According to various sources on the internet, INFJs love creative writing. Now, I know that information found online can go either way on the spectrum of accuracy, but I’m inclined to agree with this statement.
I’m a writing coach and an INFJ myself, plus I have many INFJ clients — so I bring some experience to this.
But that’s not the only reason I believe INFJs love writing. I also own a blog. And as the author of that blog, I can see the search terms people use when they stumble across my posts. Every single day, I get some form of “INFJ” paired with “trouble writing” or “difficulty writing” or “have a hard time writing.”
There is definitely an INFJ population out there searching for answers as to why we have such a tough time getting our creative thoughts down on the page. And creative writing means so much to those INFJs that they’re searching doggedly for answers.
Personally, I struggled for years before I was able to complete a story, and for much of that time, I wasn’t writing anything at all. And — being the INFJ that I am — I’ve always been intensely interested in the reasons behind my writing roadblocks. Ironically, I still struggle to write, even though it’s the one thing in the whole world that I’m most passionate about.
After reading a huge amount of information on introverts and INFJs, I’ve identified three reasons many INFJs have trouble writing.
And even if you’re not an INFJ, you might find yourself stopped cold in your creativity by some of these things as well.
Why INFJs Have Trouble Writing
1. INFJs want to fully understand something before they try it.
Extroverts jump into new situations to get hands-on experience. In contrast, when introverts need to learn something new, they prefer to step back and watch others until they’ve analyzed the situation and gotten a handle on it. With the quiet intensity of a crouching panther, INFJs can take this watch-and-wait attitude to a whole new level before they actually spring.
For example, I knew I wanted to be a writer all the way back in 1996. Instead of actually writing, I read books by the bushel, pumped every person I came in contact with for stories, got a degree in literature, and worked in a bookstore.
It wasn’t until ten years later — in 2006 — that I began writing my first novel. I don’t regret any of the experiences I had along the way, but if I had started writing a decade earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of hand-wringing over whether or not my writing dream would ever come true.
2. INFJs think in flashes of insight, which can be hard to translate on the page.
INFJs negotiate the world primarily through their Introverted Intuition. We communicate this externally by saying we have a “feeling” or a “hunch” about someone’s character or the way a situation might unfold.
But what happens on the inside is we “see” things in sudden flashes of insight. These flashes manifest in images that follow one another rapidly through our brain, with each image containing data embedded in it. That’s why it’s sometimes so hard to explain our gut feelings to others.
For example, when I finished my second novel, I kept seeing images in my mind of a giant bull, and then a harpy, and then a lace shawl. These images came on very strongly and repeated themselves in a cycle.
When I was younger and had less experience with myself and with writing, I dismissed these “mind pictures” as strange or irrelevant. But in this instance, I sat down and wrote, letting the images take me where they would.
It turned out that my story ended with the villain transforming into a monstrous creature that was half minotaur and half harpy. And guess what this monster was wearing when the hero took it down? A blood-spattered lace shawl.
Weird, yes. But definitely creative.
3. INFJs want to go deep or go home.
It’s nearly impossible for INFJs to think about anything in a shallow way. This also applies to many introverts in general. If we’re interested in it, we’re analyzing it.
And if we’re an INFJ, we are then following each separate thread of our analysis forward into the future and backward into the past. We have a talent for forecasting. Computing dozens of different possible outcomes and juggling all of them simultaneously in the forefront of our brain comes to us as naturally as breathing.
Translating this to written form is tricky, to say the least.
For example, writing a simple conversation between two of my characters can take up pages and pages in my first sloppy draft. In my mind, each handful of words they exchange contains a deep well of back story, unspoken feeling, and subconscious psychological motive.
I can easily get caught up in trying to convey all of it to the reader — losing the thread of the actual plot of my story.
But that’s what sloppy first drafts are for, to get everything down in one place so we can come back to it later and do revisions to polish it up.
How to Write More
If you’re an INFJ, an introvert, or simply a writer who struggles to make real headway in your writing, the answer lies in a simple practice right in front of you:
You have to write.
Even if you cringe while you’re doing it, or you’re disappointed because it’s not measuring up to what’s inside your head, or you can’t find the perfect words, you have to press on. The more you write, the better you’ll get to know yourself and your writing practice.
Your trust in the process and your creativity will grow.
If you don’t know what personality type you are but you’re interested in finding out, you can take a free online assessment here. For those who are INFJ or INFP writers, you can read about why INFJs and INFPs have such hard time with criticism of their writing here.
And if you’re interested in learning more about INFJ writers and how we work, check out my book, The INFJ Writer.
Regardless of whether you’re an INFJ, if you’re reading this, the time has come for you to step fully into yourself and claim confidence in your writing. The only way to do this is to get to know yourself through your practice of writing.
And to do that, you have to write.
A version of this article was originally published on LaurenSapala.com.
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