Why It’s No Coincidence That So Many INFJs and INFPs Are Writers

IntrovertDear.com INFJs INFPs writing

I have a really weird thing that happens to me whenever I receive a bit of emotionally disturbing news. Whether it’s something small (like someone tells me I said the wrong thing at the dinner table) or something big (like getting hit with rejection or betrayal), my system immediately goes into shut-down mode. I freeze like a panicked animal; my throat, chest and stomach lock up, and the rest of me feels totally numb.

This numb feeling can last a few minutes, or it can last a few days.

When it starts to wear off, I slowly start coming out of it. Hesitantly, I poke at myself. Does this hurt? What about here? I try to gather the facts but all I get is an overwhelming sense of confusion. Then, the strong emotions come. Sometimes a sudden explosion of anger hurls itself through me. Or sometimes I end up in tears on the floor, shocked and a little scared at the intensity of my reaction. Then I go into detective mode again. What does this mean? And why did it manifest in that way?

When it’s all said and done, it can sometimes take me a full two weeks to thoroughly process a medium-level emotional event and its consequences.

This is highly inconvenient when you’re trying to express how you feel to the outside world.

This is also why I suck at arguing. In the heat of the moment, I’m frozen. My highly sensitive nervous system is flooded with stress chemicals, my introvert brain is struggling to react much more quickly than is natural, and my intuitive nature is overwhelmed by too many pieces of information coming too fast.

It’s been like this my entire life. I can never say what I’m feeling or why I’m feeling that way in the moment with someone else. It’s only days and weeks later that I get my a-ha! moments. But by then, it’s too late. The person to which I was struggling to express something has moved on. The argument or the event was over for them a long time ago, and now it seems weird that I’m bringing it up again at such a late date.

For INFJs and INFPs, Writing Is a Lifeline

It wasn’t until I started meeting so many other INFJ and INFP personality types that I realized this is a common occurrence among us. It wasn’t until I started coaching so many other highly sensitive people (who are also highly creative people, empaths, and intuitives) that I realized there is a very good reason so many of us have turned to writing as a lifeline.

Writing is basically the only way we have of truly explaining ourselves.

This is also the reason, I believe, that so much of our writing is autobiographical. As we grow up and find ourselves as adults, we go through things like anyone else. We may go through abusive relationships, toxic workplaces, health problems, and mental illness. But for us, it’s incredibly difficult to sit in a circle and share with strangers, or even sit down at the kitchen table with our parents and describe what’s going on. Because, for us, every important experience we have is deep and wide, complicated and complex. Any experience has the potential to grow into a sprawling independent universe of thought and feeling in our own minds.

The only way to convey a significant part of our experience is for us to put it down in writing.

In writing, we might not say exactly what we mean, but it feels private and quiet enough to bring us close to the mark. We’re able to be honest and open in a way that just can’t happen when there is another pair of eyes staring back at us, possibly waiting to judge us for our answers. In writing, we can go over our words again and again, making absolutely sure that each word is the word we want to use, that each sentence or phrase will bring us closer to true self-expression.

For all of you INFJs, INFPs, highly sensitive people, highly creative people, empaths, and intuitives out there — no matter how you identify — you know that finding the right word at the right time is sometimes the only thing that can save you.

This is why writing is so important to us. This is why I see the same question asked all over the place online: Why are so many INFJs writers? (And to that, I would add that the same should be asked of INFPs.) It’s because we need it like no one else. It’s a lifeboat for us, a lot of the time.

Without it, our ships would have sunk long ago.

If you’re interested in learning more about INFJ writers and how we work, check out my book, The INFJ Writer. And if you’re interested in coaching made specifically for INFJ and INFP writers, shoot me an email at writecitysf@gmail.com and let’s talk.

This article was originally published on LaurenSapala.com. It is republished here with permission.

Read this: 3 Reasons INFJs Have Trouble Writing, Even Though They Love It  retina_favicon1

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Image credit: @nina_p_v via Twenty20

  • njguy54

    IT*Js are natural writers, in part, because writing is by its nature a solitary act, where you have to be comfortable being alone with your thoughts enough to organize them into words and sentences. Many people can’t tolerate that level of introspection, or simply can’t sit still long enough to write. Even more so, they can’t stand the editing and rewriting that’s crucial to all good writing.

    I’ve been a writer pretty much all my life, and in college I coached a lot of my classmates (usually getting paid in beer). What I found is that people can often write well, but find the writing process to be pure torture. That’s why you hear so many people say they have a great idea for a novel, but somehow never get around to writing it. I, on the other hand, would probably crack up if I couldn’t write regularly.

  • Cassie Gonzalez

    I wrote down the info for your book to purchase and read after I finish the current draft of my wip. This article changed my mind. Lauren I hope I am misunderstanding your message. I know just what you mean about freezing up and then painstakingly analyzing emotional events. You sound like this tendency to let our emotions cripple us is some kind of endearing trait. It is a hindrance and though it steers us towards thoughtful recollection it shouldn’t be deemed as immovable or quirky or quaint. I’ve been in danger because of it at times and suffered terrible consequences at others. INFJs are perhaps capable of the greatest self improvement and we can learn to think and act in the moment. Don’t identify a crutch just so you can lean on it more heavily.