I have a friend who had traditionally published several romantic-suspense novels, but in 2006, a different kind of book called to her. It was unlike anything she’d ever written.
With fear and excitement, she gave her proposal to her literary agent for feedback.
Her agent hated it. So, did her closest friends.
Still, this woman felt so strongly about this thriller she parted ways with her agent and ignored the other naysayers. Good thing, too. Her new agent sold that novel for six figures. It was her first book to hit the New York Times best sellers’ list and has become a very successful series.
This author’s experience serves as an important lesson for all writers…
Trust your intuition.
We All Need a Jiminy Cricket
In the Disney classic, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket acts as the puppet boy’s conscience and good friend. He’s clever, kind, caring and brave. He will do anything for his friend, even if it’s life-threatening.
Each of us has a still, small voice like that. Whether you call it gut instinct, your muse or God, it’s an inner knowing to guide you in all areas of your life.
If you let it.
The same holds true for writers.
Writing is full of uncertainty. The process requires faith since you’re creating something from nothing.
Many of you email me questions, like:
Should I write this genre or that?
Should I try a screenplay or a novel?
How do I fix my plot problems?
I offer suggestions, but cannot answer those type of questions.
Only you can. You have everything you need to make those decisions.
Just like writing is a habit that takes practice, so is listening to and trusting your intuition.
Feel it in Your Gut
1. Stop and listen – It’s hard enough to slow down to eat these days, much less check in with your intuition. Especially since your gut instinct doesn’t usually holler out the answer to your writing dilemmas (or anything else, for that matter).
A writer’s intuition is quiet. Subtle. You have to listen for solutions without any words.
Different methods of developing your intuition work for different people:
* Sit still and close your eyes. You don’t have to pretzel your body like a yogi, just sit somewhere comfortable for 5 – 15 minutes. Hold a particular writing question in your head, then relax. Don’t force solutions. Your thoughts may run frantic through your mind. Don’t try to control it (you can’t), just redirect your thoughts back to your writing question. Watch it like a movie. Let it be.
* Journal three pages everyday. I learned this process years ago through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s called Morning Pages and I do them first thing everyday about all areas of my life for about 15 minutes. Ask yourself questions, then sit back and marvel at the responses.
If mornings don’t work for you, try them at night or during you lunch break, but try them. They work.
* Walking. Drain your brain by taking a stroll for 5 – 15 minutes. Outside is best. Move at whatever pace suits you — stroll, walk or go faster. Walking connects both the left and right sides of the brain. Many experts believe this helps with creativity and problem solving. Seriously, Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau and Ernest Hemingway practiced this method. If it was good enough for them, then it should be good enough for you.
I’ve done all three methods, although sitting still is hardest for me because I’m a high-energy kinda gal. Journaling or walking at least help me feel like I’m doing something.
Whichever way you choose, be patient. You probably won’t find your answer on your first try, or second. Don’t be surprised if it takes weeks, or even months to find your answers. This process requires patience, which I don’t naturally possess, but it’s who I am.
2. Watch for physical responses – Once you feel an answer emerging, don’t be surprised if you get sweaty palms, butterflies in your stomach or feel unsteady. These can all be literal signs from your body saying, YES! you’re on the right track. You may feel excited to follow your intuition right away, or scared to death because you’re too far from your comfort zone. You could never accomplish such a feat.
You can. It takes small, but consistent steps. So, go ahead, write, edit, query, publish. Whatever your intuition says to do next.
Practice Makes Progress
Believe me, I plan to check my gut a lot this year to help me (finally!) decide the best option for publishing my novel, Pennies from Burger Heaven.
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I guess I was in too much emotional pain about losing my literary agent to consider trying it. I got amnesia. I needed time and space to heal to even remember I had an intuition. I’m now ready for my answer…whatever it may be.
Do you need to do anything different to trust your intuition more?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to chat.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.