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After years of coaching writers who struggled with procrastination issues, high sensitivity to criticism, and crippling self doubt, Lauren Sapala realized that almost every one of her clients was an INFJ or INFP. Using the insights gleaned from these clients, as well as her own personal story, Sapala shows us how the experience of the intuitive writer can be radically different from the norm.
INFJ writers don’t think like anyone else, and their highly creative brains take a toll on them that they rarely share with the outside world. The INFJ Writer discusses such topics as:
How an INFJ writer’s physical health is tied to their creative output
Why INFJ writers are more likely to fall prey to addictions
When an INFJ writer should use their natural psychic ability to do their best creative work
Whether looking to start writing again or to finish the novel/memoir they started so long ago, any writer with the self-awareness to identify themselves as highly sensitive and intuitive will benefit from this book that helps them to find their own magic, and to finally use it to build the creative life that actually works for them.
I’ve always had an interest in psychology and especially in the personality profiles outlined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). As a child and teenager I had always felt quite different and isolated, but since discovering I was an INFJ back in high school, something ‘clicked’ for me and a lot of my thoughts, habits and preferences started to make sense. I began to connect with my fellow INFJs and other introverts online and finally discovered my ‘tribe’, which allowed me to gain so much insight into my personality and that of others.
When I saw an advert for Lauren Sapala’s book, The INFJ Writer, on her blog, I was instantly intrigued. I’ve always loved creative writing, but I struggle with a lot of self-doubt, procrastination and episodes of feeling emotionally blocked. I had never really considered at looking at these issues from an MBTI perspective, but I wondered whether some of my problems were linked to my personality type.
The first thing you should know about this book is that it is not a writing guide. It offers very little in the way of practical advice about style or technique, which was a little disappointing. It is much more of a self-help book, specifically aimed at INFJs and other introverted intuitives who are lacking confidence or struggling with a writing slump. The INFJ Writer is like an extended pep talk that seeks to explain why you may be stuck in a rut and suggest ways that you can move forward with positivity.
Most of the topics discussed really resonated me. For example, Sapala explains how introverted intuitives can suffer mentally and even become physically ill from the effects of not having a creative outlet to express themselves. This is certainly true for me. If I don’t make time for writing, reading, blogging, art or other creative hobbies, I begin to feel less like myself and more and more stressed and unfulfilled. It can be difficult for INFJs to get back on track after a break or even to start a project at all, as they often have low self-esteem, high expectations of themselves and a fear of failure. Sapala suggests several exercises to help boost confidence and tackle any negative self-talk going on. These techniques would be useful for general mental wellbeing too, not just for issues regarding writing.
The INFJ Writer also explores Sapala’s own history with alcoholism and how this relates to her writing. It may seem irrelevant, but actually many introverted intuitives have an addictive personality and even if they do not indulge in drink or drugs they might have a reliance or attachment to caffeine, food, sex, gambling, and so on. My own weaknesses are sweet foods and shopping, which I definitely use to self-medicate when I am feeling low. Sapala explains why this happens, how we can free ourselves from this to focus on our art and how reconnecting with our creative interests can help break these unhealthy habits. I found this discussion interesting, but I thought that Sapala spent a little too long on this topic and it might not be helpful for all readers.
This book isn’t a quick fix that will suddenly cure all your mental health issues and get you writing straight away. It’s more of an explanation of the psychology behind the avoidance behaviours and low confidence issues that an INFJ might have. It’s a starting point for addressing these issues and contains some exercises to get you thinking about what is standing in your way. The onus is still on you to go out and make the necessary changes to your attitude and lifestyle.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and got a lot of positive information from it. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone with my insecurities and that it doesn’t mean I’m weak or failing. Certain aspects of my personality, like my perfectionism, make me more susceptible to worrying and self-doubt, and that’s okay. The same traits can also be applied in a positive way to improve my writing. I would recommend this book to any INFJ (or INFP, ENFP or ENFJ) who wants some inspiration and motivation to get started with a writing, creative or business project. This book may just be the boost that you need.
Before you go…
Are you interested in MBTI theory? Do you think this book would be useful for you?