I work with a lot of writers who have a big problem. They have a million ideas for stories and lots of different characters running through their head at any given moment, and they start so many different projects with the wildest of hopes and a fiery burst of enthusiasm. But they never finish anything. These writers have a drawerful of unfinished stories (or a folder on their laptop) and every time they think about all the stories they’ve started—or thought about starting—and never finished, it instantly triggers a tidal wave of shame and self-loathing.
Almost all of these writers have assumptions and theories about why they are this way. They get bored too easily, they’re too “ADD” with projects, they can’t follow through, they’re spacey or flaky or scattered. And the very worst: they just aren’t cut out to be writers.
Every November I get tons of emails from INFJ and INFP writers asking if NaNoWriMo is a good fit for them. And the answer is always yes and no. No, because intuitive writers tend to write slowly. We need time to go into the deepest depths with our characters and our stories, and 30 days isn’t much time. There’s also the issue of feeling pressured, which doesn’t work well for many introverts, and aiming to write 50k words in one month is definitely a fair amount of pressure.
However, NaNoWriMo can also be beneficial to intuitive writers because it pushes us to actually get going, and we intuitive writers tend to spend a lot of time up in our heads, planning and thinking and dreaming, but not actually DOING. It’s the doing part that can be the most difficult for us. So, with something like NaNoWriMo, we’re kind of forced to jump into the cold water, get used to it, and start swimming.
The mythology about writers who love writing runs rampant in the online world. Many successful authors give interviews where they say they can’t live without writing, they have to write or they’ll go mad, and they live for those precious hours when they can sit down, in solitude and seclusion, and write themselves into the blissful creative zone for hours on end.
While I don’t doubt that these kinds of writers exist, there is also another reality for writers that is rarely acknowledged. Specifically, a lot of writers don’t enjoy writing. At all.
Today’s guest post comes from Sarah Terry. Sarah is a counsellor working in schools in the UK. She is also the author of “Inside the Teenage Mind” and hosts a YouTube channel where she gives mental health hints, tips and advice. Sarah also provides self-help online courses for a variety of mental health issues. You can learn more at www.sarahterry.co.uk.
I discovered I was an introvert around eight years ago when I literally felt like I was going mad. I had even been to my doctor to ask about early menopause and would often cry for no reason, pushing away those I loved.
I was working in a busy, open plan office at the time. My managers sat on the same desk pod as me and I constantly felt scrutinised. Although this wasn’t necessarily the case, my interpretation of the environment was such that I felt like a hopeless goldfish, doomed to provide entertainment to all passers-by. I would come home from work and cry, unable to vocally articulate to my (extroverted) husband what I was feeling, much less why.