Personality Cafe banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I'm finally in a flow state again with my creativity and learning more about who I am, and I realized something strange. I know that MBTI isn't a science, but I've found a lot of comfort in it in the past year. All my life I felt like an alien and like I'm missing some key component that most other people learn or are born with, so finding the INFJ community and learning about Fe and Ni was incredibly reassuring at a time when I needed it the most. I'm writing fiction again, working on a novel I'm really excited about, and a person I follow online who's also an INFJ posted some of her writing. I've read her work before, but this time I realized that she's also INFJ and we have completely different styles- her prose is filled with metaphors and similes while mine is mostly allegorical and charged with emotion rather than shown through those literary devices. I looked around Personality Cafe for other INFJs sharing their writing or talking about their style and it seems like most of us write like her.

My confusion is, I like things simple and to write as concisely as possible. I'm misunderstood often enough in real life and if someone reads my stories I want them to understand and get caught up in it. My writing is emotional but the feeling is an undercurrent that's communicated through what is happening in a scene and how the characters respond to it. The dialogue is loaded with things they aren't saying, and there's a general darkness and loneliness to basically every scene- even the happy ones. I hate rambling or saying anything unnecessary that couldn't just be interpreted through dialogue or action- that's why I can't get through Virginia Woolf or J.R.R. Tolkien or even Dostoevsky, I really just want to get to the point and to see how things affect the characters emotionally and how they react. I wish I could write with half as much color as this other INFJ does, but writing has been my passion my whole life, so I don't believe it's something I'll grow into unless I push myself in that direction. So my questions are these:

Are there any other INFJ writers- prose or poets or anything else- who like to keep their work simple?

Do you think I'm actually some other MBTI type? Which one do I sound like the most? I've considered that I might be an INTJ or even an ISFP, but I feel like Ni and Fe are dominant with me and how I perceive and operate in the world, and I don't relate to Ne at all.


Thank you for reading this pretty long post- I hope you're all having a great day so far!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,746 Posts
I believe this to be a side-effect of Ni’s convergent orientation. For me personally, I’d consider it less to be about simplicity and more to be about intentionality and a specific purpose. There are no irrelevant details, no descriptions that exist merely for the sake of description, no filler. Every piece drives you forward toward the inescapable ending...and once you get to the ending, you realize no other ending would be possible. Everything has built its way there.

When I read details/conversations/descriptions that seem to exist for their own sake and don’t contribute to the overall story, it makes me antsy. L.M. Montgomery’s work is a perfect example. As a child, I enjoyed reading her stories. She wrote about other imaginative kids, about people that were interested in learning, and I found value in all of this. But when she’d spend three paragraphs describing a meadow, she’d absolutely lose me. I wanted that description to have a larger meaning...like it was going to be a plot point later, or it was setting up a specific emotional tenor, or something. Once I realized it was description for the sake of description, I skimmed parts like that.

Neil Gaiman made an interesting comment in The View From the Cheap Seats that resounded with me. Here’s the section where he describes Diana Wynne Jones’ writing:
The third thing that Diana had working against her was this: her books are difficult. Which does not mean that they are not pleasurable. But she makes you work as a reader. As an adult reader coming to a Diana Wynne Jones book I expected to reread great chunks of a book as I reached the end, all puzzled and filled with brow-crinkling “How did she do that?” and “Now wait a minute, I thought . . . ,” and I would put it together, and then see what she had done. I challenged her on this, and she told me that children read more carefully than adults did, and rarely had that trouble—and indeed, when I came to read Diana’s books aloud to Maddy, my daughter, I discovered that they weren’t ever problematic or even hard. All the pieces were there for you. You just had to be paying attention to everything she wrote, and to understand that if there was a word on the paper, it was there for a reason.
He was speaking to the adult/child split in fiction, but I think it applies to Ni, as well. Children are excellent at extrapolating from incomplete information. They live in a world where they don’t understand everything, all the time, and they aren’t always given a complete explanation. Children are willing to fill in their own blanks, to make half an explanation work when that’s all they’ve got. Ni glories in that exact same process. I love putting together pieces to reach a conclusion, figuring out the answer in as few steps as possible. In writing, it can lead to spareness, to leanness, to simplicity. If I can intimate the answer with five clues, why would I offer ten?

There’s also a small element of not wanting to take the power from the reader unnecessarily. Reading is a co-creative process. The writer provides the story and some details, the reader fills in the rest. As an author I could choose to try to fill in every detail...but if it isn’t pertinent to the plot, why do I care if people are picturing the protagonist with green eyes or freckles, or their house with a red door, or some particular make and model of car? I like leaving those details for the reader to fill in. Let them make the book and characters their own.

I don’t know if any of these ideas track with your own reasons for simplicity, but I’m curious if they do:kitteh:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
705 Posts
I don't think there is an INFJ writing style, except that we have a tendency to use metaphors, analogies, and deal with abstract ideas.

I can tell you that in my earlier years I used to write fiction, but now in my 50's I find it too cumbersome. I write very short poems, because they are succinct, so I understand you in that regard. Also, I cannot stand writing long posts in the slightest. In fact, I'll break up a post into more than one post: if its too long, it usually means I'm dealing with more than one topic. My posts are extremely short and to the point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,454 Posts
Sometimes less is more. I used to have this Zen poetry book I really liked. All the poems were short and simple but they were all very elegant and profound in their simplicity. I don't think it's a good thing to have redundancy in writing or too many irrelevant details where the reader will lose the heart of what you are saying.

Beyond that, everyone has a different style and their own voice. No need to fix what isn't broken though there's no harm in developing your skills as a writer overall, if you wish. It would be terribly boring if everyone had the exact same style. So I say just be you and embrace the beauty in how you write. It's okay to admire others' and get inspired by their writing too of course. But don't devalue what you bring to the table as a writer.

I don't know enough about you to suspect you may be mistyped. So I assume you are typed correctly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
@Windblownhair - This was an awesome response! Thank you so much for explaining how Ni translates to how we interact with stories. You pinpointed some of my reasons for simplicity exactly, especially what I think is one of the major ones which is how much I want everything to be purposeful and to contribute to the story in a meaningful way. Filler and over complication drives me crazy- I just want to get to the good stuff! Haha. The excerpt from The View From the Cheap Seats was helpful, I can totally see our Ni as a child trying to make sense of what it's being told. And I do leave out physical character traits a lot! When I read it's fun to imagine characters and their environment however they show up to me and being told what the writer saw exactly takes away from that a bit.

What are your thoughts on how Fe contributes to the writing process? A few days ago I was in strong Fe mode and my story really kicked into gear, normally I can imagine only 1 or 2 characters thoughts and experience at a time and it takes a lot of focus, but that day I could see 7 characters minds at once and all they were thinking and feeling. I realized yesterday that this might be Fe at work, because that's how I function when I'm in a group situation. For a day it was like my characters were living breathing people- I wonder if I could trigger Fe to make that happen more often?

@AOD III - Thank you for your response! I've tried writing poetry and I've found the only way I can communicate my thoughts there is abstraction, which is odd because in lyric and book writing I'm otherwise very succinct. If you're open to sharing your work I would love to read it. I hope you don't mind my relatively long posts haha, I definitely appreciate your concise ones.

@Vivid Melody - That's a great way to look at it. First off, that Zen poetry book sounds amazing, I think that's something I'll have to look for at the library when I go next- I can imagine it would be good to meditate with! And second, thank you for saying this! Style is subjective and I know some people might hate it and others will want more, so it makes sense to stay true to yourself and produce the best work you can that makes you happy. It just felt a bit strange to learn that so many INFJ writers on this forum are pulled to write beautiful, abstract work- I felt like an island again for a second. Perhaps my pull to simplify also originates from being so big-picture oriented, trying to think and articulate details about environment for example definitely does not come natural for me. But I'll take your advice to embrace it and write a bit more today :) Thank you again for your reply! I hope you all are enjoying the weekend :penguin:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,957 Posts
Hey everyone,

I'm finally in a flow state again with my creativity and learning more about who I am, and I realized something strange. I know that MBTI isn't a science, but I've found a lot of comfort in it in the past year. All my life I felt like an alien and like I'm missing some key component that most other people learn or are born with, so finding the INFJ community and learning about Fe and Ni was incredibly reassuring at a time when I needed it the most. I'm writing fiction again, working on a novel I'm really excited about, and a person I follow online who's also an INFJ posted some of her writing. I've read her work before, but this time I realized that she's also INFJ and we have completely different styles- her prose is filled with metaphors and similes while mine is mostly allegorical and charged with emotion rather than shown through those literary devices. I looked around Personality Cafe for other INFJs sharing their writing or talking about their style and it seems like most of us write like her.

My confusion is, I like things simple and to write as concisely as possible. I'm misunderstood often enough in real life and if someone reads my stories I want them to understand and get caught up in it. My writing is emotional but the feeling is an undercurrent that's communicated through what is happening in a scene and how the characters respond to it. The dialogue is loaded with things they aren't saying, and there's a general darkness and loneliness to basically every scene- even the happy ones. I hate rambling or saying anything unnecessary that couldn't just be interpreted through dialogue or action- that's why I can't get through Virginia Woolf or J.R.R. Tolkien or even Dostoevsky, I really just want to get to the point and to see how things affect the characters emotionally and how they react. I wish I could write with half as much color as this other INFJ does, but writing has been my passion my whole life, so I don't believe it's something I'll grow into unless I push myself in that direction. So my questions are these:

Are there any other INFJ writers- prose or poets or anything else- who like to keep their work simple?

Do you think I'm actually some other MBTI type? Which one do I sound like the most? I've considered that I might be an INTJ or even an ISFP, but I feel like Ni and Fe are dominant with me and how I perceive and operate in the world, and I don't relate to Ne at all.


Thank you for reading this pretty long post- I hope you're all having a great day so far!
Wow! #relateablecontent (even though I'm an "unknown"). Yeah, it sucks when people just go on and on and on and on and on and bog things down with details that could be left out/interpreted in other ways. Could it be possible that this might have more to do with your enneagram type though?
 
  • Like
Reactions: saph

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Hi @Jonneh - I'm glad you can relate! I'm not sure about my enneagram but that could definitely have an influence. I spent a month of research on enneagrams earlier in the year and I'm honestly at a loss haha, all the reading I did just left me more confused. I looked at your About Me on your profile- you're a 5w4. Do you think 5's tend to read and write the way I described?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,957 Posts
Hi @Jonneh - I'm glad you can relate! I'm not sure about my enneagram but that could definitely have an influence. I spent a month of research on enneagrams earlier in the year and I'm honestly at a loss haha, all the reading I did just left me more confused. I looked at your About Me on your profile- you're a 5w4. Do you think 5's tend to read and write the way I described?
Hmm... my enneagram knowledge is a little rusty, but I think it's possible (if not probable). If you read this description (right here Type 5 Enneagram Type Description |9types.com) type 5 can come across as that sort of individual. The wing type could also play a part in it now that I think about it.... I'm not sure though. I'd have to refresh my memory on the enneagram types in order to give you a better answer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
@Jonneh - That was really interesting! I related a lot to the self preservation and relational descriptions. I guess I'll have to pull my copy of Sandra Maitri's spiritual dimension out again and have a read of the chapter on enneagram 5. Thank you for sharing that with me! And hey, it sounds like we might like each other's writing- I'd be happy to be a critique partner or beta-reader if you're looking for one. I don't actually have any completed work that's up for sharing but I would love to help you with yours. Maybe PM me if you're interested?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,957 Posts
@Jonneh - That was really interesting! I related a lot to the self preservation and relational descriptions. I guess I'll have to pull my copy of Sandra Maitri's spiritual dimension out again and have a read of the chapter on enneagram 5. Thank you for sharing that with me! And hey, it sounds like we might like each other's writing- I'd be happy to be a critique partner or beta-reader if you're looking for one. I don't actually have any completed work that's up for sharing but I would love to help you with yours. Maybe PM me if you're interested?
Ah, thank you. That would be fun. I haven't been writing in a while though because I've been on the road for the past few months. I do a lot of traveling at this point in my life. However, once I take up writing again (or get some time to do some reading) I'll send you a pm.
 
  • Like
Reactions: saph

·
Registered
Joined
·
705 Posts
@AOD III - Thank you for your response! I've tried writing poetry and I've found the only way I can communicate my thoughts there is abstraction, which is odd because in lyric and book writing I'm otherwise very succinct. If you're open to sharing your work I would love to read it. I hope you don't mind my relatively long posts haha, I definitely appreciate your concise ones.
Here is a poem I wrote about myself when I felt like a guy I had a crush on had no idea who I was at all:

THE SEA
September, 2008

You reflect upon my calm blue expanse
Stretching endlessly on beneath the warm sun.
You shudder when my torrents rise beneath the tempest.
You walk along my shore, lulled by the sound of my waves,
Content to watch my tides rise and fall and rise again,
And you think you know me.

Beneath lies a vast domain
Hidden from gaze and veiled from understanding,
A kingdom rich in vibrant color and teaming with life.
My ancient currents run deep and strong,
Impervious to wind and sun,
And the mysteries of my dark depths
Can never be fathomed by any man.


Here is an experiment simply writing in iambic pentameter on a common theme of being depressed, and then finding peace within myself:

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED - UGH!

I walk along in silence in the rain
Feeling irritation at the pain
Scratched hands and swollen ankles caught in roots
Slipp'ry mud, skinned knees above my boots

The sudden pour from branches up above
The cold, soaked clothes engenders no great love
'Bout half the time I think that I am lost
I'm fairly sure that I hate Robert Frost

I chose to walk this wooded path today
I could have walked a common city way
Its concrete sidewalks flat with people swarming
Lined with shops within which I'd be warming...

...myself should ever rain begin to fall
But I thought "Road Less Traveled" came the call
But anger tires one too much, I sigh
Who cares right now which road I traveled by

I lay my back against a leaning oak
And wait for G-d to end His little soak
Strange how mantra-like the rain can be
As it falls and drums on rock and tree


The ticklish treble trickles forming rivelettes
Could rival any philharmonic string quartet
I deeply breath the cold clean humid air
And as the rain begins to ebb I stare

A beam of sunlight wakes each crystal drop
To shining globes of light that dance and hop
Above me through the branches green and spare
A rainbow crowns the scene across the air

I still hate being wet, my leg still hurts
My irritation comes and goes in spurts
But maybe after all something there is
To Robert Frost and all that poetry biz.
 
  • Like
Reactions: saph

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,746 Posts
What are your thoughts on how Fe contributes to the writing process? A few days ago I was in strong Fe mode and my story really kicked into gear, normally I can imagine only 1 or 2 characters thoughts and experience at a time and it takes a lot of focus, but that day I could see 7 characters minds at once and all they were thinking and feeling. I realized yesterday that this might be Fe at work, because that's how I function when I'm in a group situation. For a day it was like my characters were living breathing people- I wonder if I could trigger Fe to make that happen more often?
It sounds like you’re really honing in on it. Fe helps broaden perspective. Instead of being you in their place, you’re them in their place. I like Jung’s description of Fe: “Feeling loses its personal character -- it becomes feeling per se; it almost seems as though the personality were wholly dissolved in the feeling of the moment. Now, since actual life situations constantly and successively alternate, in which the feeling-tones released are not only different but are actually mutually contrasting, the personality inevitably becomes dissipated in just so many different feelings." It identifies how the function can act in a depersonalized way.

It’s a talent that, when properly executed, is almost invisible. When a writer isn’t good at it, it’s painful. I was reading a book recently that swapped between two perspectives, and got a jolt when one of the POVs started describing something the other main POV character was doing. Their narrative voices were so incredibly similar that I had forgotten which head I was in. That’s sloppy writing.

In terms of making Fe stronger, the biggest help is simply getting out there and interacting with others. In Jung’s Psychological Types, he makes clear that the extroverted functions pull data from the outside world, “Now, when the orientation to the object and to objective facts is so predominant that the most frequent and essential decisions and actions are determined, not by subjective values but by objective relations, one speaks of an extraverted attitude.” Fe needs outside data to grow itself. While one might argue that taking in and analyzing things like books/movies/tv shows will encourage growth of Fe, you’re limiting your experience to the role of observer, and you’re limited to fictional or controlled situations. There’s no comparable substitute for genuine interaction with other human beings.

It’s a question of interaction and data gathering (Fe+Se), which gets integrated back into your understanding of human nature. After all, we are the systems builders that build people-centric systems (as opposed to NiTe). The more data you can gather, the more accurate and complex your system will become. That broadens the range of characters you’re capable of writing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,670 Posts
saph said:
Are there any other INFJ writers- prose or poets or anything else- who like to keep their work simple?
I'm more like AOD III,
I used to have a public journal starting near college and even that (prose) I found was very short. I must have been only 19 and 18 then. But I know it went on earlier than that.
My writing life technically only began last year. But I did enjoy writing in my blog or wherever I was making a place for myself on the Web.

Nowadays I like to write poetry. I love reading haiku and Imagist poetry, though some can be too long

I realize that I find it also pretty to read and look at. I know that is an important aspect in "open form"
But most of my life runs this way. I am also hsp (highly sensitive person) and I like to keep also my diet, clothing etc very easy and no fuss. With random fun thrown in now and then.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,246 Posts
I hate rambling or saying anything unnecessary that couldn't just be interpreted through dialogue or action
- @saph

We have a true writer among us. (Dramatic music)

But really, that sentence is something a lot of people (myself included) find hard to learn and implement, however it is one of the most vital principles in writing. So really, this is a very positive thing, especially since you enjoy incorporating deeper meaning within all this, keeping it from going stale.

As for people finding it hard to "get" your writing when it delves more into metaphor there are little things you can do to get readers on board. (Since I'm a sensor, I unfortunately can find it hard to follow heavy, constant metaphor so hopefully what works on me works on others, especially sensors who are more likely to be put off by your style initially.) Grain of salt, please! (And it varies depending on your subject/ genre theme and so on)

- Don't get too symbolic too soon, we need to believe ourselves capable of getting your point and if you start right away with "Life's meaning" or something we'll abandon hope.

- Mix a little sensing in now and then: even Ni doms can appreciate engaging their lower function, much as I enjoy Ne (when it doesn't cause me the occasional panic attack.) And don't doubt your ability to do so; an intuitive perspective on sensing is quite intriguing.

- You know how you want little things to have a point? Same goes for us sensors. We tend to assume most "theorizing" is silly conjecture, so prove us wrong as soon as possible! A simple reason really will suffice.

- An occasional reference to a sensory object/ experience will keep us invested in what you say.

- Never stop writing intuitive things as long as you love doing so: sensing involves a lot of comparing to things we are used to, and as contrary as it sounds, intuitive writing can become like a second nature, "sensed" experience. Really! When an intuitive writer wins me over, they've won me for life. "The Trial" and "Animal Farm" are allegorical stories I couldn't love more and I know the stories well, especially the latter. We sensors come around, just be patient!

Whether your writing style is "INFJ Style" or not, it's definitely a style well respected among those who study writing methods and I appreciate that you find it so natural to write in such a concise manner.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top