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View Full Version : Inspiration for Story-writing and Cognitive Function: Ni or Ne?



Ribonuke
03-16-2012, 11:16 PM
I've recently been thinking about the MBTI cognitive functions and how they apply to day-to-day life. And I was wondering about this:

Today, I was watching a TV show about unusual deaths, and was saddened to hear of a blind, bedridden old hermit starving to death after his caretaker was killed in an accident. As I imagined the scenario in my head, I realized it could work for an interesting story idea.

Likewise, I was in a sociology class, and I learned that some people on Death Row had to wait DECADES for their sentence to be carried out. I was wondering what on earth these people were doing between then and their sentence, and I ended up--somewhat jokingly--coming up with the conclusion that the government was using them for unethical experiments (y'know, coz they it wouldn'tve mattered anyway). Whether or not this is actually true, I realized this would make an interesting idea for a story, and offered the idea as a solution in a story he's been struggling to write.

Sometimes I'll get ideas on my own; I remember a few semesters earlier, I was reading about Foucault's "Panopticon", and I ended up using aspects from that writing to design the motive and plan for a villain in a story I had been working on.

I'm pretty sure that this is an Intuitive function; it is based off of a processed, imagined 'idea' rather than a sensory fact. And often, I will also get flashes of this inspiration in my thought processes in the shower; when I am not distracted by having to think, my mind will be wandering and make some sort of realization about something I'm thinking about, and I'll all of a sudden go "Hey...that'd make an interesting song/story/project!" The same thing will happen to me when I'm about to fall asleep, and my mind is wandering, and sometimes I'll like an idea that I come up with so much that I'll actually get up and write it down before being able to go back asleep (coz I don't want to forget the idea!)

Now...I don't know whether it's Extraverted or Intraverted, however; I seem to get inspiration from both my exterior AND my interior worlds. I suppose this would make sense, seeing as I tested RIGHT on the cusp between INFJ and INFP.

What do you guys think? Ni or Ne?

Ethanescence
03-17-2012, 01:13 PM
It's definitely intuition at work. Whether it's Ni or Ne, that's harder to answer.

I have somewhat similar experiences to you (I'm INFP; Ne). I have many notebooks lying around my house, evernote notes on my phone, and several hundred linked files on my computer - all with plot ideas. However they all concern the same plot that I'm developing, rather than separate story ideas.

My ideas mostly stem from reading theoretical works and then fleshing out a "what if" scenario around that theory (although this might be because I write science fiction), or likewise "what if" questions around particular characters. "What if" questions seem to be indicative of Ne.

As a side note to inspiration, note-taking doesn't feel like it should be my natural inclination, but it's how I develop a cohesive story. Some people prefer to create plot as they write, as though the plot is internally mapped in their mind. That doesn't work with me. Even in short stories I had to write for high school that I left to the last minute (thanks procrastination) had dot-points at the end of the document full of scene/plot/character notes that I would delete when I wrote them into the story.

Ne writers seem to cope better with highly detailed plans, I find, as it is a way to capture the endless possibilities in a concrete form (J. K. Rowling, probably INTP, kept endless notes on Harry Potter -- Joss Whedon, either ENTP or ENFP, developed the plot for Buffy many seasons in advance). A perspective from someone with Ni-dom/aux could shed light on whether or not this is a Ne/Ni distinction, however.

Kurt.Is.God
03-17-2012, 03:10 PM
This is exactly how I write my stories. One thing I like to do is surf Wikipedia and string together unusual articles. I found an article about dogs trained to bark when their owners had seizures, and we had been learning about Buddhism in class earlier that week, so I wrote a Zen koan about a dog who reached enlightenment when he realized in real life you don't get food for barking when your owner gets seizures. Your writing process sounds very Ne. It's stringing together ideas and more ideas. Though I'm not sure how Ni works at coming up with story ideas. I can only guess (from Gravity's Rainbow and Lolita and other books I suspect of being written by Ni-dominant types) that they start with a dominant theme and let it seep into their work and shape it. Ne is more about premise, Ni is process, if that makes sense. I read that on Wikisocion, I think. I wish an Ni would come and speak for themselves.

Ribonuke
03-21-2012, 11:07 PM
Ohhh, okay, I think I see what you guys are saying. [/laaaaaaaaaaaate]

Yeah, I think it's definitely Ni at work, since I tend to construct very vivid mental imagery in my head without any particular reason. Like, say I see a weapon or object I've never seen before, and my imagination will suddenly get an image of a movie-like scene where a character is using that weapon in combat; some of my best characters have been born through such daydreaming!

Mia.
03-22-2012, 02:30 AM
I have somewhat similar experiences to you (I'm INFP; Ne). I have many notebooks lying around my house, evernote notes on my phone, and several hundred linked files on my computer - all with plot ideas. However they all concern the same plot that I'm developing, rather than separate story ideas.

As a side note to inspiration, note-taking doesn't feel like it should be my natural inclination, but it's how I develop a cohesive story. Some people prefer to create plot as they write, as though the plot is internally mapped in their mind. That doesn't work with me. Even in short stories I had to write for high school that I left to the last minute (thanks procrastination) had dot-points at the end of the document full of scene/plot/character notes that I would delete when I wrote them into the story.

Ne writers seem to cope better with highly detailed plans, I find, as it is a way to capture the endless possibilities in a concrete form (J. K. Rowling, probably INTP, kept endless notes on Harry Potter -- Joss Whedon, either ENTP or ENFP, developed the plot for Buffy many seasons in advance). A perspective from someone with Ni-dom/aux could shed light on whether or not this is a Ne/Ni distinction, however.

I keep a plethora of notes in different places for both fiction and non-fiction writing as well. I will get random flashes and if I don't jot them down they evaporate. I will then sew them all together at a later point.

Agreed, it would be intriguing to hear from an Ni writer as well.

SD45T-2
03-22-2012, 07:36 AM
I'd recommend watching Stop Making Sense with David Byrne's (INTP 5w4 so/sp) commentary. He explains his creative process, and it's a fantastic example of Ne. :D

Wind Up Rex
03-22-2012, 06:40 PM
I generally get a line or turn of phrase and try to capture it before I forget it, then expand from there. It's hard to know exactly how much Ill get from a seed of an idea, but I do my best to develop the idea to completion. There are also times I want to explore just one theme, like a particular interpersonal dynamic or life transition, and that becomes a framework that a piece will grow around. The most important thing for me is establishing what the heart of the piece is so everything can flow from there.