Thursday, January 26, 2012

Writer's Intuition — Part I

When it comes to women's intuition, even Ghost Hunk has been converted from a skeptic to a true believer.  He has learned over the years to trust my intuition no matter how wacky it may seem.  And of course, it's almost always right.  But what about writer's intuition?  There are many facets to this wonder of the creative process, but for this post I'm going to tackle the question of the new project and how do you balance your WIP(s) and your inspirations.  When in the process are you thinking of your next book?

I've known writers who juggle a handful of manuscripts in various states of repair all at one time, but I have enough in my life to sort out, so that won't ever be me.  I tend to be a monogamous WIPster, a one-WIP-at-a-time kind of gal (excluding editor/agent revisions, of course).  I have, however, developed a sort of rhythm about these things.  I don't really know when the WIP is almost ready until I've had that ZING of inspiration for the next novel.  But I can't get that zing until the WIP is in the right place either.

I guess that's what I mean by writer's intuition.  The whole process is completely subconscious, lodged somewhere in that mystical land where the heart/gut sends invisible smoke signals to the brain and they figure out who is going to lead the search party and when.  Then you have the wind and the rain and everything else that can get in the way...

My poor WIP has been wheezing along for the last two months, inching its way towards the final hurrah but not quite getting up enough steam to make it over the hill.  Meanwhile, my writer's intuition has been sorting through the odd possibility or two for the next project.  On several occasions, I thought I may have struck gold but it turned out to be nothing more than pyrite and my WIP still lumbered along.

Then last week it happened.  The Zinger. It stuck me right between the eyes and deep in my heart because the subject is so close to home.  Amazingly, the WIP suddenly picked up steam too.  I got clarity and momentum all in one day!  I don't think the Zinger would have found me if I hadn't reached a certain point in my WIP, and I couldn't have cut that lodestone loose and revived my WIP unless I had met my Zinger.  It's all in the timing.

I know...this post wreaks of bad metaphors, but I'm saving the good stuff for the novels!  So how do you balance your WIPs and inspirations?  


  1. I'm such an ADD writer. In order to stay motivated, I have to have lots of irons in the fire, so to speak. But I only revise one WIP at a time.

    Yes, I've got a zinger pestering me, but I'm keeping her inside my head for now. I work on her when I'm lying in bed half-asleep with my eyes closed. She can come out to play on paper once the other WIPS are revised.

    Thrilled to hear you've got the inspirational momentum that will carry you through the end and into a new beginning. ^_^

  2. I can only work on drafting one WIP at a time - and like you I will often have shiny new idea blast into my sub-conscious about 2/3 of the way through the manuscript. Then I have to start a shiny new idea file and right stream of consciousness notes until I'm assured I have enough down I'll remember it. Then SNI fights a little for head space with WIP till I wrestle it down and have the motivation to fly through WIP. I also can't draft if I'm working on a a true revision. Have to put new work aside. I'm pretty linear I guess.

  3. I'm a bit like up there - I'll really devote my concentration on one project at a time, but when little sparks hit me that would be great for some other project, I get them all down and store them for later.
    I suppose I'm a bit squirrely that way - storing little nuggets away for leaner inspiration times.

  4. Yes, I'm an idea pack-rat too. I often keep a journal for each WIP, starting with the pre-writing stuff. I think it through, bit by bit, wherever and whenever the inspiration hits me. Snippets of character, plot, theme...whatever.

    I have a file with stray ideas, but I wouldn't call them zingers...yet. Those are my nuggets for later. The Zingers won't leave me alone, so they get their own journal.

  5. I don't have the brain capacity to work on more than one project at a time, but while I'm working on one, I do collect bits and jot notes that often seem to end up working their way into the next new project. I love it when everything starts to come together and rejuvenates a project.

  6. Loved reading this.
    Oh, and like you Mary Ann- I’m a one-at-a-time story writer. (Call us Serial Monogamists.)

  7. Great post. I could really relate. Depending what else is going on in my life, I either focus on one thing or work on five. Much of the time this has little to do with intuition. It is more about deadlines and what I think I can sell to a publisher next. But in terms of figuring out which idea might become a viable project at all, that's really intuition. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, because my current WIP is turning out so strangely that i'm not sure it was a good idea. I'll soldier on for a while, though, and see what happens.

  8. Nice blog...thanks for the sharing

  9. Lolol! You totally got me with the "monogamous WIPster" comment. Too clever.

    I also have to stick with one WIP at a time. There are too many things to keep track of while drafting and writing to even contemplate trying to do that for two ideas.


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