Fi Ne Si Te
In the function stack of the INFP, introverted feeling is at the top. It's the function INFPs are the most comfortable using. And introverted feeling, with its deep interest in the personal lives of others, is probably one of the main reasons why so many INFPs enjoy writing.
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Introverted feeling mainly involves figuring out what is meaningful and what's not. For me, writing is important, so it's something I prioritize. On the other hand, chores don't hold much meaning for me, so I try to run away from them. What's meaningful varies from INFP to INFP, so two INFPs can have very different values.
Another feature of introverted feeling is the ability to measure the distance of relationships. It helps us to feel the emotional space that's not only between us and others but also how close or far people are from each other. Personally, I'm often driven to close the gaps that I feel in my personal relationships. I try to do whatever I can to feel closer to those where the distance between us bothers me.
However, at a certain point, close is too close, and I need to create some distance. It's like there's a circle drawn around me. Sometimes people are too far away from the line, and I wish they were closer. Other times, they are too near the line, and I need them to back off a little.
Introverted feeling is concerned with internal harmony--how things feel within. It is also concerned about other people in a focused way, paying more attention to one-on-one relationships.
Introverted feeling is a great tool for writing because it helps us to be deeply intuned with the complexities of relationships, and it keeps us connected with why our writing is meaningful. If you are losing motivation for your work, or if you're dealing with flat characters, bringing introverted feeling into your process can help you get back on track.
Wondering how you can bring the benefits of introverted feeling into your writing life?
Here are 10 ways to do that.
- Keep a journal. Make your journal a place where you feel safe to express yourself. Make it a place where you feel free to write and draw whatever you want. Also, it's important to make time to re-read your journals. Sometimes the act of journaling can feel like you're scribbling a bunch of rubbish, but when reading it back you may be amazed by the insights you discover.
- Set aside a day with no plans. People who use introverted feeling must have moments of unstructured time. This month, mark a day on your calendar that has zero plans. Instead, use it for exploring, dreaming, reflecting, and creating. Take a vacation day from work if you have to. It's so worth it.
- Take a walk in someone else's shoes. This tip is inspired by the book Get Creative by Lisa Dyer. For a moment, imagine you are living the life of someone else. It can be a neighbor, someone in a totally different country, or a creature in a fantasy world. Pick whoever and whatever you wish. As you're imagining yourself embodying that being, ask yourself, "What do I look like? Where do I live? How do I communicate? Do I have a job? What is my family like? How does a typical day in my life go?" As you imagine this, take time to be aware of emotions they may feel towards their life.
- Embody your main character. If you're writing fiction, take time to imagine that you're living the life of your main character. How does it feel to be in their body? What is it like going through certain story moments? What is it like interacting with other characters through their point of view?
- Reflect on all the times when you have written in private, the times when you created a piece of work for yourself and no one else. Was it in a journal? In a barebones Word document with a carefully selected font? Were you writing outside, in a comfy chair, or in bed? Were you writing poetry between your class notes in school? Think about your most private writing moments. What did you enjoy about them? Why?
- Recreate your experience of writing privately. It's important to find the space that helps you to bring out your authentic writing, not the voice that you think you "should" use. Were you a between-biology-notes writer? Then take your writing to a coffee shop or a library and scribble in a composition notebook. Did you love writing in bed as a child? Then go and work on a piece of writing while relaxing in bed. Do your best to recreate your positive experiences of writing privately.
- Take time to imagine what a good writing session feels like. Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear? What is your body posture like? If you're having a hard time creating the picture in your mind, answer these questions by writing about them.
- Take time to reflect on why you love to write. What role has writing played in your life?
- Reconnect with why your project is meaningful. Sometimes when we start dealing with the nuts and bolts of a writing project, we forget all about why this idea captured our interest in the first place. So ask yourself, "Why is this project meaningful to me? What do I want to get out of it? What specifically is it about this project that makes me excited?
- Stay aware of the connection between your writing project and yourself. While planning a writing project, ask yourself, "How does this project relate to me? How is this project related to topics, ideas, objects, people, places or anything else that fascinates me? What do I hope to express or share?" Make sure you are writing what you are attracted to. Does your writing project touch your emotions in some way? Does it move your heart?
If you let introverted feeling be your guide, you'll abandon projects less often because each one you take on will align with your identity, giving you an extra boost of motivation.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book I Can't Help Being an INFP Writer. Subscribe to this blog to be notified of new sneak-peaks and when I finally publish the book 🎉