Dear INFP Writer, It's Okay to Have Too Many Ideas

Friday, April 24, 2020
In the function stack of INFPs, extroverted intuition is the second in command. It is your inspiration and idea machine. Extroverted intuition (Ne) enjoys combining ideas and feeling inspired. It's all about being curious, finding new ideas from the external world, and connecting those ideas together in unique ways. Since this is one of my strengths, I do all I can to make sure that it's part of my writing process.

Introverted feeling and extroverted intuition are often partnered together in the thinking process of an INFP. When introverted feeling sees an idea and is like, "That's a concept that is meaningful to me. I want to dig deeper into it," it's extroverted intuition that's like, "Okay, here are all the ideas and possibilities related to that one idea."

It's like typing a single term into an Internet search engine and getting pages of results, some more related to the original idea than others. And just like how it's easy to fall into the dark abyss of browsing the Internet for hours, the same is true when extroverted intuition keeps serving up one idea after another.

As an INFP writer, it's not unusual to get lost in the tangle of ideas provided by extroverted intuition. That tangle of ideas can make plotting stories or creating outlines challenging.

Extroverted intuition can also be a distraction. Testing out writing apps, playing with random name generators, and continuously collecting Pinterest pins that remind me of my story can be a total rush for extroverted intuition. However, it's not helping me make tangible progress on my projects.

Despite all that, extroverted intuition is your messy, crazy, and unpredictable best friend. It's the function that makes ideas grow. It's what turns that one sentence idea into 500 pages and counting. The goal isn't to completely subdue extroverted intuition. It works better when it's given room to run with a little direction.




That direction is often given by introverted feeling. Remember, introverted feeling carries the sense of what is valuable and essential to you. It can help you know where to go despite the impulses of extroverted intuition.

(For more about introverted feeling, check out 10 Tips for Working with Your Strengths as an INFP Writer and Life as an Introverted Feeling User

Here is some other advice for doing the dance with extroverted intuition as a writer.
Keep an inspiration notebook. Buy some inexpensive notebooks. Download a fast note-taking app. Bring together your ideas and fascinations. That not only includes words but pictures and sketches as well. Build a collection of notes or notebooks that spark your imagination.
It's okay to have multiple notebooks. I used to fear that having many inspiration notebooks would be confusing. Yet, they all contain the same information: moments of inspiration, ideas, and things I love. Inspiration doesn't need the presence of order. It needs the encouragement of discovery. Looking through notebooks and finding something unexpected I wrote months ago is that.
Don't be afraid of having research notes everywhere for a project. Just do the best you can to collect them in a common place. Have a folder for digital notes and a folder for physical notes. Then when you're ready to start your draft, see if you can bring them all together.
If you want to go digital-only, scan your paper notes and put them in the digital folder you have. If you want your research and plans to be on paper, print out parts of your research, and then bring it all together using a binder, discbound notebook, or even binder rings. If you go the paper route, don't forget that you can cut and paste things and use different color paper, markers, and tape, bringing visual flair to your notes.
Forget writing about what you know. Write about what fascinates you and makes you curious. Constantly engage with what inspires you, and what you want to learn more about.

Go out and explore. Explore new books, movies, games, music, people, and places, even if they are different from what you are normally attracted to. Explore the area where you live, visiting places you haven't been before.

Get inspiration from media. Pay attention to what places, people, things, and ideas from movies, video games, fiction, and other types of entertainment appeal to you. Make notes of them in your inspiration notebook.

Be inspired by the details. Sometimes in moves and books, a minor side character may appear that we feel an attachment to. Or some aspect of the world may be mentioned that's a small thing, but we find that detail interesting. If you see anything like that, jot it down. It may be a useful element in a future story.

Get inspiration from everyday life. Pay attention to real-life people, places, things, and concepts that you find interesting. If you find it difficult to connect with your daily life (I believe many INFPs struggle with this), try noting in your inspiration notebook what everyday objects you appreciate. Do you appreciate your socks? Your toothbrush? Your daily coffee cup? The tree in your backyard? After listing a few of these things, create an essay, short story, poem, or song about one of them. You can branch out and do the same thing with people and places you encounter that you appreciate.

Mix and match what inspires you. If you like the personality of one character and the profession of another, what would happen if you combined them to make one character? The same can be done with settings, plot lines, themes...whatever you wish. Pay attention to what fascinates you.

When capturing ideas, don't get too obsessed with organizing them. It's the disorder that allows you to combine your ideas in unique ways. Capture now. Organize the notes later when you need them for a specific project.

Collect online information that you find interesting with a web clipper. I have found this to be a great way to have the information I need at my fingertips when working on non-fiction and fiction. Apps to try with web clipping functions: Evernote, Onenote, Google Keep, Trello, and my favorite, Workflowy.

If you're overwhelmed with ideas, bring introverted feeling into the mix. As you work on your project, keep in mind, "What does the act of writing do for me? What makes this specific project personally meaningful?" Make sure your ideas align with your values. If it doesn't, let the idea go.

Extroverted intuition is all about growth, both creative and personal. It's a powerful force in helping you grow as an INFP writer. Pick one thing from this list to try this week and see how it impacts your writing process.


Helpful Links

Workflowy clipper for Chrome/Brave
Evernote clipper
Google Keep clipper Chrome/Brave
One note clipper
Trello clipper Chrome/Brave
Writing without Rules by Jeff Somers

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