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Why Dominant Introverted Intuition Makes INFJ Authors Perfectionists

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Perfectionism is one of the main challenges that INFJ writers face every day. Perfectionism often prevents writers from completing projects because they spend countless hours trying to make everything perfect and never move forward. It also discourages writers from getting started because the moment they write their first sentence and see how wrong it is, they feel overwhelmed and lose all hope of continuing.

Perfectionism is especially common among INFJ writers, and it extends beyond their writing lives. Most INFJ personality types experience the paralyzing effects of perfectionism in their daily lives, whether it’s in their work, their relationships, or with other personal issues. This is also why many INFJ personality types strive for personal growth and improvement. We always strive to make ourselves better because we see very clearly what exactly we lack.

Why is perfectionism so strong and all-consuming for INFJ personality types, and INFJ writers in particular?

The answer is our dominant introverted intuition.

Each personality type in the MBTI system includes a “function stack” consisting of four conscious functions at the top and four unconscious functions at the bottom. Your core function (also known as your “dominant” function) is the function you have the most natural talent for, therefore it’s your strongest, and because, unsurprisingly, it’s the one you tend to use the most. For INFJ writers, this function is introverted intuition.

Introverted intuition compares all experience to internal ideal possibilities. This means that INFJ personality types go through life having experiences and then compare those experiences to what they imagine is ideal for that experience in their own mind. They base these ideals on the patterns they have observed in the world and the creative ideas they have created to improve those patterns.

For example, INFJs in the workplace often come up with new and innovative ideas about how systems can be changed to become more efficient, responsive, and more engaging for everyone involved. By working with the existing system, they see the flaws and how those flaws affect people. This is one of our great gifts. We can usually see immediately and very clearly what is there no work with anything involving relationships and people. As soon as we see what isn’t working, our brain starts creating new possibilities for what to do would work when changes were made.

As writers, we do the same thing, which is why writing a sloppy first draft can be so challenging for INFJ writers. It’s impossible to write a sloppy first draft without it being messy, clumsy, flawed, and fragmented. That’s what sloppy first drafts are, and that’s what they need to be in order to have the energy space they need to expand, play, and turn into something more tangible. But what happens is that the INFJ writer sees the messiness and flaws when they’re writing their first sentences, and then freaks out and tries to go into improvement mode and make things better.

While this may work well when we’re dealing with relationships and systems that are already in place and only need major overhauls or major tweaks and tweaks, it doesn’t work at all with something that just getting in shape. When we try to perfect something that is just taking shape, we instantly shrink the energy space it has to work with, because any kind of refinement, sculpting, or polishing comes with harshness. The more “perfect” you make the shape, the stiffer it is. this the line must be accurate this measurement and so on. That kind of energy kills creativity because it’s like throwing a blanket over a fire. It suffocates him.

This is what really happens when INFJ writers worry about the flaws in their first draft and start trying to edit as they write to make it “perfect.” They stifle their own creativity.

This can be overcome if the INFJ writer understands what is going on and makes a conscious effort to embrace the necessary messiness of the first draft stage. However, they will also have to give up something else if they really want to move forward, and that is their own expectations.

Because the dominant introverted intuition always presents the INFJ with ideal possibilities of how things “could be,” and because this is the INFJ’s strongest function and the one they feel most at home with, we tend to become very attached to these ideal possibilities. So attached, in fact, that we really don’t want to let them go and will cling to them even when they’re actually unrealistic or not in our best interest. This is what happens to many INFJs when they go through a constant cycle of frustration with other people and the world around them. It is very difficult for us to let go of an ideal that we uphold in our minds, and as long as we cling to that ideal, despite all evidence to the contrary, we will fail reality again and again.

The most useful strategy an INFJ writer can adopt is a willingness to embrace the chaos of the first draft without trying to change it at the moment, while at the same time abandoning any expectation that history will match what we see in our minds. It won’t. This is already a given. Because that’s not how real stories work. Real stories don’t slide out of your mind and onto the page looking sharp and vivid, and they don’t read like compelling, masterful works of art. It is an ideal that is kept in the mind. The actual stories are clumsy and cringe-worthy when they first come out, and usually read like harsh-sounding book reports or clumsy descriptions of a convoluted conversation with some vague action.

That’s what’s real. And that’s normal. Because you can work with it. The worst sloppy first draft in the world is easier to work with than the best perfect story that never made it to the page and is still lingering in the mind of the writer. For INFJ writers who are serious about pursuing writing, it’s important to know the difference.

Lauren Zapala is the author An INFJ writer, The INFJ revolutionand the creator Intuitive writing, an online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with traditional writing techniques. It was also recently released Love reflections for writers, a set of 10 meditations for just $20 that you can use for your regular writing practice. You can get a free copy of her book on creative marketing for writers by subscribing to her newsletter HERE.

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