One of my students asked me the other day about the positives of being an INFJ writer. The question made me stop and think because I realized that, although we talk a lot about the struggles of being an INFJ writer, rarely do we pause to appreciate the gifts. And there are plenty of gifts, that’s for certain. So today I’m taking a little time to remind all the INFJ writers out there (as well as myself) why it’s great to be an INFJ writer.
Hidden Benefit #1: We Write Fantastic Character-Driven Fiction
Even though most INFJ writers worry that their plot never includes enough action, there is really no need to worry at all, because INFJs are known for producing incredibly complex characters that seem to leap off the page. Our stories tend to be psychological, cerebral, and sometimes spiritual, but never dull or uninspired.
A novel or short story from an INFJ writer is sure to include a protagonist who has a rich, inner life and much of the story arc will revolve around this character’s personal growth and evolution. Even if the INFJ writer is concerned that “nothing is happening” in the story, it’s usually the exact opposite. A ton of stuff is happening—inside the protagonist. Virginia Woolf’s novels are a wonderful example of this kind of story, where the “action” takes place almost exclusively in the hearts and minds of the characters.
Hidden Benefit #2: We Stick with It
“Determined” is one way to describe INFJ writers. “Single-minded,” “fanatically passionate,” and “laser-focused,” are a few others. When an INFJ writer decides they want to see something through to the end, they will see that thing through to the end, sometimes at the cost of their own sanity or health. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances, but if the INFJ writer in question is in balance, then this steadfast determination against-all-odds is always a great gift.
It’s this stick-to-itiveness that gets INFJ writers through when they embark on the massive undertaking of writing a long, complex novel. It’s also the trait that comes into play when they’re figuring out the publishing process and refuse to give up on getting their book out into the world. When an INFJ believes in something with their whole heart, you better just stand back and get out of the way, because nothing will stop them from going after it.
Hidden Benefit #3: Archetypes, Symbolism, and Deeper Meaning Are Easy for Us
An INFJ writer never has to be concerned that their story will turn out to be too shallow. We’re able to discern the deeper meaning behind everything and write in such a way that the symbols which represent that meaning are very clear. The world of archetypes and archetypal themes is a place that feels like home to us, because this is how we naturally interpret what we see around us and make sense of it. When an INFJ writer is able to let themselves flow freely in their writing practice, they’ll notice that eerily accurate symbols will appear in their stories, without even trying.
This is especially important for INFJ writers to remember about their writing, because our flair for symbolism and deeper meaning is not always appreciated by people in our everyday lives. In fact, much of the time, we’ll get a puzzled stare or blank look from our friends and family when we try to share our insights about the patterns and themes we see in the psychology of those around us. If we’re not careful to remind ourselves that this talent of ours does serve a purpose in our writing process, it’s easy to feel like we’re just being the weirdo in the room, yet again,
Hidden Benefit #4: We Naturally Love to Write
Writing is a slog for a lot of people. They like having a finished product, but they don’t like the writing process itself. INFJ writers are lucky in this way because, most of the time, we actually like the act of writing. Even if we’re working on a story and finding it difficult to piece together all the layers, we’ll most likely still enjoy our journaling practice, or playing around with poetry. We might have a ton of self-doubt about what we’ve written and serious reservations about showing it to others, but if we feel like we can keep it private and we don’t have to worry about judgment, then we love sitting down and being alone with ourselves and the page.
This is also a great benefit because INFJ writers are really good at figuring out their own psychology through writing. We have zero reluctance about honestly writing down our feelings, how we think we could improve, how we imagine other people might have seen a certain situation, and any alternate perspectives we can come up with to add to our thorough understanding of the topic at hand. So, even though we might not share our feelings with many people, if we have a regular writing practice, chances are good that we are emotionally healthy human beings.
Hidden Benefit #5: We Are also Naturally Self-Directed
Writing is a practice that takes an immense amount of self-direction. It’s not like a job where you get a job description, a list of tasks, and a manager who checks in with you regularly to make sure you are right where you need to be. With writing, no one checks in on you, and it can be quite lonely. You are the only one who really cares if you become a successful writer or not, so you are also the only one who is in charge of making sure you devote time and energy to your writing.
Fortunately for INFJ writers, we have no problem organizing our time, assigning different tasks to different parts of ourselves, and constantly learning new things to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know. In regular jobs, we tend to feel stifled by authority figures and too many rules, but in as writers this nonconformist attitude is just the thing we need to forge our own creative path.
For many INFJ writers, being an INFJ—and being a writer—can feel difficult and confusing. But we should never forget the bundle of gifts that also comes with being both of these things. The gifts are always there, sometimes we just have to remind ourselves to see them.