Intuition, a Writer's bff with Prickles - Jo-Ann Carson

Intuition, a Writer’s bff with Prickles


Florence, Italy

Anne Lamott calls it broccoli.

Whatever you call your intuition, you need a close-up and personal relationship with it to create. Outsiders might think you harness it, but you know better. You can’t control intuition. It’s too big, too wild, too free. It will not  be reigned in by soft words or harsh words, candlelight or hurricanes. It defies limits, and deadlines. It mocks us when we make demands. Intuition is the gift of the Muse. And what a lovely gift it is.

Here are 4 quotes from Anne Lamott about using your intuition that really hit home for me:

“Don’t look at your feet to see if your are doing it right. Just dance. You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when y ou stop the the chattering of the rational mind.” (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p. 112)

“Train yourself to hear that small inner voice.” (Ibid, p. 113)

“I think a major step in learning to rely on your intuition is to find  a usable metaphor for it. Broccoli is so ridiculous it works for me. .. But whatever you come up with needs to suggest a voice that you are not trying to control. “(p.114)

“Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly.” ( p. 114)

These quotes reminded me of a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, famous author of Eat, Prey, Love. Her talks is called, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.”

11 Replies to “Intuition, a Writer’s bff with Prickles”

  1. The intuitive dance is a gift. Some days I’m waltzing across the floor and other times I’m waiting pensively on the side-lines.

    I love the brilliance of Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert. They are authors who I wish to embrace, that’s for sure. Thanks for the excerpts.

    1. Jodie
      You’re welcome. I love talking about this stuff. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      btw I love your article in our newsletter about how time is altered by our technology. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. For some crazy reason I feel I need to answer emails immediately. It’s a crazy way to live. I like your determination to keep control of your own life– write and publish on your own terms.
      Best Wishes

      1. Thanks Jo-Ann for reading my article in the newsletter. Yes, the strides in technology have been monumental. And finding the right ‘balance’ is truly a struggle. But an important one. I feel I have to stay up-to-date in the techie world, but at the same time, it can suck you in like some kind of whirlpool. That’s when author gurus like Ms. Lamott and Ms. Gilbert are important.

  2. Intuition or inspiration, this is a great look at the writing process. Watching the TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert is illuminating. I’ll just keep showing up and hoping for those flashes of genius and inspiration to illuminate my work. And whether I sell one book or one million I’ll leave that in the hands of the gods and just do the best I can.

    1. Hi Pat
      Thanks. I love how Gilbert talks about spirits in the wall. She makes it sound funny, but we know the feeling.
      I like how you look at it — leaving it to the gods and getting on with your writing.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Happy writing

  3. I always loved the story of Dorothy Johnson (A Man called Horse, for those of you old enuf to remember) who was writing a story about NYC during World War II, “The Unbombed.” One day she wrote me that she’d just had a great shock: the man she thought was to be the hero was going to be killed in the war. How did she know? Her muse told her. Dorothy was a great believer in her muse, and she wrote some terrific stories.

  4. Great blog. I loved the Gilbert TED talk. I’m a great believer in the muse, have named a series of serigraph prints that and had it plague my first heroine. For myself, I think it most often comes in that half time between wake and sleep when I sit up and write, without my glasses, something that I hope makes sense in the morning. It often takes the story off in a whole new direction.
    Thanks for this.

  5. Wow! You’re amazing how you pull things together, Jo-Ann. My favorite Lamont comment above is: “Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly.” I use a small stuff doggy who sits on top of my computer when I’m writing new material. Otherwise, my mean spirited critic shuts down the process.
    I believe that you “panster” folks are more familiar with your “muse” or whatever you call it, than those of us who plot. But even with all my charts, sometimes stuff just happens that I had no plan for at all. I always find that a bit delightful.
    I’m a talker and have made lots of presentations in lots of settings, but I can’t imagine standing there and talking for 18 minutes without note one! I’ve enjoyed every Ted talk I’ve heard. They always make me think. As do you, Jo-Ann. Thanks for this post. I’ll FB and Tweet for certain.

    1. Hi Marsha
      Thanks for stopping by and giving me support.
      I’m fascinated with speakers that can go for twenty without notes (e.g., TED talkers) but I wonder if they have teleprompts.
      You answered one of the questions I’ve always had about plotters. How do you feel when something unexpected turns up. You, clearly enjoy it.
      Thanks again

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