The INFP writers I work with report one big problem to me: they can’t stick with one creative project. INFP writers will frequently get a really great idea, start the story, and then a week or two later they find that they’ve lost interest. Then they try to double down on their efforts to stick with it and force themselves through it. But it doesn’t work. They not only end up feeling like they killed off what little interest in the story they still had, but they also feel guilty and ashamed because they “failed” again.
They couldn’t stick with a project to the very end.
However, what most INFP writers don’t know is that it’s not a lack of willpower that’s the problem. The real problem is resulting from the fact that they’re trying to get themselves to work in a way that isn’t natural or right for them. They’re trying to force themselves to follow the mainstream methods for learning and creating that they’ve always been taught to follow. But what no one ever told them is that those mainstream methods absolutely do not work for INFP personality types.
Birthdays can be hard for many people, but they’re usually hardest on writers. Why? Because a birthday is a personal milestone that indicates another year has passed in your life—you’re one year closer to leaving this earth—and you still haven’t accomplished your writing dreams.
Maybe your writing dream is to finish your novel, or to write a self-help book based on your own life experiences that you know could really help people. Maybe you just want to finish a story—any story—because even though you’ve had a million ideas, you’ve never finished anything. So, when the day of your birthday rolls around, yet again, it only causes you pain, because it highlights just exactly how far away you still are from ever achieving these dreams.
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It seems like it would be easy to know if you’re an unhappy writer, right? But it’s a little trickier than just asking yourself how you feel. A lot of writers who are deeply unhappy with themselves, their writing, and their writing lives overall, actually don’t even know how unhappy they are. They’ve been unhappy for so long that it just kind of feels normal to them now.
This was me for a long time.
For many years I didn’t write at all. I was definitely unhappy, but I didn’t actually know how unhappy I truly was, because I had never known anything different. Sure, a long time ago, when I was a kid, writing had felt fun to me. But by the time I hit my late teenage years it had become hard and painful. Every time it felt like an uphill battle.
Comparison syndrome is an issue that hits writers harder than most, and it sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting it. It’s that feeling of discovering something about another author that instantly makes you envious, while at the same time sending you into a shame spiral.
Maybe the other author is younger than you, and has had more success. Maybe they just published their fifth book in a series, while you’re still struggling to get even halfway through the first draft of your first novel. It might be as simple as seeing how many followers they have on social media, while you don’t yet have a working website. Whatever kind of success they’re having, you see it, and it makes you feel awful. It makes you feel small, and insignificant, and kind of stupid.
That’s comparison syndrome, and if you are a writer who suffers from toxic procrastination and/or crippling perfectionism, then you most likely feel it on a regular basis.