Being a highly sensitive person can be a pain…quite literally. However, the traits making you highly sensitive can also be a magical gift for being an awesome writer. We are going to explore the definition of being highly sensitive and offer some tools for turning this personal characteristic into a power tool for your writing career.
Honor Your Sensitivity
Although you may have been told, “Oh, you are being too sensitive” in the past, you can move those opinions aside to embrace this part of your nature. Sensitivity comes in several forms. You may have acute physical, mental or emotional responses to many things. These triggers may be external (social or environmental) or internal (intrapersonal feedback loop with yourself.) While some people want to assign high sensitivity to the shy, they can be an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between.
Science has confirmed the existence of high sensitivity. Calling those who respond to the world in a more sensitive way HSPs, one study was done noting their response to photos compared to non-HSPs. Whether the emotion of the photo was positive or negative, those who are HSPs showed higher brain activation in the area associated with empathy.
Research has also confirmed being an HSP is genetic and biological in about 20% of the population. No one really chooses to be highly sensitive. They just naturally notice things less sensitive people miss in everyday life. Research also confirms highly sensitive people are often intellectually gifted.
If you are not certain you have this trait, Oprah’s website offers a quiz to help you learn if you are processing the world around you in a highly sensitive way. As the author of this article, I define sensitivity as – The ability to pick up on the feelings, emotions and energies of other people and situations. Some would call it empathic. Others may describe this skill as the “small voice” of a Higher Power.
Sensitivity as a Super Power
The trait of sensitivity is about being observant and aware of the details of events and situations. Since about 80% of the population is clueless about the things HSPs notice, an HSP can bring valuable insight to others.
HSPs are more creative because brainstorming concepts requires introspection and editing of ideas. The world is a deep experience for this group of people and they need to find places to quietly turn those observations over in their brain until it explodes into new ideas to share with the world around them.
Almost every detail is observed by an HSP. They see the world filled with interesting things like art, the softness of fabric or the enjoyment of a well-prepared meal. Because they feel these moments of amazement, they can help those who do not possess their level of sensitivity.
If left to take control over a person’s life, high sensitivity can be crippling. Instead of letting your sensitive nature go wild, be proactive. Here are a few tools sensitive people can use to protect themselves from the damaging effects of their natural gift:
- Decide how much time you will spend with others. This decision applies to both in-person relationships and social media. Only an individual can determine what level of social experience serves them and when it can become harmful. Decide – and then honor the boundaries you have set for yourself.
- Guard your health. Being sensitive can increase the effect of our fast-paced world. Stress and toxicity in the body will eventually lead to “dis-ease” in the long run. In the short run, your health can be compromised by everything from emotional upheaval to poor food choices. Be proactive in preserving your health.
- Seek your own joy. Many HSPs are “people-pleasers” and enablers. Judge whether to take care of other people’s needs based on the question of whether it brings you joy or stress. Never sacrifice your own needs to please another person. Stop processing the toxic waste of other people. Find ways to delight in the things you do for others – and/or – learn to say “no” and mean it.
- Incorporate self-love into your life. Demonstrating love for self can show up in many ways. It can be something as simple as getting up from the computer frequently to take a walk, meditate or practice yoga. Self-love is about being gentle with yourself without any shame or guilt. Spend time outside every day. Dance to a favorite song. Drink lots of pure water. Whatever it takes to give yourself permission to be your best.
- Trust your inner guidance system. If you have been told multiple times you are too sensitive, you may have responded by shutting down some of your responses to your environment. Practice letting the opinions of others go into the trash heap. Their opinion serves no one (…unless their opinion is you are awesome, talented and priceless.) Use the natural skill of being sensitive to be bold and courageous. Use the small voice inside your head as a trustworthy gift. Use your intuition as a guide to the horizon of future success.
Highly Sensitive Writers are Best
Being hyper-aware can be difficult to manage at times, but it is a quality essential for the best writers. I know this sounds a bit bold and some people will disagree. Let me see if I can outline the reasons why I believe the statement is true.
Generally, a nonfiction writer is sharing information for helping others along their own individual journey. Whether the book is about self-help, improved business process or a personal memoir, the author wants someone else to benefit from the things they know from their own life.
The act of being a nonfiction author is always generous. While some nonfiction writers appear self-centered and arrogant, when you dig deeper you find a person who feels they have something valuable to share with others. They spend countless hours downloading their brain, organizing their thoughts and getting their most useful information onto the page totally to benefit others.
This level of generosity cannot be found in those who are not highly sensitive in some way. While not everyone who authors a highly valuable nonfiction book would be classified as an HSP, they all are tapping into the sensitive parts of themselves to bring their writing to the world.
Imagination is critical to a fiction writer’s success. However, much fiction is based on real life or historical events. The best fiction taps into minute details and describes each scene in the life of its characters. Without extreme sensitivity, these details would be impossible. Even fantasy and other fiction is enhanced from the skills of high sensitivity.
I am prejudiced. I admit it. However, I think the quality separating an average ghostwriter from the best is their ability to be highly sensitive to their author clients. The industry is filled with technically correct writers who are focused on academic skills. Yet, I believe people want the services of a ghostwriter who can to “get inside their head” to write in the author’s voice.
It’s not easy to do…but it can be extremely valuable to many types of authors. From the person who knows they want to become an author but has no time – to the author who simply doesn’t have writing skills – many people become better authors because they chose to hire a ghostwriter. I cherish, and try to manage, my highly sensitive nature. I think it is the secret to my success.
Kate Frank, Nonfiction Ghostwriter and Book Coach
New website: http://ProfitReadyBook.com
Reach out to her with email: Kate@AuthorityRedefined.com
Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ghostwritingkate/
Connect on Twitter: https://twitter.com/profitreadybook
Kate will discuss this topic further during her presentation at our weekly teleseminar on August 15, 2018. Join us! https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/teleseminar-kate-frank-success-strategies-for-highly-sensitive-writers/
LOVE this post! We sensitive types often feel the whole world is against us–not only because of others’ remarks but because of the “subtext” we tend to read into everything, whether what we read is actually there or not.
Readers of this post might also be interested in my blog (I could have called it “for sensitive Christians” at that), especially the recent posts at https://strengthfortheweary.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/christians-who-think-too-much/ and https://strengthfortheweary.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/fellowship-for-the-christian-introvert/, and especially the “Know That God Loves You as You Are” section of the latter.