If you know anything about the INFP personality type, you know that INFPs are one of the most creative types. I have a lot of INFP clients and in my experience they are very creative indeed. INFPs have these magical brains that come up with all sorts of interesting things. As creative writers, they tend to combine vivid imagery and poetic phrases with a deep insight into human nature.
However, even though the INFP personality type has this incredible talent for creativity, they are also one of the types that suffer the most from self-doubt, and who also struggle the most with shame in the creative process itself. Almost every INFP I have ever worked with has told me at one point or another that they believe they are “doing it wrong.” They almost always feel like they’re not organized enough, they jump around too much, or they can’t stick to one thing to the end. And almost every INFP believes that these are all weaknesses that they need to work on in order to become better writers.
This is simply not true. What actually happens is that INFP writers are very intuitive, and so they tend to work in a circular pattern. This is because their thought flow is web based and NOT linear. This means that when they generate ideas and then work with them in their minds, they put them all together in a big network, like a spider’s web, where every point is connected to every other point in a grand design.
This makes perfect sense to an INFP writer in his own mind, but it’s really, really hard to explain to other people. As such, most INFPs only experience constant frustration when trying to communicate their work style and creative process to others. Added to this is the fact that we live in a society where our schools, our workplaces, our government and most of our social activities are all organized in a linear fashion – in other words, in a straight line. INFPS does not work well with straight lines. So not only do they not fit into the existing paradigm, but they also fail to communicate what does actually work for them.
This is where creative shame comes in.
As INFP writers experience this situation over and over again—where they don’t fit in and at the same time find it impossible to express how they work to others—they end up internalizing a deep sense of shame about how different they are. I’ve worked with many INFPs who have told me that they’ve gone through training or various jobs, pretending to do things the “normal way”, but then actually doing things their normal INFP way behind the scenes and never letting anyone the wiser.
When you have to pretend to be someone you’re not, sometimes for years, it takes a toll on your soul. It makes you feel less than, almost all the time. It also makes you second guess what comes naturally to you. So when an INFP writer finally starts writing their novel, instead of experimenting in ways that feel right to them (and INFPs love to experiment), they’ll likely read a bunch of different writing guides and try to follow a linear way of doing things. that will never work for them. And if they hit a big, thick brick wall with it, they won’t take it as feedback that the method isn’t right for them. Instead, that old “I’m weird, too different, and not good enough” shame will kick in, and they’ll think there’s something wrong with them as a writer.
The best way for an INFP to get past this is to learn more about their intuitive nature and embrace it. INFPs are incredibly inspired by beauty as well as pathos, and these two elements can be used for creative activation whenever an INFP writer needs it. Instead of learning more about writing rules and reading more writing guides, an INFP writer would be better off looking to art, music, and nature.
INFP writers also benefit greatly from giving themselves permission to express themselves freely on the page. Authenticity is a deeply held, non-negotiable personal value for the INFP personality type, and they need to fulfill this need to be authentic as much as possible. INFP writers can find it very helpful to write as if no one is watching. That is, create a secure space for their entries—like a private journal or even a locked box—where they can be sure no one will see their entries before they’re ready to share them.
Above all, the most healing balm for an INFP writer’s soul is the practice of self-acceptance. This will lead them to find someone who accepts them for who they really are, who truly appreciates the wild and magical INFP mind, and who wouldn’t have it any other way.
INFP writers, you are awesome. Be yourself and the rest will fall into place.
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.