The Real Reason INFJ and INFP Writers Can’t Seem to Start—or Finish—the Book They Want to Writer
I talk to many writers on a weekly basis who are beyond frustrated with their writing lives. They feel discouraged, panicked, depressed, and full of self-doubt. Either they’ve been working on a book forever, with no finish line in sight, or they have a great idea for a book, but they can’t quite make themselves begin. Or, they’re making progress, but the progress feels so slow and torturous, that it almost feels like no progress at all.
When I talk to these writers they almost always think they know what their problem is. “I need more time to write,” is one I hear a lot. Or they tell me they need to get on a schedule, they need accountability, they need to just sit their butt in the chair and do it. They almost always blame themselves and beat themselves up for being weak in some way, or not working hard enough. This self-blame only makes the depression and discouragement worse.
The real problem is never any of these things. The real problem is not with the writer, but with the writing process they’re trying to use to start, or finish, their book.
We live in an overwhelmingly competitive, aggressive, achievement-oriented world, and because of that the mindset of our society is always focused on producing and accomplishing goals. We very rarely slow down to enjoy the process of life or live in the moment. Sure, we see a lot of stuff about “being in the present moment” from the blogs we read and in the yoga classes we attend, but the truth is that people in Western culture don’t really know how to do that. This is not entirely our fault since we’ve been programmed from day one to identify our value as human beings through our external accomplishments.
However, when we bring this mindset and vibe to our creative work, and to our deeply meaningful practice with our writing, everything just goes off the rails. Our characters don’t want to be on a schedule and our memoir doesn’t come out of us in neatly packaged chapters that are immediately ready for the editor’s red pen. Instead, writing — especially the writing of intuitive people like INFJ and INFP writers — comes to us in a million little pieces. All of these million little pieces are messy, and confusing, and much of the time we have no idea where they will lead.
When we tap into our creativity and the writing comes out of us in this way — messy and confusing — that’s when we start freaking out. And that’s when we start doubling down on our efforts to control the process. We bring in all of our achievement-oriented writing strategies: getting on a schedule, setting goals, deciding how we think the story should unfold. It doesn’t work. In fact, it only makes everything worse. It disconnects the writer from the work even more and we’re left with a feeling of despair that we won’t ever finish it, and loneliness, because we just want things to go back to the way they were before, when we were in love with our story.
What I’ve discovered through coaching intuitive writers for over seven years is that the problem is not the writer, it’s this process we’re all trying to use that I’ve outlined above. It simply doesn’t work for intuitive writers. Instead of driving ourselves toward goals, intuitive writers need to let go and let the process naturally unfold. Instead of rationally deciding what would be the next best thing for our characters to do, intuitive writers need to shift their focus from the characters’ action, to the characters’ feelings.
The method I use with my clients is called Intuitive Writing and it focuses on building a relationship with your manuscript, your characters, and your creative work overall. Instead of prioritizing masculine-energy values like accomplishing and producing, it prioritizes feminine-energy values like intuition and empathy. It’s hard to wrap your head around at first — especially if you’ve been caught up in mainstream rational writing methods for years — but once you get into the groove with it, your entire writing life changes. Writing becomes fun again, and something you finally look forward to.
I’ve put everything I’ve learned about INFJ and INFP writers and Intuitive Writing into a pre-recorded video course, and because of all the craziness going on with quarantine right now I’m offering it for only $50.00 through May 3rd instead of its usual $149.00 price tag. You can find out more here:
I also love to talk about this stuff with writers, so if you have any questions at all, feel free to hit me up at email@example.com. I get a lot of email so it might be a minute before I get back to you, but I do try to answer them all.
Remember, if you’re an INFJ or INFP writer who constantly struggles with writing, there is nothing wrong with you. You’re not a failed writer, you’ve just been trying to use a system that fails intuitive writers.
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer, a writing guide for sensitive intuitive writers, and The INFJ Revolution. She is also a writing coach for writers of the INFJ and INFP personality type and 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.