Intuition is one of a writer’s most useful tools. Unfortunately, it is one of the most overlooked, no doubt because it is usually associated with fortune-tellers and crystal balls.
In truth, intuition means inner teaching. It is the “ah hah” that marks the illumination stage of the creative process. An essential stage, it is right up there in importance with preparation, incubation and implementation.
By tapping into intuition, we can generate unique ideas to write about, resolve problems in our manuscripts and come up with promising markets.
Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung classified intuiting as one of four ways of knowing. (The other three are feeling, thinking and sensing.) People who have an intuitive style of obtaining information and ideas:
- Observe the world around them holistically
- Trust their hunches and “gut feelings”
- Are aware of the future and
- Are imaginative
A Muse Who’s Who:
The ancient Greeks’ personified the inspirations that arise from intuition as Muses. The nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, or Memory, they prompt those they visit to remember what they have forgotten. Muses with a special affinity for writers are:
- Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry
- Clio, the Muse of history
- Euterpe, the Muse of lyric poetry
- Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy
- Erato, the Muse of love poetry
- Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred poetry, and
- Thalia, the Muse of comedy
The muses didn’t retire with the decline of the Golden Age of Greece.
- Robert Louis Stevenson dreamed, his book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- Rene Descartes invented analytical geometry while watching a fly on the wall.
- Elias Howe’s dream of a sword with a hole in the end solved the problem of how to make his sewing machine work.
- Albert Einstein daydreamed about trains and, as a result, came up with the theory of relativity.
Intuition is not effortless. It can be cultivated:
The Muses bestow their favors on those who make them welcome. Children’s book author, Jane Yolen, puts it another way, “…Intuition works best when you remember that ‘tuition’ is part of it. You need to have paid ahead of time (ie. Done your prep work) so as to prepare the ground for intuition.”
The ways you can entice the muses into your life are many:
- Just say yes.
- If you expect your muses to help you, then you need to believe in them. Be open to the possibility that your intuition can help you in your writing and marketing and in all areas of your life.
- Feed your muses.
- Read good books – all kinds of books. Spend time with friends. Stop to smell the roses. Take the time to look at the northern lights, play with a baby, go to an art museum, listen to music, and eat good chocolate. The muses aren’t in the mood to help when they’re on a starvation diet.
- Change your routines.
- If you’ve not yet met your muse, maybe you’ve been hanging out in the wrong places or with the wrong people. Try taking a new route to work in the morning, wearing a color you’ve never worn before, eating something different, making a new friend or renting a video that isn’t your typical choice.
- Open your eyes.
- Be on the lookout for inspiration. Notice the patterns in the fallen leaves on the sidewalk or the snow drifts against the side of the house. See pictures in the clouds and the tea leaves at the bottom of your cup. If a book falls from the shelf and at your feet at the bookstore, read it. Remember your dreams.
- Take the time to let your thoughts take shape instead of pushing and pulling them into some predetermined order. Sit with the information you’ve gathered and allow it to gel without giving it conscious attention. Whether you choose to meditate or daydream, removing your thoughts from the project at hand gives the muses the space and time they need to work.
Three excellent resources for strengthening your intuition:
For your convenience, if you click on the title you will be linked to Amazon.com
where you can purchase the book if you wish.
Your Guide to Creating a Life You Love
by Lynn A. Robinson, M.Ed.
(London: Dorling Kindersley, 2001)
Robinson, a consultant and seminar leader, focuses on the spiritual aspects of intuition in this beautiful and inspirational book. Some of the topics she covers are how to flow gracefully through change, how to overcome fear, choosing the path with heart and how to cope with indecision. The book is filled with quotations and exercises that lead the reader to listen to what the Higher Power has to say, instead of using intuition to try to play God in our lives.
The Intuitive Way: A Guide to Living from Inner Wisdom
by Penney Peirce
(New York: MJF Books, 1997)
How can you tell the difference between intuition and wishful thinking? How can you become aware of the flow and learn to stay in it? What can you do to start living in alignment with the creative cycle? This book answers those questions and much more. The first part is devoted to creating a clear lens by working on the issues that color and distort our intuitive perceptions. After providing techniques for getting in touch with intuition, Peirce discusses how to use it in the course of daily life. Wise, gentle and non-manipulative, this book is a course in self-knowledge.
You Already Know What to Do:
10 Invitations to the Intuitive Life
by Sharon Franquemont
(New York: Tarcher, 1999)
Franquemont, a former professor of intuition at John F. Kennedy University, discusses intuition using a science-centered model, a psychological model, a spiritual model and an indigenous wisdom model. The exercises in this book are wonderful for releasing the imagination and use a great deal of journaling to accomplish this. Although she begins with an individual perspective, she broadens the focus to end the book with a discussion about using intuition as a way to build community and begin to connect with and heal the earth.