One of the most shame-inducing things about writing for INFJ and INFP writers is how they actually feel when they sit down to write. An INFJ or INFP writer might dream about writing when they’re not writing. They might feel resentful that work, family, kids, and the stresses of daily life all take away from the time they could be spending writing. They might even fantasize about going off to live in a little cabin in the woods, so they can spend all their time writing. But then, when they finally get that precious hour on a Sunday afternoon to sit down to write, they sit down and all they feel is…UGH.
This feeling of UGH manifests in many ways. For some writers, it’s a feeling of frozen numbness. They literally can’t get the words out. For other writers it feels like panic, even terror, and they have no idea why they’re having such an extreme reaction. And for others, the negative self-talk starts up in their brain, maybe only in whispers at first, but it’s sure to grow louder.
So, the writer does what we all do when we’re forced into a situation that’s full of nothing but misery and pain. They flee the scene. Maybe they suddenly remember an errand that must be completed right this minute, or their kid “coincidentally” interrupts them and needs something urgent-not-urgent. Whatever the seemingly logical reason is for bringing the disastrous writing session to a close, the writer jumps on it, feeling guilty and ashamed, but then promises themselves that next week for sure they will sit down to write, no more excuses, and they will definitely get it done.
Why do writers go through this painful cycle with writing? And why is it so hard in particular for INFJ and INFP writers? Is there something about being introverted and intuitive that brings the shame spiral on us so much harder?
For INFJ and INFP writers, fear around writing is not just a surface-level problem. The fear is linked to past trauma, specifically criticism, rejection and/or abuse we suffered in the past at the hands of parents, peers, toxic partners, and damaging critique groups. We still carry this trauma within us, in the form of frozen blocks of energy, and every time we sit down to do the thing we love most in the world—write—that thing triggers the alarm system in our brain. Suddenly, we don’t feel safe. Our fight-or-flight response is activated. And then on top of that, our inner critic chimes in and we start hearing messages of negative self-talk on a never-ending loop.
This results in a constant PUSH-PULL feeling for INFJ and INFP writers around their writing practice. We crave the act of writing, because it brings us healing through intimacy and vulnerability. But we are, at the same time, terrified of the act of writing because it brings us fear of intimacy and vulnerability. These equally powerful, but opposing, forces result in an all-out war between our conscious wants and our subconscious needs. We WANT to write. We NEED to feel safe.
And for a lot of INFJ and INFP writers, the mind doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of the fact that the two could ever happen at the same time.
I talk more about this in-depth in the second video of my series about the new live class I’m teaching this August called, YOU Are a Writer: Getting Past the Fear and Finally Moving Forward. This second video is called “Why INFJ and INFP Writers Feel So Much Fear When They Sit Down to Write,” and you can find it here:
I’m opening registration for the course in just a few days, so if you’re interested in joining us make sure you sign up for my mailing list HERE to get all the updates. And if you have any questions about it in the meantime, feel free to contact me HERE so we can get those questions answered.
I’ve had a huge response from people about the course, so I’m super excited to get started with it and see what unfolds. I think a lot of people are going to be making some pretty big breakthroughs with their writing and with the overall happiness level of their lives. I hope you’ll decide to be one of them!
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.