Merriam-Webster defines intuition as “quick and ready insight; the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”
Sometimes we call intuition a sixth sense or a gut instinct. And there’s no shortage of anecdotes about the power of female intuition. But could tuning into your intuition make you a better writer?
I started asking myself this question after I met CC Barber of The Luxe Shamaness. CC does energy readings and helps people use their intuition to practice better self-care and support their own healing journey.
I asked her if she thought being in touch with intuition could make a person more creative.
“I absolutely do,” she said. CC has a degree in nursing and for years didn’t consider herself a creative person.
“It’s just not how I’ve ever felt I’m wired,” she said. “However, when I started to lean into my intuition, the creativity started to pour out of me like liquid gold.”
Tina Welling, author of the book Writing Wild, believes we writers should replace the idea of “the Muse” with intuition.
“We say the Muse visited us or the Muse failed to show up… Why would we want to disguise the partnering of our intuition and creative energy by personifying it as the Muse, a fickle being that is separate from us?” Welling wrote in a guest post for Write It Sideways.
After falling down the Google rabbit hole on the topic of writing and intuition, I read article after article, blog post after blog post, from writers who said their intuition helped them get unstuck. Listening to their intuition helped some writers move their stories forward when plot planning and character development exercises didn’t. Intuition told others when to step away from one writing project and focus on another.
Even psychologists and psychiatrists have plenty to say about the power of intuition. While some define intuition as what happens when the brain draws on past experiences and external cues to make a decision, others believe intuition really does come from the gut.
“Just like the brain, there are neurotransmitters in the gut that can respond to environmental stimuli and emotions in the now,” Judith Orloff, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of Guide to Intuitive Healing: Five Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness, said in an interview for WebMD.
In that interview, Orloff also reminds us that men can be just as intuitive as women. We just live in a society that, unfortunately, teaches boys and men not to listen to their feelings.
But I’ll save my feminist rant against the culture of hyper-masculinity for another post.
5 Ways to Tune into Your Writer’s Intuition
So, what can we writers do to start tapping into our intuition?
“Just like anything it takes practice,” CC told me. So, she suggested starting with small things.
If you always go the same route to and from work but suddenly get the feeling to take a different road, try it and see what happens. When you randomly think about someone and have a feeling to give them a call, pick up the phone.
“When you start to recognize ‘that feeling’ and it feels safe to take a leap and trust it, that’s always when I am — to this day– pleasantly surprised at the realization in hindsight that it was my intuition guiding me,” CC said.
Here are five things I’m doing to get in touch with my writer’s intuition that I think you should try too:
- I am going to silence my inner mean girl. Self-doubt can kill creativity, so I’m replacing the words of my inner critic, which I call my inner mean girl, with positive self-talk and powerful affirmations.
Related Reading: 10 Affirmations to Silence Your Inner Critic
- I’m going to allow myself space and time to dream. And I don’t just mean jotting down goals or writing a vision for my future writing life. I’m giving myself permission to daydream, too. Did you know that a study from the Georgia Institute of Technology showed that daydreaming can be a sign of creativity and high intelligence? And studies out of the University of California at Santa Barbara found that daydreaming enhances problem-solving skills and can help us come up with new ideas.
- I’m going to walk the talk — literally. Most creatives agree that spending time in nature is a great way to get in touch with your writer’s intuition. I do this best by simply getting outside to take a walk. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking through my neighborhood or on my favorite trail.
- I’m going to listen to my body. Paying attention to your physical responses to people, places, things, and situations can not only help you tap into your intuition but can help you take better care of yourself, too.
- I’m going to journal every day. As a full-time freelance writer, it’s hard for me to make time to write for myself. But this year I’m committing to journaling every day, making note of those random thoughts that just won’t go away, recognizing that these thoughts could very well be my intuition leading me to where I need to be.
In the next issue of the See Jane Write Weekly, I’ll be sharing journal prompts to help you tap into your writer’s intuition. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss out!