Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do you have the Guts?

Instinct, premonitions, feelings, going with your gut - whatever you choose to call it, I believe it's typically right. It's taken me some time, but over the years I've gotten better about trusting mine. After a pretty big decision in my life, taking a road less traveled, showed me that sometimes your instinct can be spot on.

Every once in awhile though, for no particular reason, we second guess that instinct.We balk against it, tell ourselves that we know better than it does. We tell that voice in our head, heart, gut, (wherever you hear yours), to pipe down and take a backseat. Intuition is a funny thing though. If it knows that it's right, it'll do whatever it needs to get your attention, even using someone else if it has to.

If you've read any of my posts then you know that I'm a struggling, undercover, frustrated, writer. The story I began with was a small idea, which spread over time into something bigger. It was one big, sprawling story that kept getting more characters and more story. It was overwhelming and I wasn't sure where the true beginning was. In discussing it with my writing cohort one day, she said "it sounds like you could make a series of books out of that." 

Such a simple suggestion and yet it made perfect sense. So I laid out a rough outline for each of the books and for the last couple of months I've worked on the first one. It went well enough, but I've struggled with some things along the way. For instance, the main character is a young girl, but it's not a book for kids, which means I'm not sure exactly how to figure out the target audience. In addition, the genre isn't that clear cut. It's fiction, with supernatural and spiritual elements. Think Jodi Piccoult meets Alice Hoffman (okay, at least in my dreams).

So anyway....those were both issues I'd been struggling with, but the story was at least moving along. Each time I sat down to write, the words flowed quickly, faster sometimes than I could even keep up with. Then in the middle of all the writing a story idea popped into my head one day. Now I'm not one for giving away the whole story, but the idea was something to do with death and a second chance. Oh and throw in a chain smoking, hard drinking, guardian angel with a soft spot for stilettos. So I jotted down the idea in my idea notebook and put it aside for later, like after the three other books are written later. It's not the first time I've come up with a random story idea while writing something else and I think most writers would say it happens to them too and it's perfectly normal. 

So what wasn't normal about this? The fact that almost daily snippets of this story would come to me, while at the same time I seemed to stall out on the story I was writing. I could see the ending of the story, but somewhere in the middle things had started to meander. I was having a really hard time keeping the story together and would find myself staring at a blank page, or worse. I'd write two pages, before deciding it was all wrong and deleting it. All the while, the new story idea kept coming back to me. I had the complete opening scene of the book, character names, a turning point to the story and even a tentative ending. Each time, I would sigh, stop what I was doing and jot the idea down somewhere. Sometimes when this happened the voices in my head intuition would start to nag at me..... 

"Hey, why don't you write some of the actual story since it's coming to you so clearly?"

And I'd say to the .....intuition.....

"Hey, how about you keep quiet? I don't have the time right now. I have to finish the other book first. I'm just writing the ideas down so I won't forget them."

And intuition would say......

"Well you were really excited about this idea and I just thought might like to try -"

I'd cut Intuition off with......

"Shut it will ya? Seriously there are rules to this writing thing you know? I need to finish one before I can move onto something else."

Then Intuition would shoot back in sarcastic voice....

"You ask me it seems like you haven't been doing much writing at all...."

(Can't print response to intuition.)

So I kept on struggling with my story, while choosing to ignore my gut. Then one day my writing cohort told me about a new story idea she was working on and out of no where I blurted out that I knew what my next story would be about. I rambled off the whole idea (not sure it made any sense) and I even shoved my notebook at her so she could read the hastily scribbled opening scene. I was more excited to share the story than even I knew! She liked it and even better she laughed at everything I was hoping she would laugh at. Then I explained how the story kept coming to me and I was really excited about it, but really needed to finish the other one first. She looked at me and said 

"Why don't you take a break and start on this one for awhile?" (Cue heavens parting and trumpets blaring.)

Writing cohort has written two full stories, gone through the whole query process, been offered representation, I trust her knowledge of writing "rules." What I took from her simple statement was 


So I started writing my new story that very night. I'm a couple of chapters in and still going strong. When I do write, I can barely keep up with the ideas. I'm also loving my characters and connecting with them in a way that I wasn't with the other story. Now, I'm not saying that I've given up on my first idea - not at all.I think what I need is more experience with writing, more practice, more confidence that I know what I'm doing, before taking on such a big project. I need to take a step back from the first one to see it with fresher eyes and I'm sure when the time is right the remainder of the story will come to me just when I need it.

If my instinct (voices) were telling me to write this other story, then I should listen to it. No question. So why then, when I had trusted my instinct so fully in the past, had I fought it every step of the way? Beats the heck out of me.What I can tell you is that my instinct didn't give up on trying to get through to me, even if it meant channeling itself through someone else. 

Is your instinct trying to tell you something? Is that message coming from someone Else's voice?

Stop and take a listen will ya?



  1. I'm a firm believer in trusting my gut (instinct). I've never been one to believe everything has rules, which is helpful. With about 4 books in progress at once I just go with the one that's screaming the loudest. It works. I think.
    Sometimes you need to get away from it when it becomes a chore. Don't you agree?

  2. I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who has more than one project going at a time! :) It's hard sometimes because they're all like do you favor one over the other? :)