I’m an INFJ and I’m taking your course Reach Your Goals by Blogging. The course is very helpful, but I have a question you did not answer:

How do you decide what’s off limits in terms of writing about others?  How can you be authentic if you feel like you can’t write about major events in your life, but those major events expose people whose privacy you feel you need to protect?



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2 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    This is a topic that you have to navigate case by case. Most of the time. But first, I want to say that I’m an ENTJ, and I care very little about what other people think of me. You, as an INFJ would care a lot about what is fair and if people think they were wronged by you, etc. So you will probably have a different threshold for offending people than I do — it takes a lot for me to think I did something wrong when I offend someone. I think: it is true so why are they so upset that I wrote it.

    But anyway, here’s an answer for you….

    Since I was 20 I refused to date anyone who wanted to edit what I wrote about them. It’s a very limiting requirement – lots of guys don’t want to read about themselves. But I stuck to that requirement so that I could write freely.

    With non-significant others, I approach things differently. I know which friends will let me write about them freely and which will be touchy. I don’t write about the touchy ones if I want to keep them as friends. But some friends will let me write anything (Cassie, Melissa, Ryan).

    My brothers get editorial privileges. I let them read anything before I publish it in order to get their okay. That said, it became such a pain that I pretty much stopped writing about them.

    I write about my parents and grandparents in a way that offends everyone and I have decided it doesn’t matter. My parents have learned to cope with it (lots of people in my mom’s company read the blog) and my grandparents are dead.

    So, this is all to say that I make rules for myself person by person. Then, if I have a great idea about something to write that involves, say, my brother, I tell myself to write something else because it’ll be a pain to get approval and I don’t want to offend him.

    I also found that if I let myself write anything, and just work on writing well, I can almost always change a name or circumstances enough to protect someone. or sometimes I can just cut the paragraphs with the person in question and the post is just as good wihtout those paragraphs.

    The bottom line is that people get much more upset about being in a badly written or boring blog post than they do being in a fun, scintillating blog post. So focus first on just writing well.

    I hope this helps.


  2. Cay
    Cay says:

    This question could have been written by me, (same MBTI type, took the same course). So, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time.

    I generally agree with what Penelope wrote, and am writing to add another bottom line — the actual bottom line; that is, what you plan to get out of it.

    As an INFJ, I understand wanting to protect people. This instinct can be so strong that it can stop you from doing a lot of things in a near-complete way. If you ever do address potentially sensitive topics , you likely take the most well-mannered approach, and end up describing a devastating emotional hurricane as something like raindrops keep falling on my head.

    What’s working for me is keeping my eye on the ball. I ask myself, “What am I trying to achieve with this message?” That is, am I writing about my crappy childhood for me, or am I writing about it for my audience? See, I just deleted the previous sentence twice because I worried that my mother would be offended if she read it and knew that it was me, which she most definitely won’t.

    By focusing on the goal, it eliminates a lot of sensitive topics that you weren’t going to benefit from sharing anyway. After doing that, I’d use a case-by-case approach much like Penelope’s.


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