A few years ago, I gave one of the first drafts of one of my novels to a friend who said she was interested in reading it and giving me feedback. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about getting her feedback, but I figured this was something I had to do if I wanted to grow that “thick skin” that I’d heard every writer had to have. So, against my better judgment, I gave it to her.
“I didn’t like the ending,” she said when I met with her the next time. “It felt like the main character was too dependent on the people outside of her. She should have been more independent, more feisty. I like strong female characters.”
Well, I was immediately crushed. And then instantly spiraled out. This didn’t just feel like feedback to me, it felt like stinging, crushing, excruciating criticism. The ending of my story was all wrong. The main character was all wrong. She wasn’t strong enough, she wasn’t independent enough. She just wasn’t…enough. And neither was I.
All writers have problems with writing at one time or another, but writers who are also of the INFJ personality type tend to have a very specific set of problems when it comes to writing. INFJ writers don’t always link these problems to their personality type, but each one of them is rooted in their temperament as intuitive, emotionally-centered introverts. Once the connection is made, that’s when the INFJ writer can begin to overcome them.
Here are the 3 biggest writing problems an INFJ writer struggles with:
When I first started seriously writing I also started seriously looking around for writing advice, and the most common piece of writing advice I found was, “write every day.” It didn’t matter if I didn’t feel like it, wasn’t inspired, was overwhelmed and busy with other things, I still needed to write every single day. That was what real writers did, and according to the same body of advice-givers, that was what separated the real writers from the wannabes.
One of my writer friends sent me a video yesterday that made me drop everything and think about INFJ writers, creativity, and problem-solving for the rest of the day. The video was a TEDx talk from a woman named Jane Kise who is an expert in Jungian type and works with kids who are having trouble learning math. She used real-life examples of different kinds of kids (introverted sensors, extraverted intuitives, introverted intuitives, etc.) solving math problems to show how the different types use different areas of the brain when trying to find the answer to something.
I was engrossed by the entire video, but most especially the part about introverted intuitives and how we learn and figure things out because I couldn’t help but see the connection between how an INFJ child might go about solving a math problem and how an INFJ writer might go about creating a story.
Since publishing The INFJ Writer over two years ago I’ve talked to hundreds of INFJ writers and the number one complaint I always hear is that they feel creatively blocked in some way. These INFJs have big goals, and even bigger dreams, but they can’t seem to get started.
INFJs are hit harder by writer’s block, that’s the truth of it. They don’t just feel stifled in their creative efforts, they feel like they’re trapped in despair. They know they have a book inside them waiting to come out—they can usually even see the outline of the story or the main character already—but when they sit down in front of the page nothing happens. Then the voice of the inner critic shows up and starts picking them apart. When it’s all said and done, the INFJ ends up feeling frustrated in the present, and terrified of the future. What if they never write their book and it dies a quiet death inside them?