The Pros and Cons of Being an INTJ Writer

I’ve been getting requests for a post specifically on INTJ writers for a while now. The only problem was that I didn’t feel at all qualified to speak on behalf of all the INTJ writers out there (as I’m such a solid feeling type myself). So I recruited my writer friend Phillip McCollum, who is an awesome blogger as well as an INTJ, to help me out on this one.

So today’s guest post comes to you from Phillip McCollum, and if you’d like to check out more of his writing please visit his blog at

You’re a rare breed.

Really rare.

Like, 2% of the general population, rare.

If you value individuality like I think you do, congratulations! You’re pretty unique. And the fact that you’re a writer makes you even more special.

But being so different comes with a price. Just like a frustrated Shaquille O’Neal shopping for shoes, a lot of the writing advice out there just doesn’t seem to fit. I’m not afraid to say that we probably have to work a lot harder at our chosen craft than the general population.

Still, when it comes to writing, INTJs have many of the right tools:

We’re good at spending hours on end by ourselves. (The I)

We can easily pull back from the trenches of words and grasp what we’re trying to say as a whole. (The N)

We can logically work through many of the problems we face while writing — plot holes, character motivations, and so on. (The T)

We find it easier than most to plan a story from start to finish, once we understand some basic concepts behind effective storytelling. (The J)

But guess what? As with any sharp tool, they can also hurt us:

Because we spend so much time with, and within, ourselves, it’s easy to forget how other people communicate. This hurts our ability to better express ourselves as writers. And don’t get me started on all of the post-writing marketing work… Ugh. (The I)

Though we can see the big picture, we sometimes find it difficult to get it all down in the ‘right’ words. We often leave out those colorful details that really leave an impression with our readers. (The N)

Writing of any type needs to be emotional. It needs to tug at the soul; this is something that can be a challenge for our Vulcan-like minds. (The T)

We love our outlines, but those very outlines that can leave us in a panic the minute we start writing and the story begins to veer off in directions we hadn’t considered. (The J)

If only we could get out of our own way, we might actually accomplish something!

As many of you know, the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is simply a way to measure our preferences. It’s not a straitjacket through which we must operate. We can learn to do things differently. Every personality type has its strengths and weaknesses and our mission is simply a matter of facing who we really are and deciding to do something about it.

“In every venture the bold man comes off best.”

– Athena from Homer’s Odyssey

The Goddess understood. Fear, folks. That’s the real problem. The only way we’re going to make progress in this game is to face our fears, head-on.

My suggestion is to take advantage of your INTJ leanings and make a list. Ask yourself: What’s holding up my writing? What’s stopping me from putting my work out there? Put down your hang-ups and devise ways to tackle them. Do it now. I’ll wait. (And, please, take off your INTJ coat for a moment and stop judging your list before you’ve even started it.)

The next step is to devise a plan on how you’re going to tackle those items one by one. Don’t try to take on too much at once. Trust that if you whittle away at these fears, you’ll learn not what’s right or wrong about the writing process, but what works for you. That’s all we can ask for. No rules. No must-dos. All that matters is what gets you putting your work out there for others to find and enjoy.

Let INTJs like C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, and Isaac Asimov be your inspiration and proof that we can be good writers. You could be the next literary great. You could quit your day job. You could put your kids through college. Just get out of your own way!

Yes, you are a rare breed. But just imagine how much rarer you could be as an INTJ who faced down obstacles and earned your place at the published author’s table.

Phillip McCollum lives in Southern California, enjoys dabbling in technology, studying history, and of course, writing about whatever interesting characters pop into his mind. If he’s not figuring out how to tie in Greek mythology with the American Civil War, he’s spending quality time with his wife and son. You can follow his blog at or on Twitter: @beatbox32

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