Mixing writing with editing is an easy mistake for newbie writers to make, because many mainstream writing methods actually do encourage writers to edit as they write. So, a lot of writers who haven’t yet found their own unique rhythm as an artist follow this advice. And it does work for some. I personally know writers who can’t write any other way. However, if you are an intuitive writer—if you are an INFJ or INFP personality type, highly sensitive, or an empath—the chances are high that editing as you write is going to spell disaster for you.
What does editing as you write look like? Well, it might be that you write the first chapter or two of the novel that’s been swimming around in your head for a year, and then you immediately give those first couple of chapters to your friends for feedback. Or, it might be that you’re halfway through writing your book and then you join a critique group and you give them samples and sections to critique. It could be that you write only the very first sentence of your work, and then you immediately go back and begin crossing out words and rewriting it.
Whatever it looks like for you, the idea is basically the same. You write something and then you evaluate and judge it, and usually doubt it and then change it. If you’re an intuitive writer, you almost always feel worse after the process and much less like writing anything new at all. If anything, you probably feel like you want to crawl into a deep, dark hole.
Although INFJ and INFP writers are both intuitive, and also emotionally sensitive and highly creative, they tend to approach the creative process of writing differently. Both types experience high sensitivity to any sort of criticism—whether it’s constructive or not—and both also often write slowly. Both INFJ and INFP writers also do the best if they allow themselves to use their intuition to feel their way through the story, instead of their thinking skills to rationally decide on how things should be done.
But it’s there that the similarities end. Because even though INFJ and INFP writers both experience the most healing and strength in their writing process when they give themselves permission to use their intuition to channel their creativity, there are core differences between the two types and their separate writing processes that can’t be ignored.
Every year around NaNoWriMo time, I see writers become more focused on their style of writing. Are they plotters? Or are they pantsers? The distinction between the two seems obvious. Plotters plot. And pantsers fly by the seat of their pants. In other words, they don’t plan anything. They make it up as they go along.
However, once we begin to look more deeply at what it means to be a pantser, the issue becomes a bit more complicated. Because the truth is, “making it up as you go along” doesn’t really explain what’s happening during the creative process for pantsers.
It’s shocking how many INFJ and INFP writers report the exact same problems with writing. Every time I take on a new client, I can predict with almost 100% accuracy what they’re going to tell me they’re struggling with, and how much pain they’re going through because of it. These are the top 3 statements I hear from INFJ and INFP writers:
I’m terrified to start writing.
I’m overwhelmed with ideas and unfinished projects.
I feel like an imposter, and like my writing will never be good enough.
The writers who make these statements are intelligent, self-aware people, and they know what the problem is: procrastination and perfectionism. They know that they have a habit of putting off starting the book they’ve been dreaming about for so long. They are fully aware that they have something of value to offer to the world. But this knowledge and awareness doesn’t get them anywhere. They still feel like an imposter, like they couldn’t possibly be a “real writer.” The fear keeps them frozen and undermines any forward momentum.
I’m on the Hearts Rise Up podcast today!
I had a good long talk with Carol Chapman about getting past my own addiction and creative paralysis to become a writing coach for INFJ and INFP writers. We also talked about the ways empaths and sensitive intuitives can begin to accept ourselves AND our unique gifts.
INFJs and INFPs don’t experience life the way other people do, and we don’t make art the way other people do either. That doesn’t mean we’re defective, it only means that it’s up to us to learn more about our intuition—our biggest strength—and begin to use it to write our book, launch our business, and rise up to be our best self.