Leashing your creativity

Writing tips for the ENFP personality

ENFPs are initiators of change, keenly perceptive of possibilities. They energize and stimulate others through their contagious enthusiasm. They prefer the start-up phase of a project or relationship, and are tireless in the pursuit of new-found interests. ENFPs are able to anticipate the needs of others and to offer them needed help and appreciation. They bring zest, joy, liveliness, and fun to all aspects of their lives. They are at their best in fluid situations that allow them to express their creativity and use their charisma. They tend to idealize people, and can be disappointed when reality fails to fulfill their expectations. They are easily frustrated if a project requires a great deal of follow-up or attention to detail. — Wikipedia

That’s right — the title is not the typical unleash your creativity. Because if you have the ENFP personality type based on the Myers-Briggs assessment, your creativity has already been unleashed since the day you were born. As an ENFP, you have no trouble coming up with ideas, or seeing things that others don’t see. What you struggle with is communicating your intuitive insights in a concise and logical sequence that strikes the perfect balance between leading your audience along a train of thought and keeping them engaged. If you find yourself telling jokes and having to explain them, you’re the kind of person who could benefit from leashing your creativity.

In everything you do as an ENFP, you are purpose-driven, creative, empathetic, and passionate. When these qualities are manifested in writing, you tend to exhibit the following symptoms:

  1. Context is too broad | Purpose-driven by nature, you like to communicate every new idea in the a broader context. Because you are empathetic of other people’s lack of familiarity with your topic, you like to bridge the knowledge gap also by communicating the broader context. You figure out the broader context for your ideas by “zooming out” from your topic at hand, then zoom back in with your audience from that broader context. Sometimes, you zoom out through too many layers, lose focus on your topic, and lose the audience’s attention before you can zoom back down.
  2. Too many ideas | Being an extremely creative person, jogging down your ideas triggers an influx of new ideas that are relevant to your topic. Before you even begin, your outline may already be five pages long with quotes, theories, facts, or experiences that you want to convey. While it appears easy to list your ideas in point form, the thought of having to link all the ideas together in a coherent, orderly structure with proper grammar is so overwhelming that you step away from the process altogether.

Do not blame or label yourself as a bad writer. Instead, accept the fact that your mental agility is both valuable and inhibiting before getting into a positive attitude when learning to harness your natural talents. Remember that communicating your ideas on paper is naturally more difficult than communicating them verbally:

  1. Writing is a one way activity | In a conversation, you can constantly adjust how you present your ideas based on how well your audience receives them— whether through interpreting facial expressions, giving them the opportunity to interrupt with questions, or by asking them to solicit a response.
  2. Body language | 55% of communication occurs through body language (source). Communicating your ideas by writing is comparable to using only your ears to “see” the world.
  3. Attention deficit | If your audience is bored by what you have to say, it is much more likely that she will just stop reading than turning her back and walking away. Writing requires you to capture and hold onto your audience’s attention without the help of social norms.

Hardship creates scarcity; Scarcity creates value. When you’re able to let your imagination run wild and control it when you have to, you’d be in a position to make great contributions to the world. Here are a few tips that may help you overcome your challenges

  1. Know who you’re talking to | and gauge how deeply they already understand your topic. Zoom out enough to meet your audience where they are comfortable without dumbing your ideas down. If you find a large gap between your audience and your ideas, try writing a second piece that spans the gap.
  2. Jobs-to-be-done | When you find yourself faced with a cluster of content, categorize each element by its “job-to-be-done” from the perspective of your audience. If you try to squeeze everything into one piece, you risk losing your audience in the process. Discipline yourself to focus on three main points, and move everything into a separate piece. To resist the urge of incorporating more ideas as you go, enumerate your ideas in your title like “Three ways to…”
  3. Answer a question | Because your mind is tuned in to the connections between the facts (creativity is the ability to connecting different ideas after all), nothing to you exists in isolation. Communicating your greatest insights in a 5-minute read however forces you to isolate and prioritize — sheer agony for ENFPs. Instead of writing with the goal of communicating your wisdom about the world, look around and see if there’s a popular question that you can address. With a more concrete idea of who you’re talking to and what is important to them, it becomes much easier to bring focus and clarity into your writing.

As an ENFP, you are naturally gifted to see beyond the obvious. Depending on how you channel your creative energy, you may be seen as either a visionary leader or an unrealistic idealist. A visionary leader has the ability to package ideas in a way that others can understand; an unrealistic idealist has ideas that could change everything but he’s the only one who knows about it. With the ENFP personality type constituting 6-8% of the world’s population, there are plenty of places like LinkedIn where you can share advice with others like you. But keep in mind — regardless of how much advice you seek out, you won’t get better unless you…