While we regain our energy by spending time alone in our complex internal world, we also care about people and value deep, authentic connections with others. We’re highly perceptive, aware and intuitive about people and we want to help others understand themselves and live up to their full potential. INFJs are complex, deep thinkers with a keen insight into how people think and feel, so we’re not afraid of dealing with people’s complex personal problems.
This combination of understanding, sensitivity, and empathy creates a desire in INFJs to express our thoughts and feelings about the world around us and the people in it, with the ultimate goal of helping other people. We want to shed light on difficult situations and convoluted feelings and help people make sense of their lives and themselves.
Why INFJs Like to Write
INFJs are often natural writers. We not only have the empathy to understand others but as Introverts, we enjoy working alone. For many people, the solitude necessary for writing is the hardest part, but for INFJs, it often feels like a sanctuary. It gives us the time and space we need to stop and think, reflect on our ideas and express ourselves.
As sensitive individuals, we are always absorbing information around us, including sights, sounds, smells, temperature, light, and other people’s feelings. We are constantly processing this information and trying to make sense of it. Because we absorb so much, we need an outlet for all this energy. This is what gives us a creative drive. Without attending to our need for creative expression, however, we can quickly become ill or experience physical systems of being “blocked,” including skin problems, headaches, digestive ailments, and sleep disorders.
In her book, The INFJ Writer, Lauren Sapala suggests that many INFJs have the same traits as gifted people, according to the criteria developed by Kaimierz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist, and psychologist. Dabrowski was best known for his theory of positive disintegration, which proposes that advancing into higher levels of personal development requires having certain developmental potential. He suggested that most people stay at a basic level of development and only a few will grow beyond this.
These select individuals, otherwise known today as highly sensitive people, have a highly sensitive nervous system, leading to a more intense experience of daily life. According to Dabrowski’s theory, there are five categories of sensitivity, which he referred to as “excitabilities,” including psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginative and emotional, all of which are used to describe “gifted” people. According to Sapala, many INFJ writers have some or all of these qualities as well. Our tendency to be both highly sensitive and possessing these gifted traits means we have the potential for great creative work.
Why Writing Can Be Hard for INFJs
Being an INFJ means we’re endowed with a lot of special gifts, such as empathy, insight, sensitivity and creativity. But it’s not always an easy path to follow, especially when most of the population do not possess these traits and don’t understand them. Dabrowski himself called excitability or sensitivity "a tragic gift" to reflect that while there is potential to experience great highs, there is also the potential to experience great lows.
Similarly, great creativity also tends to create the potential for a great deal of personal conflict and stress. People with a highly sensitive nervous system are also prone to depression and anxiety, which can make any creative work feel impossible. INFJs can also find it hard to write because we tend to be:
We have a vision in our minds of how things should be and trying to create that perfect vision on paper can stop us in our tracks. We tend to have very high standards for ourselves and our work, which can make it difficult to silence our inner critic.
INFJs have a rich inner life. We enjoy spending time alone and thinking about our ideas, but it can lead us to work long hours, isolating ourselves from friends and family and becoming burned out.
Feeling different from everyone around us can make INFJs self-critical and feeling bad about ourselves. It’s all too easy to think, “who am I to be a writer?”
Thinking of possibilities.
With intelligence and an active imagination, INFJs can see the potential and possibilities in almost everything, but that often means we don’t know which one is best and we can get stuck trying to find the right route or even the right word.
Fear of criticism.
INFJs tend to be sensitive to criticism, so we’re often afraid to show our work to anyone who might offer us valuable feedback for fear of being negatively judged.