STELLAR MAZE DISCUSSION FORUM

Artistic expression and getting stuck

Sorry for the lame title.

So I’ve been reading through all of Blake’s stuff about the Fe-solution for INFJs, and I keep feeling like it’s really inspiring, but also that I’m hitting some kind of wall in understanding / applying it.

One of my problems at the moment is how to apply the flowing, playful free-form INFJ expression stuff with the desire to create something more, something bigger – in my case a novel, though I guess this would apply to anything longer: a symphony, painting, etc. How do you stay interested in expressing the same stuff for long enough to write a novel – and if you’re not interested, not loving it anymore, do you just let the novel go, or come back to it later? How do you sustain free-flowing Fe-expression over the course of a long work, without it collapsing into a series of random impressions? How can you Fe all over the place while still keeping enough consistency or planning to make things, you know, actually make sense – a process that for me seems to bring up the Ni-Ti loop (how does this character’s actions in ch. 3 cohere with what I said of them in ch. 8; what themes am I trying to convey and have I chosen the right means to do so; what kind of genre or conventions am I adhering to and what do I do with the parts that don’t conform) and especially the fucking Te superego (strict page counts; questions of whether I’m achieving what I set out to do; questions about whether my stuff is significant enough to be effective at . . . something, some mission I’ve set for myself) I know artistic expression is supposed to be something like salvation for us, but lately its been just another way I get stuck; it feels like without the Ti and Te stuff I’ll never produce anything weighty enough to be worthwhile.

I’ve also been kind of confused about the concept of the Fi id vs. the whole “play INFJ play” thing. So the Fi id means we have all this poisonous emotion bubbling up into the unconscious, but we’re supposed to drain it by expressing it, right? But we’re also supposed to play and have fun and learn to be light and humorous. Is the idea that our work will have this biting acidic edge to it but also be fun and lighthearted? Or more that the process of creating should be light and fun, even if the content is poisonous? I feel like every time I try to express it comes out heavy and pretentious: not poison so much as sludge. Thoughts?

Just do it!

By being genuinely interested in what you’re writing about.

Yes.

I would suggest scaling back your Te on it having to be a novel. That would be easy to block over. Why not write a short story first?

Overall, it sounds like you’re blocking over Te standards, which equals having to create an impressive and weighty work (by external standards of such).

You’re not genuinely interested yet. You haven’t found what you really want to write about.

And that’s the key to unlocking all the rest of it. There’s no point in going into all this Te stuff if you’re not into what you’re writing about.

How are you to know this?

Try writing for say, three sessions, of say, two hours a session, on whatever you think you’re gonna write about. If by the end of that time, you’re not engaged, then don’t write about that anymore.

What’s your guilty pleasure? What would you write about if you knew no one could ever see this writing but you so like to write about it? This could be a negative pleasure too, something painful and dark but that you must fiddle with.

You don’t get to choose what it is you have to say. You don’t get to choose your voice. I don’t even really think you get to choose your style.

Everything else will flow when you find your fossil. It is not so much a matter of conscious creation as a matter of discovery. What is there inside you? It’s like mining for gold. If you keep digging you might eventually hit a vein of gold. And you have to like this process.

INFJs in one way or another are digging inside themselves looking for what it is they have to say, what they want to say. This is fun for them as long as they stay true to this impulse and express what is there.

If they start trying to make the shit sound more than it is - more impressive, more weighty - they falter and hesitate and block.

Yeah, more or less, yes.

Look, you could write something really dreary like Edgar Allan Poe but as long as you’re “having fun” with the material, it’ll be good. If you genuinely enjoy being morose and morbid, then that’s fun and joyous for you. You don’t get to choose that. And many INFJs are bent to the negative side of things, yes.

In a nutshell, you have to first have an experience of writing in a way that is joyous and flowing and unblocked. And the way to do this, as far as I’m concerned, is to write about the gutter. Drop the weighty, impressive style.

Let yourself run into the toilet of your mind. Anything goes.

At least, that’s what I did to unblock myself. Once I gave myself permission to write in that guilty (pleasurable) way I found that I could talk about any subject.

Morning pages helped me do this as did starting a website called Touchmytoilet.com. Both were, in one way or another, carte blanche for me to say whatever I had to say with zero filter or need to impress anyone.

And touchmytoilet was a live website where people could actually read this shit I was putting out. I recommend doing something like this. It’s exciting when there is the prospect of people reading your detritus. Not many people read it, but they could. And that is a key too.

It unblocked me. It was anonymous too. But it felt so good to express certain things that others had the possibility of reading. It’s like having another identity.

What identity do you need to have in order to say what you have to say?

You can create this identity!

Don’t be yourself. Be the person who would say those things that you have and want to say. Kinda like becoming an actor in order to write.

Who do you want to be? You can be anyone you want. That’s the beauty of fiction.

And it’s all a fiction.

And you can tell the truth through a fiction, in case you were about to block over that.

But remember, the key is being genuinely interested in what you’re writing about. If you don’t have that, you can do all the Te-Ti-etc and it won’t make any difference.

Once you have found your personal toilet-like guilty pleasure (if it must be so), then you can set your Te minimums to show up regularly to masturbate all over yourself on a regular basis.

You think all those great novels that were written were anything more than just long extended masturbations of joyful self-reverie?

The secret of success is always joy. You gotta love what you do. If you don’t, then don’t do it. That’s my advice.

Everything else is secondary.

Personally, I don’t want to read a novel by someone who wasn’t self-pleasuring themselves.

Make sense?

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Hi Blake,

Sorry for taking a few days to reply. I read your advice and I’ve been wrestling with it for the last few days; I can tell you’re right about this, but it’s hard to put it into practice. I put all my chips in the Te superego arena many many years ago, and learning how to peel that back and be simple again, just vibe with something for its own sake, is difficult. There’s a part of me that says I shouldn’t even be existing if I’m not moving towards something important, achieving some great thing, like I’m not even a person if I don’t – even though trying for that kind of importance gums me up and makes me miserable. I feel like Caesar before the statue of Alexander, except that he was, you know, an actual aristocrat with a brilliant military and political future ahead of him and I’m . . . some dude living in the suburbs trying to write a halfway decent story or novel or poem or what-the-fuck-ever.

My wife and I had a really good conversation about this inspired by your post. You helped me realize that I’ve been looking at this Fe-expression / acceptance-of-what-you-really-are stuff as ways to “fix” what I saw as fundamentally wrong with me – “If I just learn to use Fe I’ll get all the gross stuff out and then I’ll have a beautiful placid spirit with all sorts of righteous and stable INFP sentiments.” My wife pointed out that this was just another way of trying to change myself into something I’m not, which, obvious as it is, I hadn’t noticed before.

Which leads me back to this:

"You don’t get to choose what it is you have to say. You don’t get to choose your voice. I don’t even really think you get to choose your style.

That’s been eating me up, because whenever I look at what it is I naturally say it seems so banal and repetitive. It’s also kind of highfalutin, which is weird, because I like to read all kinds of entertaining stories, but when it comes to writing the only thing that comes out is a kind of vague theology (and, occasionally, smut). Can’t tell if this is “natural” or if it’s just my experiences making my mind move in certain well-worn grooves. The style is even worse: I kind of like it at certain moments, but it’s so fragmentary; I look at people you name as INFJs and they seem able to sustain something for a long time / long work, whereas I feel like I spazz out and hop from place to place, without organization or coherence. I can’t tell if there’s more inside and I’m just unfamiliar with it, or if this is really it and I need to learn to accept what I have and not what I wish I had. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Sorry, I’m aware that this is extremely self-pitying; I’m just venting I suppose (Fe?). Your advice is extremely helpful; I need to put it into practice and actually do the dirty work of finding out what I like by doing / expressing and not by contemplating. Thank you for your many insightful comments.

You don’t need my advice. You don’t want my advice.
But I’m responding anyways.
Because I’m an asshole and don’t give a shit.

Ok, I give a few shits.

I’m sorry, did you say smut? Cause I think I heard smut.
I like smut. Smut sells. And we also need it. So, I say embrace the smut! :grin:

I also wonder if writing is perhaps not your best avenue for Fe. Maybe I’m way off track. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to write something brilliant… something more, as you say. But there is something unrealistic about wanting to write something brilliant and expect it to be your cathartic Fe release. I mean I suppose it’s not impossible. But if you’re all caught up in it, which is perfectly fine for something you care about, it can’t also be therapeutic the way Fe is capable of being for INFJs…. I think.

I don’t know. Anyways, you’re right about Blake being right, in my humble opinion. You should consider consulting with him sometime if you’re interested.

And @Nur… fucking great advice, ha! I think that sums it up really. If you can’t just do it, it’s not the right Fe release for you. Still might be uncomfortable, as an INFJ. But you gotta just fucking do it.