Kindle Edition (157 pages)
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC (May 9, 2016)
Highly intuitive. Sensitive and empathic, typically absorbing others’ emotions like a sponge. Prone to seeing all sides of a situation. Perfectionistic. Highly Driven. Brutally self critical.
These are some of the characteristics that comprise the profile of the INFJ Myers-Briggs type. According to author and fellow writing coach Lauren Sapala, INFJs tend to be driven by a need to create, and we have unique traits — such as uncanny intuition about people and a proclivity for thinking in terms of metaphors and symbols — that tend to make us shine as writers.
But sensitivity and perfectionism often work against you, hindering you from actually writing. According to Lauren, “The INFJ type is the most likely to have difficulty getting down a single sentence.” How do you get past this obstacle and realize your potential as a writer?
For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by Myers Briggs types. I take any effort to quantify a person’s temperament with a grain of salt. However, many people find their MBTI type to be an uncanny fit, and it can be a wonderful springboard for discussion and self reflection. If nothing else, discussing INFJ traits has helped me realize I am not alone.
Created for writers of fiction and creative nonfiction, this book is part memoir, part practical writing advice, and part gentle reflection on personal growth.
Lauren shares bits of her personal journey as an author, an INFJ struggling to understand herself, and a recovering alcoholic. She offers practical strategies for working out a process for writing and editing your manuscript that fits your temperament, with plenty of meaty, thought-provoking exercises.
She also helps authors dig deeply into themselves, to create the best work possible, and illuminates the role of writing in ones journey to healing and growth.
These days many writers believe that’s all that writing really is— craft. Yes, that kind of mindset pushes writers to learn vocabulary, sentence structure, writing rules and how to break them, and the arc and flow of narrative. But it never addresses other things that are essential for a writer to learn. Like how to determine if they’re being true to themselves when they’re writing. Or how to look inside their own hearts and pull what they find there out into the light. Craft doesn’t teach writers how to endure the painful emotions that come with deep writing, how to let them flow in, let themselves experience them, and then let them flow out again.
She explores myriad other topics, including taking care of yourself emotionally when writing stirs up painful emotions; finding your life purpose, since this is particularly important to idealistic INFJs; money; career decisions; discovering your intrinsic motivation; and writers’ groups and conferences.
This is a lovely book, eloquent, honest, and thoughtful, and the author coaches readers in a gentle, compassionate way. I also enjoyed her insights into what makes great writing, her intelligence, and her passion for literature. And I love the way she seamlessly combines practical tips with the realm of ideas.
I’m not recommending this only for INFJs. It’s an enjoyable read. And if you enjoy writing, regardless of your temperament, you’re likely to glean something valuable from this book, especially if you struggle with perfectionism or procrastination, or if you want to go deeper with the characters and themes you explore in your work.
My Favorite Quote: The INFJ looks deeper and deeper; their intuitive vision becomes a tool of excavation with the goal of ruthless compassion in mind.
Have you explored your MTBI type even if it’s just through an online quiz? If so, what is it and do you think it fits you?