Developing Your Writer’s Intuition
by Angela Ackerman
We all know what an Internal Editor is. That's the part of ourselves that analyzes as we write, adding nice commentary like, "You're writing that...seriously?" or "Yeesh, cliché much?" When he really gets going, he might fall back and howl with laughter, citing our purple prose, our melodramatic characters, our flaccid plotting abilities. On bad days, he simply chants, "Hack! Hack! Hack!"
And yet, we continue to write. Sure, we eat a bit too much chocolate, drink too much coffee and may even develop a habit of grinding our teeth. But we shake off the taunts and keep going. Why?
Because of our writer's intuition.
This is the part of us that knows the story is there. It believes in us, and knows this story is ours--only WE can tell it properly. Our Writer's Intuition is a tiny cord of strength and determination that keeps our fingers on the keyboard, and if we nurture it, it will become our most powerful tool as writers.
Writer's intuition is what the Internal Editor wants to be. If you strip away the insecurity of the IE, add a dash of patience, well, we have somebody that's really trying to help us. Face it, once we've drafted and we're ready to revise, we need to know when we've slipped into a clichéd description, gone on a purple tear, or need to juice up the plot with paddles from a crash cart.
So how do we develop our Writer's intuition and use it to transform the Internal Editor from Foe to Friend?
1) Mute the Internal Editor during drafting. That is one place where you should never, ever let IE nag. Drafting is pure creation, so give yourself over to it. You should have free rein to transcribe the essence of the story in your mind without worrying if the writing is pure brilliance or not. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and just WRITE.
2) Take the time to learn the craft. Books on writing can give you a huge leg up. Blog posts are bite-sized gems filled with advice. Join writer's groups, get involved in discussions, try a workshop or conference. The more you know, the more you will trust your Writer's Intuition. The resulting confidence puts YOU back in charge, not the IE.
3) Give freely to others. There is no better way to learn how to revise than by critiquing other writers. There is a freedom in it, an ability to be objective because the writing is not ours. We learn to recognize what works and what doesn't, and these lessons stay with us when we do turn back to our own work.
4) LISTEN to your intuition, even when you don't want to. You know, like when a niggling worry hits that there's a problem with a scene or character but you hope that the Agent or Editor will find the rest so dazzling they'll forget about it? Yeah, THAT. We all feel the temptation to hit send rather than slave some more. Don't give into it. Trust your intuition and if you think there's a problem, get some fresh eyes and opinions. You only get one chance to impress, so send out your best.
5) Always open yourself to learning more. None of us are experts, not even the most successful of authors. We always can become stronger writers. Feed that passion to learn and grow, and your writer's intuition will grow with you!