, my routine remained status quo.

I didn’t think I would mind hunkering down for a while. Even before the pandemic, I liked to spend my free time around home – reading, writing, bingeing a Netflix series, doing a little yard work. Quiet days at home give my thoughts time to roam. I can daydream at my leisure and explore ideas for stories.

In the past, I’ve found an abundance of writing inspiration in corners and crannies around my house. For example:

  • Reading Jane Goodall’s Seeds of Hope helped inspire part of my work-in-progress, The Witch’s Witness. (In fact, most nonfiction is a good source for inspiration when the well runs dry … truth isn’t always stranger than fiction, but it can certainly kindle it.)
  • The harebells blooming wild in my backyard are also called witch’s thimbles, which help put me in a spooky mood to write about witches in high summer.
  • A trip to my attic uncovered three dusty boxes left by the previous homeowners. Further investigation revealed a treasure trove of 100+ year-old books.
  • An evening on the porch swing listening to cicadas, bird calls, kids shouting down the block, and distant train horns sparked a sensory poem.

But as much as I value and cherish being at home, spending the past year and a half in my house finally began to replete my fiction-writing resources. I reached a point where I wanted to tear up my introvert card and fling myself among people. I longed to refill my cup of ideas, to people watch for ideas about body language quirks and dialogue tidbits. I wanted a long road trip where I could see new scenery of the United States, hear new accents, taste new regional flavors. I especially wanted to book a cabin in Vermont, where The Witch’s Witness primarily takes place, so I could authentically capture what it’s like to breathe the air in the Green Mountains and walk those trails.

But COVID-19 safety precautions kept me home.

Writing can be a solitary endeavor at many stages of the process, but I never realized how often I need to break out of my introvert shell for the sake of a story. Suddenly I couldn’t go to the library for research. I couldn’t visit the coffee shop or park for people watching. I couldn’t experience life beyond the borders of my home-work-grocery store bubble.

By December 2020, writer’s block descended. I thought endless hours at home would mean the most productive writing months of my life, and at the beginning that was true. But as weeks piled up into months and then mounded into a year, I learned the value of being among people to write about people. I missed encountering other places to help envision settings and bring them to life.

In 2019, all I wanted was more time around home, to be left alone to write. I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me staying home in 2020 eventually would hinder my writing more than help it.

Now that it’s 2021, I’m grateful to be experiencing life beyond my front door and outside city limits again. Home is still my recharging station (and believe me, extended time outside my house still depletes my batteries), but this introvert is happy to be entering society again.