The Elements of Style: A Guide to Achieving the Classic Introverted Temperament
The Elements of Style and the typical introverted temperament are alike in many ways. The little book is well-regarded for its poignant observations and focused instruction to help writers become better at their craft. It also highlights values and practices that are typical for introverts. Three of these stand out:
• Brevity is a cornerstone of communication.
• Creativity is highly valued.
• A self-centered disposition is shunned.
Brevity is a cornerstone of communication, both in the little book and for introverts. Words are not wasted, but thought through carefully before being shared. Introverts have perfected Strunk’s demand to “omit needless words.” Why say “hello, how are you doing?” when you can stare awkwardly at the floor instead? Strunk and White also advise against explaining too much, overstating, and overwriting. Introverts hardly overdo anything, hence the understated personality. Usually, introverts select their words carefully, conscious of spewing too much information that may not be valuable to others. As a writer, it is important to keep this in mind. As an introvert, this is essential.
Creativity is highly valued, both in the little book and for introverts. Some of our most creative celebrities are introverts: Michelangelo, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Christina Aguilera. Creativity and introversion often go hand-in-hand. The Elements of Style may seem strict in its instruction to get to the point, but it is also encouraging of creativity. The writers suggest using words that are forcible and descriptive without the crutch of qualifiers. The authors employ an imaginative use of personification in the little book, regarding punctuation and words as actors in the writing. “A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses.” This kind of understated creativity in writing requires a great deal of reading—a favorite pastime of introverts.
SHUNNING THE SPOTLIGHT
A self-centered disposition is shunned, both in the little book and for introverts. This is one of the most easily identifiable characteristics of an introvert, and an important rule in The Elements of Style. The little book was written by two authors across decades, but you can hardly tell who wrote what. This is classic introversion, for the personalities to blend in seamlessly, almost unnoticed. Introverts collaborate behind the scenes, happy to contribute as needed and support the ideas of others, as the little book exists to do. Strunk and White advise that the writer should place their self in the background, and that their style will emerge naturally with practice. This is similar to introverts, as such people typically place themselves away from the spotlight, allowing others to discover their personalities gradually, naturally, as necessary.
The Elements of Style is a tool for writers to learn to write more clearly and precisely. Many of the tips the authors call upon are natural inclinations for introverts. Brevity as a cornerstone for communication is essential to any quiet person who prefers not to engage in lengthy conversation. Creativity is important in being able to express oneself, especially among those with a rich interior life. A self-centered disposition is shunned, not necessarily because a person is shy, but because displaying oneself for the sake of drawing attention is draining and unauthentic. With so many clear overlaps, one may begin to wonder who Strunk and White were actually writing for.