Please welcome guest Gwendolyn Womack to Writer Unboxed today! Gwendolyn Womack writes romantic thrillers that explore a spectrum of metaphysical subjects including divination, reincarnation, magic, and ancient explorers. Her debut novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA Prism Award winner and two-time Indie Next Pick. Her second novel, The Fortune Teller, is out in bookstores today.
Intuition & Writing: What Happens Next?
For the past several years I’ve been researching ancient oracles, Tarot cards, and other forms of divination for my second novel, The Fortune Teller. All of that research has gotten me thinking a lot about intuition and the role it plays in the writing process. Creating stories is like creating dreams and it is an incredibly intuitive process. So as writers, the more we can train ourselves to build that intuitive muscle, the more it will help when we’re diving into characters’ psyches, figuring out plot and culling our imaginations to answer that age-old question: what happens next?
First I’ll start with goosebumps. I’m a firm believer in them—the feeling that strikes you when you’ve stumbled onto an idea. I look at it as biomechanical feedback, a little message from the brain to the body that you are on the right track.
One of my favorite writing quotes is from Ray Bradbury who said, “Your intuition already knows what it wants to write, so get out of the way.” There is a lot of truth in that, and if you embrace the idea, it really is liberating. So whenever you’re stuck wrestling with the words, maybe try telling yourself that your subconscious has already figured this mess out, written the whole thing, and then get back to work. Perhaps it sounds wacky, but give it a try. Writing in general is a lot of feeling around in the dark. We just have to get comfortable with it.
Most writers I know are already very intuitive and many of these tips may seem par for the course. But if you’re just starting out on the writing path or need a little pick-me-up reminder, here are a few things I’ve found helpful to encourage intuitive writing:
Plan what you’re going to write the next day when you’re in bed and almost asleep. I’ve heard it said, and I completely agree, that nothing you ever write at night while you’re drifting off to sleep will be cut from your story, because usually it’s one of your best ideas—or lines. During those twilight times, when our conscious minds are closest to our subconscious, good ideas often come. It’s also why people tend to have eureka moments in the shower or the bath or while taking long drives or walks. So always keep some paper or a voice recorder handy and don’t let those ideas, lines, and words pass you by.
Listen to life. Synchronicity = serendipitous moments when life seems to be talking to you, first coined by Carl Jung. Synchronicity is your subconscious looking at the world in action and interpreting seemingly random events as having a deeper meaning just for you. It becomes a message you want yourself to hear. Sometimes when you’re submerged in a story, your intuitive antennae is finely tuned and you will notice things around you that seem to have significance to what you’re writing. Be alert to those times and think about how it can possibly play into your story. That can translate into the sense of little bits of real life on the page.
Don’t doubt. Don’t waste time second guessing yourself.
Create some magic. Create spaces where your intuition can thrive. Tune out the world and tune in. Make such an inviting space for yourself, when you write you will forget to check email or Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Goodreads or your website or… whatever else you’ve got to check. Change it up and be adventurous. Light a candle and get out some paper to conjure up a scene. Buy a little standing desk for your keyboard and put on a great song and move around while you type. Or step away from writing entirely and go get a massage. Mentally brainstorm while the massage therapist dissolves the knots you have in your neck because you’re always typing. There are a lot of things to try. Have fun and energize the process.
So good luck writing that story your future self has already written!
Please share in the comments anything you’ve found helpful to tap into your intuition while writing. I’d love to hear it.