Intuition May Be the Key to Better Writing in Less Time

Intuition, which is also fundamental to writing fiction, is a special quality which helps you to decipher what is real without needing scientific knowledge, or any other special kind of learning.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude


Have you ever begun writing a work of fiction with a clear idea where you want to go with it, only to see it head off in a different direction, seemingly all on its own? New characters showed up you hadn’t dreamed of, and they were more complex and interesting than the ones you had originally outlined. New scenes that you hadn’t planned evolved in your imagination that made the story more suspenseful.

Or maybe you began writing an essay about a certain topic, say a generic one about motherhood. As you began writing it though, a different idea took hold, perhaps about becoming a new mom during the pandemic. When you began writing that new essay, the process came easily, seamlessly, and the words flowed. You could almost visualize every word before you wrote it.

You can’t explain what happened in these instances or why. Only that you were guided by a little voice inside that instructed you what to write. Some describe that little voice intuition.

Ask any writer how they define intuition, and they’ll give you a variety of answers.

Colleen Story at Writing and Wellness blog calls it your “writerly instincts,” that inner knowing that you have about your work.

“When a scene works right, you’ll feel it in your bones. You’ll experience a ‘yes’ moment,” writes C.S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive blog. “Conversely, when a scene or character feels out of place you know that too. The more you try to rationalize it, the stronger the ‘No’ becomes.”

That’s why it’s important to listen to your body, Lakin says.

That inner knowing that something is off in your writing is common among writers, especially those whose level of intuition is high. Intuition is that internal sensor of what is going wrong with your writing – and what is going right. It’s there to redirect your efforts so you make smarter choices about plot structure, character and dialogue, even the right word choices.

Listening to the inner “knowing” can build your confidence too. “A well-honed writing intuition can free you from much of the emotional volatility you experience when someone is ‘dissecting your baby’. It means developing greater confidence in your work, disengage from negative emotions and response patterns because you see wisdom in the feedback you get,” writes Angela Ackerman at Writers Helping Writers.net.

No matter what you call it, intuition can serve an important function during the writing process.

Whether we believe it or not, we are all born with intuition. It’s just that many of us tune it out or don’t pay attention to it. Some writers might ignore that voice, and stick to the story line they created in their outline. Others embrace it freely, allowing their intuition to guide their choices during the writing process.

The worst possible scenario is recognizing that it exists but not trusting it. When you don’t trust that inner “knowing,” you may ignore the power it gives you to improve your story.

I can’t tell you how to trust your intuition more. That’s up to you to figure out. But there are several things you can do to enhance your intuition so that it’s accessible and sharper. For starters, you have to learn to practice mindfulness. (These suggestions are also helpful for overcoming writer’s blocks and getting out of ruts.)

1. Take frequent breaks from your work-in progress. Time and distance gives you better perspective. If you feel stuck, set it aside for a day or two. When you come back, you may notice solutions you hadn’t thought of before.

2. Enjoy the outdoors. Being in nature can help you clear your head and perhaps inspire you to write something completely different. Keep the headphones at home too.

3. Practice meditation. Sit quietly on the sofa with your feet planted firmly on the floor, or sit cross-legged if you prefer. Lay your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Let your breathing slow. Follow that breath. As your breath slows, so does your brain. Release every distracting idea that crosses your mind.  

4. Do something else for a while. Work on another piece of writing, read a book, or take a nap. Maybe putz around in the kitchen or clean out a closet. The act of doing something else will engage you brain in other ways.

5. Immerse yourself in water. As strange as it sounds, water can release the tension in your brain as well as your body. Go for a swim, wash dishes or take a bath. In astrology, water is associated with creativity. Immersing yourself in water can help you re-engage your creative side.

6. Tune in to your body. During your walks or meditation or during any quiet moment of the day, sit quietly and notice what is happening with your body. Notice any aches and pains, any stiffness, or any other physical ailments. How does your body feel when it’s relaxed compared to how it feels when you feel tension? It’ll show up in your body in places you didn’t expect. Your body will tell you when something – whether it’s in your personal life or your writing life. Pay attention to those signals that it sends you.

A funny thing happens when you trust your writing intuition. The writing seems to flow more easily, the characters are more complex and nuanced, and the dialogue more interesting. Ultimately, listening to your intuition – and trusting what it tells you – can help you write more engaging stories.

Why Pets Make the Best Companions for Writers

Check out this week’s writing prompt!

Many writers I know live and work in isolation. Luckily, most of them seem to have a loyal furry friend (or two or three) to keep them company. That begs the question: Do pets make the best companions for writers?

The answer to that, of course, depends on where you live, how many people live with you, and whether you like animals or have pet allergies. But more often than not, most writers I know have made room in their lives for a furry pal.

You don’t have to own a dog or cat to appreciate the benefits of pets. Even a goldfish or guinea pig can provide comfort and inspiration when you need it. Colleen Story at the Writing and Wellness blog describes the pros and cons of different types of pets, including horses, goldfish, birds and rabbits. Imagine that you can have a different pet for different reasons!

In fact, writers and their pets are such a fascinating topic that entire books have been written about them. Check out this one by Alison Nastasi and this one by Kathleen Krull.

So why are pets such an important part of writers’ lives? They provide multiple benefits, some related to health and others related to our work.

1. Pets provide inspiration for our work, sometimes acting as a writer’s creative muse. They may show up in stories as a secondary character. Think of Alice Walker and her chickens. She loved her chickens so much, she wrote an entire book about them! While Edgar Allen Poe did not own a pet raven, he was inspired by Charles Dickens’ pet raven to write about them.

2. Pets are good for your health. According to the Center for Disease Control, having a pet helps lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. Pets can lower stress and improve levels of happiness in their owners. Pets need regular exercise to stay healthy and strong, and it’s only natural as pet owners to join them on their excursions. Pets remind us of the importance of regular fitness breaks to keep us active and strong.

3. They provide companionship. In these days of social isolation, when Zoom calls have become the norm, it can be comforting to hug a furry friend. I believe curling up with a dog or cat while reading a book is one of life’s most cherished moments.

4. They teach us about routines. Cats, especially, are creatures of habit. They live their lives by routine. They like to eat at the same time every day, take naps in the same spots, and play with the same toys. Writers who are just starting their writing practice can benefit from establishing a writing routine, just like cats establish their grooming habits. Having a routine can be good for our writing because it establishes a steady rhythm to life.

5. Pets remind us to take frequent breaks. Cats and dogs may race around the room chasing after toys, but afterward, they stop to rest. They take frequent naps too. The time outs are necessary to restore their energy so they can bounce back and play more. As writers, we need to take breaks too to restore our energy, to think more clearly and

6. Pets provide comfort when things aren’t going well. Whether we’re fighting writer’s block or we’ve just received a rejection notice from an editor, pets make us feel that our lives are okay despite the disappointments. Even better, they provide comfort too when things go well. Imagine a congratulatory lick on the face when you’ve just finished a story you’ve slaved over for several weeks.

7. Pets provide unconditional love. We may hate the story we just wrote or the publication that just rejected our essay. We may feel down on our luck and question why we put ourselves through the wringer. Pets love us anyway. As long as we feed them, play with them and keep their litter box clean, they’re happy, and they’ll gladly return the favor.

8. Pets will never share your secrets. When it’s just you and your dog or cat, you can chat with them all day and they won’t tell a soul what you’ve said. They don’t spread gossip either. While they might occasionally misbehave and talk back in their own animal way, they won’t betray your trust. They make good listeners too. So if you need an audience for your latest short story or poem, they will gladly listen – as long as they’re not napping.

Since writers often work in isolation, it’s important to surround themselves with a strong support group, even if that includes a favorite furry friend or two.

Do you have a furry companion in your life? How have they inspired you in your writing?

When Your Creative Muse Ghosts You, Here’s How to Reconnect With It

Photo by Karyme Franu00e7a on Pexels.com

Creativity is an attitude, a habit, and a way of life that allows you to adapt to changing circumstances.”
Barry Kaufman, author and psychologist at Columbia University


Most of us have had that awful experience of being ghosted. Dictionary.com defines ghosting as “the practice of ending all contact with a person without an explanation or a good-bye.”

Most ghosting situations occur in romantic relationships, but they can happen in professional ones too. For example, a client might ghost you after they’ve given you an assignment, or an employer may not follow up with you after an interview that you thought went well.

But what should you do when you’ve been ghosted by your creative muse?

Many artists and creatives rely on their muse for inspiration, to guide them through rough spots during a creative project or make them feel pride in their work. But there are times when it seems the muse has abandoned you. It really hasn’t gone anywhere though. It might disappear for a while, but it’s still there, hovering nearby.

How do you know that your creative muse (or spirit, if you prefer) has ghosted you, or worse is crushed by outside forces?

* You’ve done the same project the same way, each time expecting better results than before – the definition of insanity.
* You haven’t had any fresh, new ideas in a long while.
* You’re exhausted by the effort you put in
* You can’t concentrate because someone hovers by your work space to make sure you’re doing things the way they want you to do it.
* You know something is wrong with your work-in-progress, but you don’t know how to fix it.
* You are constrained by tons of rules and restrictions from your client or supervisor.
* You don’t feel excited about anything you write.
* Projects are more complex and seem to take longer than you anticipated.

Even when it feels like the creative spirit has left you, remember that the disappearance isn’t permanent. The spirit may have taken a break or gone on an extended vacation. The ideas listed below can help you reconnect with your creative muse.   

1. Take a walk in nature. Walking isn’t just good exercise, but being alone in nature helps clear your head.
2. Read a book or catch up on your favorite blog. Reading a favorite author can remind you why you decided to become a writer.
3. Sleep on it. Sometimes when you feel stuck, shelve the problem for the night. A solution may come by morning.
4. Take a bath or shower. In astrology, water symbolizes creativity. Immersing yourself in water can flush out creative ideas. Some of my best ideas came while I was taking a shower.
5. Do nothing. Let your mind be a blank for a day. Give your creative muse the day off.
6. Attend an online webinar. You might learn something that jogs your thought process. You might generate ideas that you never considered before.
7. Unplug from electronics. Your smart phone and social media may be clouding your creativity and putting too many distractions in your way.  
8. Talk things over with a friend or writing buddy. They might provide a perspective you had not considered.
9. Keep writing. Even if you produce less-than-stellar material, you’re still exercising your creative muscle. Good ideas are bound to float to the page.
10. Practice self-care. If you were your creative muse, would you want to work with you? According to Writing and Wellness blog, make yourself more inviting so your creative muse will want to work with you. Treat yourself to a haircut, get a new outfit, or get a massage. When you feel good about yourself, your creative muse will be happy to inspire you.  
11. Watch a movie. For fun, pay attention to the story line. Make a note of character arcs, plot points, inciting incident, etc. It’ll get you in the practice of creating your own story line.
12. Listen to music. Music is known to calm the savage beast, so they say. If you feel frustrated by the creative process, music might put you in the mood to write.
13. Seek feedback from a mentor or coach. They might share a perspective you had not considered.
14. Engage in a different hobby. Play sports, draw some sketches or try out a new recipe. You’re still engaging your creative muse, but in different ways.
15. Change your surroundings. Rearrange furniture in your workspace, clear out desk drawers or get a new desk lamp. One small change can alter the creative energy in your workspace.
16. Vent your frustrations in a journal. Writing down your feelings can clear your mind of toxic thoughts that can block your creativity.
17. Browse through old photos. Looking back over photos from the past might trigger memories of good and bad experiences worth writing about.
18. Review your writer’s journal. Hopefully you keep a writer’s journal where you write story ideas, characters, scene ideas, etc. Looking back over these ideas might spark a creative idea for a new project.
19. Visit a museum, city landmark or neighborhood that you’ve never visited before. It might give you a new perspective on the world.
20. Go back to your “why.” We all have a reason for writing. Go back and review why you write. The answer might inspire you to get back to your desk.

Remember, your creative muse has its off days too. Sometimes you have to give it the time, space and attention it needs to flourish.