There is one common problem almost all INFP writers struggle with, and that’s choosing just one creative project to work on. Most INFP writers have a million ideas, and many have started multiple writing projects in an effort to bring every one of those million ideas to life. Then the INFP writer becomes completely overwhelmed because they have too many projects going on—most of them in various unfinished states—and they don’t know how to focus themselves on finishing any one thing.
If you are an INFP writer, you have probably been through this cycle many times. And you have probably also beaten yourself up for being “scattered,” “unfocused,” or “not dedicated enough” to follow through on finishing things. Rest assured, you are none of the above. What’s actually going on is that you are a highly creative person, and because of your INFP personality type, you work in a different way than most other people when it comes to creative projects.
For INFP writers and artists, emotion is everything. INFPs don’t just feel their emotions, they form intimate bonds with them. INFPs use their emotions as a value system, a moral compass, a form of nourishment, an exploratory tool, and a way to orient themselves in the world. For an INFP, emotions are pretty much the key to everything.
This is a huge gift, because INFP personality types are able to swim deeper in the emotional depths than almost any other type. They can be present with people who are experiencing intense distress, and they can hold space for the deepest grief. This is an invaluable skill to have when it comes to working with characters who posses the most complex of psychological landscapes, because an INFP writer can portray the subtlest nuances of emotional motivation like no one else.
However, this can also be a stumbling block when it’s time to choose a project to work on and stick with it until the end.
Because emotion is such a core part of how INFP writers see and navigate the world, it plays a big part in how INFPs make choices. Specifically, when it’s time to choose something to work on, most INFPs use their skill with emotion to project how they will feel with the choice they’ve made, once they’ve made it. And because almost each and every one of their creative ideas has its roots in something deeply meaningful to the INFP writer, when they evaluate all of their creative projects as options, they can’t help but feel the love they have for all these ideas.
That’s where the INFP writer gets caught in the trap that gets them every time.
The key to avoiding this trap is for the INFP writer to pull back from the emotion. It’s not about whether or not we still love the idea or the project. Because if it had deep meaning for us at one time, we will always feel that love when we come back to it and think about giving it life. However, the reality is that we only have so much time and bandwidth in our lives and we can’t work on everything at once. We have to choose, and we need to be realistic about our projects and compassionate toward ourselves when we make those choices.
So, if we’re not focusing on using emotion to make the choice, what do we do?
We focus on the energy.
INFPs have two big superpowers: emotion and intuition. When emotion becomes a tool that is more burdensome than helpful, we turn to intuition. So, instead of feeling how much love we have for the entire collection of our creative ideas, we pull back and feel into the energy of each one of them. We ask questions like:
Does this idea feel ripe right now?
Does the energy of this idea feel crackling and alive? Or more like it’s already on life support?
Do I feel pulled in by this idea? Or does the energy around it feel more like an obligation?
So, we’re still feeling our way through this choice process with our writing projects, but instead of using emotion as the pathfinder, we’re letting intuition take the lead.
An easy way to do this is to use a visualization exercise. Make a list of all your creative ideas and/or writing projects that you think you might like to work on. Then, get comfortable and take a few deep breaths and get grounded in your body. Look at each item on the list and imagine holding each one in your hand and feeling its weight. Take note of how the energy feels to you and be open to any intuitive impressions that come through. Consider this an information-gathering exercise and don’t judge anything that comes up, just observe it and move on.
When you’re done weighing each item, put the list down and go do something else. Take a walk or exercise, or go have a cup of tea and sit for a while. Let yourself let go of the decision-making process and see if anything rises to the surface within, naturally. Almost always, an INFP writer who gives this method a chance will find that an answer or a direction will make itself known within the next day or two.
You can also keep your list and return to it any time you need to choose to work on something new, or if you’ve decided to rotate between projects (something that’s also incredibly helpful for INFP writers) and you want to add another project into your current mix. The only thing you need to remember before you start is to focus on the energy, not the emotion, and you’ll get the same clarity every time.
Being an INFP writer can be tough. But once we learn how to work with our gifts by finding the right balance for us, the creative process for an INFP can be so much easier.
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer and The INFJ Revolution. 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.