writing abundance

The Romantic Ideal of Writing

The traditional writing life: you write a novel, submit it to an agent, it gets sold to a good publishing house and they do a lot of work to market you.  Ads in print publications, a book tour, readings and signings galore.  If you are a literary type, you might take a job teaching writing and/or English at a university.  If you're a genre type, then you go home and write your next book.  Life is good.Library_books_122977_m

The contemporary writing life: you write a novel, submit it to an agent, wait until your as-yet-unborn grandchild grows up and has children of her own, and then you finally get a no from the agent.  So you find a small publisher for your novel, or publish it yourself.  Nobody does the slightest thing to market you, so you tend a blog, you have a social media presence, and when your book is ready to be released you make a book trailer to put up on You Tube. You realize that the income from your beloved novel is going to amount to a mere pittance and so you write an Ebook covering everything you know about writing and you begin a coaching program, too.  You even consider teaching a teleclass or webinar, because nobody's been hired for a university position teaching writing since the Clinton administration.  Life is good, but far, far different than you expected.

The traditional writing life is on life-support, if it exists at all anymore.  But for me, it has existed in my mind as the romantic ideal of writing for years.  And even though I've embraced blogging and social media with gusto, still part of me yearned to achieve a traditional writing life.  Because, wouldn't it be nice to do nothing but write novels all day?  I'd be happy if I could split my time between writing novels and blogging, popping the occasional chocolate in my mouth from time to time.

But I can't.  And up until last week, when my coach called me out on this little thought that was stuck in my head, I didn't even realize it.  (This is why coaches are so great and why the whole coaching industry sprang up overnight.) I had earnestly been explaining to her why I had yet again put off writing the Ebook that I started last December.  And after some digging and poking about, she managed to get me to uncover where I was stuck.  And let me just say, I wasn't only stuck, I was absolutely mired in this romantic ideal of writing, certain it would happen for me any day now and I wouldn't have to write the Ebook or ponder teleclasses (for a person who doesn't much like talking on the phone, the idea of conducting teleclasses is terrifying), or do anything differently from what I'm doing today.

But it is a different world, as we all know by now.  And different worlds call for different strategies.  All this is by way of saying that I am going to start working on my Ebook this week, I am, I am, I am.  Just as soon as I get my office that I started six months ago finished…No, in truth, my session with my coach transformed my thinking and cleared enough crap out of the way that I've started taking notes and getting excited about the Ebook again.  And let me just say it again, that is why coaching is so great.

What about you?  Is there something you are ignoring that you should be doing?  Are you holding onto an outdated romantic ideal of writing?

***Do you need help clearing out romantic ideals of writing or other issues?  Email me and let's discuss coaching.  Your wonderful contemporary writing career is waiting.   Or check out my page about coaching packages and then email me.

Embracing Spring

My apologies to those of you currently buried under snow, or digging out from your latest blizzard, but here Almond_orchards_trees_248628_l in Portland, we've had one of the warmest winters on record. The rhodies, daffodils and crocus have been blooming for a couple weeks now and the temps are regularly reaching 60 degrees.  We've even had us some sunny weather.

It is wonderful, and I'm still trying to like it.

I'm more of an autumn person.  I love when the leaves fall and everything is red and orange and yellow.  (Have you ever noticed what a great accent color orange is?  It pops everything out.) I love when the big windstorms blow in from the Pacific and the rain begins again and the days get shorter. (Yes, I really do love it when it gets dark early–I blame that on my Danish heritage.)

When the days are short and dark, you can cuddle up inside by the fire, and read and write and not feel like you have to be outside doing stuff.

The last few weeks I've been struggling with the urge to be outside and do stuff.  I should say, I haven't been struggling with that urge, because I resist it when the weather first turns.  Like a small child, I throw tantrums: I don't wanna go outside and walk, I want to stay at my computer and become one with it.  I don't want to revel in the sunshine, I want to be lazy and lie on the couch and read this here book, and while I'm at it, become one with the couch, too.  Because of these childish urges, I'm actually happy when the sun goes away and the rain starts.  Yay!  I can stay inside longer.

But the weather gods have not been cooperating with me, and I've had to put up with these endless days of sunshine.  So I'm learning to embrace spring.

And the thought occurs that there's a correlation to writing.  Because, you know, there's always a correlation to writing in my world, it can't be helped.  And over the last couple weeks, I've been fooling around with a new novel.  For a long time, I was hesitant even to say the word novel.  I'd call it a project. 

Because what if it didn't turn into anything?  And what if I talked about it and it didn't turn into anything and then people started asking me about it and I got embarrassed?  I'm convinced half the problems in the world could be solved if we did away with embarrassment.  Because I wanted to save face, it was easier to call it a project than a novel.  Or just pretend I wasn't really working on it at all.

Enjoying spring weather is the same way.  What if you start going outside and reveling in it every day, and then, the rain comes and suddenly all that glory is taken away from you?  Better just to not enjoy it to begin with.  Better to leave the novel in your head, unwritten.

Right?

Not a chance.  Life is about taking risks, plunging in, placing yourself on the edge to see what will happen when you tip over. 

So I will now admit that I'm working on a new novel.  As a matter of fact, thanks to one of my lovely students, the wonderful Karen, I am actually working really hard on a new novel because she and I have made a sacred Nanowrimo pact and are each writing 50,000 words a day.  That's 2,000 words a day, baby!  Read it and weep!

Because, oh God, it is wonderful to be wrapped up in writing fiction again.  Even more wonderful than spring.

Book Review: Second Sight

Second Sight                        Book Cover

by Judith Orloff 

Three Rivers Press, 1996, 2010

I was offered the chance to review Second Sight and leapt at the chance because of the subject matter- intuition.  I'm always curious about intuition and looking for new ways to access it.  Reading this book got me jazzed about working with dreams and re-charged my meditation practice.

The author, Judith Orloff, came out of the intuitive closet to first write Second Sight in 1996.  Seeing as how she is a practicing psychiatrist and has been on the staff of the UCLA Medical Center for years, this was a courageous act.  At the time, many people linked the faintest whiff of intuition with tacky psychics you access on 800 numbers.  Lots has changed since then–lots and lots–and so Orloff felt compelled to bring the book out in a new edition with a new foreword.

Judith-portrait I'm glad she did, because I missed it the first time around and I really loved this book.  It is part memoir and part guide to encourage more intuition in your life. The first section of the book tells the story of her life, beginning with an amazing near-death experience that she had as a teenager.  This only added more confusion to her rebellious life.  The daughter of two prominent LA physicians, Orloff had been having visions, dreams and premonitions since she was a young child.

When Orloff told her mother of her visions, she was told in return that she needed to grow a thicker skin, or any of several similar comments common to the time.  So Orloff tried to ignore her intuitive gifts and buried herself in a life with a strict allegiance to science, becoming a psychiatrist. 

And then one day Orloff ignored what her inner voice was telling her about a patient–and that patient tried to take her own life.  Had Orloff listened to her intuition, she would have realized the serious state of her patient's mental health, and perhaps have been able to circumvent the suicide attempt (luckily, the patient survived).  This experience sent Dr. Orloff into a tailspin during which she reconsidered how she had turned away from her intuitive gifts, and from this point on, she learned not only to improve them, but how to use them in her practice.

The second half of the book offers a guide to how readers can start to use their intuition, too.  She writes about dreams, including psychological, guidance, precognitive, and healing dreams, and explains how to keep a dream journal.  This chapter got me interested in writing down my own dreams again.  I've been of the opinion lately that I can't remember my dreams, which is in a way a form of laziness. Instead of lying still upon awakening to remember my dreams, and then taking the time to write them down, I hop out of bed, eager to get to my cup of coffee.

In her chapter on intuition in everyday life, she writes about synchronicity, deja vu, and intuitive empathy.  Orloff offers ways the reader can encourage their own empathy through meditation, setting up an altar, and the power of ritual.  As she says about meditation, "Intuition flourishes when you give it a space to grow.  Meditation can provide this."  Her enthusiasm for mediation has, as mentioned above, pushed me to return to it with renewed vigor. 

I truly believe that writers benefit every day in a variety of ways from accessing their intuition, and this book gave me fresh insights into how I can access my intuition and use it in service of my creativity. If you want to be an abundant writer, you'll want to be in close touch with your intuition. You can read the post I wrote specifically about using intution in writing, inspired by my reading of Second Sight, here.

Today is a big day, with the re-release of Second Sight being celebrated with gusto on Orloff's site, so see below for info on how to take advantage of this.

GET your copy of Second Sight ON MARCH 1st and
receive 80+ GIfts from amazing teachers such as Dr. Joan Borysenko, Rev.
Michael Beckwith, and Deepak Chopra, and Shirley MacLaine at http://www.drjudithorloff.com/second-sight-promotion/

Warming Up, or The Art of Recycling Manuscripts

In writing, nothing is ever wasted.  I'm forever saying this to clients, and, well, just about everybody I meet, and it is true.  Your words are never wasted because if they need to be cut from one project, they might become useful in another.  Doesn't matter if you have a bad experience, because, at least you can write about it.  (As a matter of fact, I've coaxed myself into many an event I don't want to attend with that thought–at least I can write about it.)

But I've recently rediscovered a way to literally and physically not waste words by recycling manuscripts.  And I don't mean throwing them in the recycling bin.  Here's the deal:  I've been organizing my office for the last, oh, six months, and at the rate I'm going I'll be working on it for the next six months. Part of why this is taking so long is that I'm going through everything--old stories, old notes, everything. 

In my most recent pile, I found a sheaf of slender pieces of paper, rubberbanded together.  Curious (of course I have to look at everything), I pulled the rubber band off and found that what I had were sentences.  Some were hand-written, and some were cut from a printed manuscript page. 

I realized immediately what I had found–story starters.  Oh, okay, call them prompts, though for some reason I don't like that word.  Clearly, at some point in the past, I had meticulously written down sentences that captured my attention, and spent time cutting apart manuscripts.

So I decided to experiment with these sentences.  Earlier this week, I used one as a starter for a writing session, though I kept it specifically focused on the new novel.  And it was great.  To me, that is one of the best use of prompts–write from them with a specific focus, hopefully whatever it is you are working on. 

Digging further through this file, I found three pages of an old manuscript.  I mean, this was old–it had been printed on a dot-matrix printed.  Remember those?  I used to love the ritual of tearing the edges off the paper.  Anyway, the writing on the page was as old as the printer and, how shall I say this so as not to hurt my own feelings–it needed some work.  It is not a project I'm going to return to as I have no interest in it. 

But then I thought–aha!  I have a use for this old manuscript!  I shall cut it up, sentence by sentence, and use it for a story starter.  I put all the thin pieces of paper containing the sentences into a box with my old hand-written ones,and draw one when I'm ready to write.  Here's several to get you started, and note that some of these may be copied from books.  But it doesn't matter, take them and make them into your own wonderful work:

  • Grandma sat in the armchair in the dim light, knitting.
  • They tell me I should never let anyone know what happened.
  • "It's not much further now," he called, beads of sweat popping out on his forehead.
  • I know it's dangerous to pick up hitch-hikers, but I stopped anyway.
  • Although there was nothing wrong with his leg, he walked with a cane anyway.

To me, writing to prompts story starters is an excellent way to warm up.  Musicians practice scales, athletes stretch, and we writers need to warm up, too if only to get the blood in our fingers going.  Writing freely  for 10 to 15 minutes can be an excellent way to get the brain moving in the correct direction as well.

Now the problem is that I have an excuse to keep all those old manuscripts.  Good thing I've thrown most of them out already.

How about you?  What's your favorite way to warm for writing?

On Being a Beginner Again

Last night I painted.Paintingsupplies

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about not making having time to paint.

And finally, last night, I got to it.

This morning, I realized one of the reasons, besides the pure fun of it, that painting is so good for me.  It is because I am approaching it with a beginner's mind.  That would be because I am a beginner.  There is something both terrifying and wonderful about doing something you don't have the vaguest clue how to do.  To engage in an activity as a beginner is to see the world anew.  And of course, many spiritual traditions, most notably Zen Buddhism, encourage approaching life with this mindset.

But I have been writing for so long it is nearly impossible for me to look at writing with fresh eyes.  I can look at each project with new eyes, and I can switch from fiction to non-fiction and back again to keep things lively.  But I write so much and so often that it is difficult to remember the terror of facing the blank page and not knowing what to do.

Because last night I faced a blank canvas and I didn't know what to do.

It was paralyzing at first.  And I turned to my usual comforts–words. I looked through the books on painting I'd gotten for Christmas, ignoring the images in favor of reading the text.  Not finding exact, step-by-step instructions for how to begin, which was what I was seeking, I moved on, to the pamphlet that came with the acrylics.  Um, not much of use there, either.

Finally there was nothing to do but just begin.  So I squirted some paint on the little round plastic palette and and started covering one of the canvases.  (You can see in the photo above that I started on very small canvases.) And it was wonderful.  Once I had the whole thing covered in blue, I experimented with adding dabs of red.  And then I decided that what I really wanted to paint was a flower.  And so I worked on that for the rest of the night.

And I was happy.  Because it was fun.  And it didn't matter what the end result looked like.  It didn't matter that I'm not an accomplished painter (you can see proof of that in the photo above).  What mattered was the process and the joy I felt in doing it.  What mattered was that even though I'm not good now, I can see that I'll only continue to improve.

So here's what I've gleaned from my first experience with painting.

1. Tools for the Journey–There are none.  You just have to jump in.  You just have to do it.  You just have to pick up the brush and dip it in the paint, or put your hands to the keyboard and begin writing.  That really is all that is important.

2.  Process trumps Product–I struggle with this.  Any professional writer does.  The trick is to create good work that will hold up in the marketplace while still allowing yourself to get lost in the flow.  But painting reminds me that ultimately it is all about the process.

3.   You Can Always Improve–And you will if you continue to practice painting or writing or any creative project.  The one thing I loved about my son playing video games as a boy was that it taught him he could improve his skills if he just kept at it.

4. It is Worth It–It's worth it to find the time, to carry the card table up from the basement, to get organized, to take the first flying leap onto the canvas.  Because painting is fun, and transporting, and absorbing, just like writing. 

5.  Start Small–Note the very small canvases above.  Take one little scene from your writing at a time, or focus on one sentence.  Then write another, and another…

So now I'm going to take these insights and apply them to writing.  I'm going to attempt to be a beginner again, every time I return to the page.  I think it is another path to writing abundance.

How about you?  Any experiences with being a beginner?

**And remember, if you struggle so much with getting words on the page that you need help, I offer writing coaching and mentoring.  Just email me–the address is at the top of the page.

It is Always the Story

Copyspace_space_copy_246205_l Yesterday, I wrote about watching the Winter Olympics and how Bode Miller winning gold inspired thoughts about stepping up to the plate.  

Today the subject is story.

My daughter and I were watching the men's ski cross races on Sunday night.  This is a relatively new sport, and, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it is the first time in the Olympics.  It doesn't have a lot of stars that we're yet familiar with and so NBC chose to focus on one of the Canadian men.  (I know, shocking–NBC actually featured an athlete who wasn't from the US!  It was because he grew up in Colorado but had a Canadian father.)

So, here's this new sport, which is mildly interesting, and a bunch of guys participating that nobody's ever heard of. I'm  watching with half an eye, catching up on emails and blog comments at the same time.  But then there's a slow moment in the action and NBC decides to run the pre-taped story about said Canadian, whose name is Chris Del Bosco.

And suddenly I'm paying attention.  Because this guy has a story.  From the time he was a wee boy, he showed a talent for skiing and racing.  But then, as a teen, he started drinking and doing drugs.  And suddenly he wasn't winning races anymore.  Pretty soon he wasn't even racing anymore.  This dark period ended with him so wasted one night that he fell into an ice-cold stream and if a passer-by hadn't found him he would have frozen to death.

He's bombed out of any ability to compete here in the states, but through a synchronicity, he heard that the Canadians were looking for guys to ski on the ski cross team.  And suddenly a new career opens up.  He's getting a second chance to do what he loves. 

And I'm rooting for him.  Suddenly, I'm completely and totally paying attention.  The computer is closed and set aside.  My eyes are glued to the TV.  Del Bosco easily qualifies for the finals.  I so desperately want him to win!  Alas, it is not to be.  Though it looks like he is coming from behind to win a medal, on one of the last bumps (jumps? not sure what they are called in this sport) he overestimates and ends up crashing.  

The point is this: I cared about Chris Del Bosco because NBC told me a story about him. Not only that, but the story they told had all the elements of a classic–amazing talent that, lots of conflict, the opportunity for a second chance.  I was right there with him because of it.

The thing I probably suggest the most when reading a client's manuscript is to take out narrative and put in more scene.  Scenes dramatize your writing and make it come alive.  A scene shows us something, instead of telling.  It presents a story. 

We respond to story because it is hard-wired into us.  From the beginning of human time, we've told stories to each other.  And still we do, whether on TV, a movie, or through reading a book.  The power of story is so powerful that it has become a cliche.

But sometimes cliches are good.  Because, ultimately, it always comes down to story.

What about you?  How do you use the power of story?  What have you gleaned from watching the Olympics? Or have you been ignoring them completely?

Stepping Up

Stop the presses for this news flash.Turin_torino_antmoose_968007_l

I've been watching TV.

Specifically, the Olympics.  I often write about what a time waster watching TV is and I truly don't watch much of it myself, except, for reasons inexplicable to me, American Idol.  But one thing I love is the Olympics, specifically, the winter Olympics.  So I've been finishing my work in time to sit in front of the TV every night.  (Okay, sometimes I take my computer with me to sit in front of the TV, but still.)

Last night, I was struck by two different athletes and what their efforts represented to me on a larger scale.  And, of course, as with all things, I saw an immediate relationship to writing.  Because, well, when you are a writer, everything relates to writing.  So, today, I'm going to write about my first observation.  The second will be covered in a post tomorrow. So here goes:

Stepping Up to the Plate

At the 2006 Torino Olympics, Bode Miller was an ass.  He stayed up all night partying, talked trash, didn't really seem to take the whole thing seriously.  He had a sense of entitlement, as if he were the anointed one.  Bode fell victim to hubris, otherwise known as, pride goeth before a fall.  Because he bombed out and didn't do nearly as well and predicted. Going in, they said he might win up to five golds.  He won none.

Flash forward four years and Bode is a changed man.  He's been training hard, speaks humbly in interviews.  He seems to get how amazing and cool it is that he's at the Olympics this time.  This is a man who, for whatever reasons, has been given a second chance and he knows it.   And this Olympics, he's a winner.  First he won bronze, then silver, and last night, a gold medal for the men's combined skiing.

I think he's an example of what happens when we put all our crap aside and step it up.  Instead of letting fear rule us, we meditate for a few minutes before our writing session, so that we can bring our full selves to the page.  We take the chance on a speaking engagement, even though we're afraid of talking in public, or we go back and edit our novel one more time because we know in our hearts that we really need to.

Stepping up to the plate is doing whatever it takes.  When I was at my first residency while studying for my MFA, we had an assignment to write a poem based on one of the pieces of art we'd seen on a visit to the museum.  I'd written a rough draft of a poem that was okay, but not quite there yet.  I mentioned my struggles to the program head, Sena Jeter Naslund, and she said to me, in her charming southern way, "Why, Charlotte, why don't you just go work on it some more, then?"

Oh.

So, while everyone else went off to lunch, I went to the computer lab and worked on it some more.  And it turned out to be one of the poems which was read in public as a successful example.  I'll never forget that the poetry mentor wrote on it, "This is a poem!"

Stepping up to the plate is that simple and that hard.

**Photo courtesy of antmoose, via Flickr and Everystockphoto.

True Confessions, or Coaching Myself

I'm struggling.Book_work_teacher_238276_l

I'm having a hard time writing my next novel.

There, I've admitted it. 

I, the one who constantly harangues you to write every day, to keep the momentum going by checking into your project on a daily basis, I, that very same person, am having a hell of a time working on my novel every day.

Don't get me wrong–I am writing every day.  I get up every morning and write in my journal, I work on contracted projects, and I write a blog post every day.  Oh, and I write stuff on social media, though I'm not sure we can say that really counts. 

So I'm writing every day, and writing tons.  It is just that I'm not doing what I love to do, what I feel I've been set on this earth to do (well, partially, because coaching writers and blogging about writing is definitely part of my mission).  I'm ignoring my true love.  And we all know what that means.

My true love is dying.

And that makes it even harder, because if a project feels like it is dying, than who wants to spend time with it?  And so the vicious cycle gets established.

It is not that I don't have time for it.  At great effort, I have carved out a bit.  But during that time I am not writing.  Instead, I am re-reading the first chapter repeatedly, telling myself how very brilliant it is.  I make lists of things I should do for the novel (like, um, write it).  I jot notes about potential scenes.  Fill out character dossiers.  Convince myself I need to go sit on my office chair and take a nap meditate about the overall arc of the plot.

All this is great, but it is not writing.

Yesterday, after reading–yet again–the first chapter, I realized it is because I'm second-guessing myself.  I'm worrying about whether the work is good, whether than trusting the process.  Of course it isn't good, it is a first draft!  All it needs to be is enough to hang a story on.  And it is.

So I've decided what is in order are some words from the wise, ie., me.  It is time to coach myself with some tough love.  Here's what I've come up with for my marching orders:

1.  Remind Myself.  Of what?  That the last novel was once a first draft, too.  Yesterday I scrounged around and found the original scene list I had written for Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.  Shocking how different it was.  Oh, the seeds of the finished novel were all there, but the original scenes I had laid out were very, very different.  I found this comforting, because it reminded me that the process does, indeed, work.

2.  Use the Time.  What's been happening is that I get to my allotted novel-writing time and when something doesn't happen immediately, I feel guilty for wasting my time and make myself go spend it more gainfully.  But creativity takes time, and when working with the large span of the novel, this is especially true.  So I'm using the time I've set aside every day, even if it means staring off into space while thinking deep thoughts about the novel.

3.  Turn off the Internet.  Yeah, right.  I hear this works well, but I wouldn't know, because it is not something I am constitutionally capable of achieving. 

4.  Short assignments.  The novelist Darnell Arnoult talks about this.  She advocates giving yourself short assignments about your characters or points in the plot.  Stuff you can write in 15 minutes, but which will help you gain understanding of the project.  I know this works because one of my short assignments made it into that brilliant first chapter which I have read and admired so many times.

So those are what I'm working with.  Anybody want to take a turn coaching the coach and tell me what works for you?

Talking Your Story To Death

Mouth_surprising_open_268839_l Have you ever talked about a story so much that you then could never write it?

I have. 

When I was a newer writer, this happened to me several times.  Sometimes it was in one-on-one conversation, but mostly it happened in a critique group I attended.  I loved that critique group, adored the people in it and enjoyed our weekly meetings.  But, looking back, I think we just talked too damn much.  I was working on a novel then and I never was able to pull it together, though I got about three-quarters of the way through.

Talking about it took all the energy from it.

Of course, I now belong to a different critique group which is no less amazing.  And we talk and talk and talk, too.  So what's the difference?  Why was I able to finish my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and feel satisfied with it, whereas before I couldn't? 

Perhaps it has to do with confidence.  In this group, when people talk about something that isn't working, I'm able to take that criticism and figure out my own solution to it.  Before, I'd always do exactly what the others' said, even when I knew it wasn't right, because I lacked confidence.  As I ponder this, it also has to do with confidence in the collective wisdom of the group, as well as myself.

Still, I've learned not to talk too much about my work.  When people ask me what the novel is about, I give them a vague answer.  Now that is it finished, I don't have to be quite so protective.  In truth, I need to be less protective and figure out a decent elevator pitch, so I don't find myself opening and closing my mouth and saying, "Um, well, it's about this woman….and she goes to LA…and…" By that time my questioner is so bored she is walking away from me.

But when a work is in progress, I find it beneficial to me not to talk about it too much.  I've finally learned just to tell people that.  When they ask me what my novel that I'm working on is about, I answer, "I've learned not to talk too much about my work while it is in progress, because it sucks the life out of it."

People generally respect this, perhaps because it sounds very writerly and somewhat mysterious.  Well, the creative process is mysterious, isn't it?  And we learn what works for each of us only by engaging in it.

I'm a bit in awe of all the writers on Twitter who happily gab away about their works in progress.  They even tweet lines from their writing and others comment.  Laurell K. Hamilton, best-selling author of the Anita Blake series, tweets constantly about her characters and what they are doing.  Part of me wishes I could do this because it seems so natural to all of them.  But I've learned that I can't.

So, do tell.  What works for you?  Do you talk about your writing in progress?  Have you ever talked a book to death?

Using Intution In Your Writing

I'm reading a book that I'm going to review here as part of a blog tour for the author.  The book is called Second Sight, by Judith Orloff, and it is a memoir/self-help book.  I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, because the review isn't slated until March 1st.  I'll be writing much more about it then, but I wanted to discuss one aspect of the book today.

That aspect is intuition.Brain01

Judith Orloff, you see, is an intuitive psychiatrist.  She's no slouch, either.  She's been in private practice forever and is faculty at UCLA.  She's one of the towering figures in the area of uniting intuition and traditional medicine.  I wanted to read the book because I was interested in learning new ways to utilize intuition in my writing.

How much do you use intuition in your writing?

If you'd asked me that last week, I would have answered, a ton.  Because I believe strongly that establishing a regular practice of connection–one form of intuition–is the bedrock of all writing and creativity.  But after reading and copying one of Orloff's techniques yesterday, I think I've been missing out.

Orloff talks about remote viewing, which is essentially tuning into someone or something far away.  I could go on and on about some of the fascinating stories she tells, but I will save that for the actual review. (Brief aside: my Welsh friend Derek and I experimented with remote viewing just for the fun of it, sending photos back and forth and trying to hone in on what they contained.  The results were sometimes astoundingly accurate.)  She used remote viewing to try to tune into her patients and so forth.

I decided to play around with the process  she used, and after wasting spending a few minutes attempting to tune into friends near and far, I applied the process to the characters I'm working with in a new novel project.

Note how I call it a new novel project?  I'm not convinced it is going to be a novel yet, so I'm referring to it by a euphemism.  "Novel project" sounds a bit less certain than novel.  Anyway, I don't know much about my characters yet.  And I need to.  So I did a bit of remote viewing on them.  (I'm actually not sure if you can remote view characters who don't actually exist, but you get the point.)

Wow.  The results were amazing.  A stream of new information appeared, all of it relevant and useful.  I tried it again this morning, and yet more came through.  So I thought I'd share the process with you.  And let me be clear that this is my take on what Orloff described, as I've not yet gotten to the part where she explains how to do it.

1.  Get comfy, have pen and paper handy, and close your eyes.

2.  Take a few deep centering breaths to quiet your mind.

3.  Repeat the name of the character to yourself, or ask a question pertaining to your writing.

4.  Pay close attention to what comes up.  It might be visual images or words.

5.  Be patient, it can sometimes take awhile.  Sitting with the question or name is key.

6.  Open your eyes and make notes about what you got.

That's it, that's all you have to do.  It is not woo-woo in the least, just a simple process to utilize intuition to access information about your writing.  So give it a try and let me know what happens.

How else do you use intuition in your writing?  I'd love to hear about it.