Although INFJ and INFP writers are both intuitive, and also emotionally sensitive and highly creative, they tend to approach the creative process of writing differently. Both types experience high sensitivity to any sort of criticism — whether it’s constructive or not — and both also often write slowly. Both INFJ and INFP writers also do the best if they allow themselves to use their intuition to feel their way through the story, instead of their thinking skills to rationally decide on how things should be done.
But it’s there that the similarities end. Because even though INFJ and INFP writers both experience the most healing and strength in their writing process when they give themselves permission to use their intuition to channel their creativity, there are core differences between the two types and their separate writing processes that can’t be ignored.
INFJs Discover Through Download, While INFPs “Write to Explore”
Most INFJ writers report that they receive fragments of the story as downloads into their consciousness. That means that they’re usually involved in some other life activity that is not writing, like driving, gardening, or doing the dishes, when they see an image or “just know” something suddenly about their story. It’s like a little packet of information about their characters, or the next scene in their memoir, just drops into their brain and begins to unfold in their mind’s eye. They usually need a little more time to sit with this download, but then they’re ready to write it down, exactly how they see it in their mind.
INFP writers, on the other hand, often have no idea what they’re going to write, or what the next piece of their story is, until they sit down and start the actual writing. I’ve had many INFPs report to me that the writing process feels like a choose-your-own-adventure game to them, but the only way they can see the options from which they can choose is to start moving the pen in their hand, or their fingers over the keyboard. I call this “writing to explore,” and it means that you use the writing process itself as a means of discovery.
INFPs Are Butterflies, While INFJs Are More Like Worker Ants
I’ve worked with countless INFPs who berate themselves for not being able to stick to one thing at a time. However, this is not a character flaw, it’s just the way INFP writers are wired. INFP writers do the best if they give themselves permission to experiment and play with more than one project at a time. The novelty and freshness that comes from fluttering between many different projects nourishes them creatively and gives them the feeling they love more than any other: freedom.
INFJs, in contrast, can get anxious if they have too many creative projects open at the same time and they don’t feel like they can close any of the loops. INFJs love closing loops, it soothes their security center like nothing else, so you’ll often see an INFJ writer doggedly pursuing one creative project until it’s finished and done and they can shut the file on it, forever.
INFPs Are Artists and Artisans, While INFJs Tend to Be Sages and Scholars
When it comes to the archetypes we each carry in our personality, I’ve run into too many artist/artisan INFPs to count. Artists and artisans are most often focused on craftsmanship and the beauty of a creative work. They love knowing how things are put together, and what happens when you take them apart. For this reason, you’ll find a lot of INFPs who are creative tinkerers, because they’re just so curious as to what makes a work of art tick, from the inside out. INFP writers also pursue other creative endeavors much of the time, such as painting, sculpture, collage, and music.
INFJs, in my experience, tend to carry more of the sage and scholar archetypes in their personality. Much of their writing is devoted to using their own life experiences to bring a healing message to the masses. Many INFJ writers can also be found in academia or teaching in the world of continuing education. Although both INFP and INFJ writers love to do research, the scholar bent is more pronounced in the INFJ writer population.
All differences aside, both INFJ and INFP writers struggle with the writing process, and both types usually self-judge and beat themselves up constantly because conventional writing methods don’t usually work for them. However, once they begin to understand how to tune in to their own natural intuition and let it do what it has wanted to do all along — direct their creative flow — everything gets easier.
If you’re an INFJ or an INFP writer the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn more about yourself, and give your intuition more opportunities to come to the surface and help you out when you need it. It’s an incredibly effective natural talent that most intuitive people suppress out of shame, because they’ve never felt understood in life.
You don’t need to feel this shame or confusion about yourself, or struggle with writing, any longer. Once you realize what you are, and how you work as a creative being, everything will get better.
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Intuitive Writing, a six-step online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with writing. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book on creative marketing for INFJ and INFP writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers.