Writing on Intuition

I wrote about The Firebird the other day, one of my short stories that I have out on submission. It will always be one my favorites due to the process, which for me was filled with magic. I often write using intuition—kind of a 'write now, think later' method. It comes from all my years of songwriting. When I wrote lyrics, I'd often have the music first with a feel of what kind of words I'd want with each line of music. There were certain vowels I wanted here or there; if they hadn't come yet, I'd hole myself up in a room with a candle and a cup of hot tea and pace, play guitar, pace, play guitar until the words materialized. I'd call on angels to help if I was in a bad spot.

With fiction I pretty much employ the same method, though there is no music to follow, it's based on an idea. My sentences are structured much like song lyrics—I tend to alternate short to long to keep a good flow just as I would in music.

Intuition is the by-product of me letting go and just allowing the story to flow to the end. I'm not aware of any themes; nothing is forced. It wasn't until the end that I noticed I had themes: Loretta's weight vs the lightness of a bird in flight. The red of the flower vs the cardinal she sees in the park. The drink she chooses is Old Crow—I mean, I didn't even think about that one, it just happened. Oh! The song on the jukebox is a Peggy Lee song, you can guess which one! Didn't mean to do that either. It's strange to look back and see that these things happened, you know? I can't even take credit for them, because I was just stringing words, one after the other until the story had been told. Intuition is humbling and makes me feel blessed.


  1. Both my writing and painting usually comes under the 'Stream of Consciousness' tag. One can always go back and alter, but rarely will one ever again have those continuous thoughts. Write now, think later, is GOOD.

  2. Wow! I had NO idea you were a songwriter! I am too! That's awesome. You and I both have the same ideas about writing. It seems to stem from the rhythm of the words, which I know for me, definitely comes from my background in music. My words have to sing too. In everything I write. Hmmm, I should be visiting you a little more often!

  3. I didn't know that about you either--how cool!

  4. You're so talented!

    For first drafts, I do the same thing. Or I try too, anyway!

  5. Amy - I think that's a good way to write too. I usually have a notebook and scribble little bits as they come to me and then sort them out afterwards!

  6. Talli- It's probably way more fun that way as well. We all know we're going to spend the rest of our lives editing no matter what, so might as well enjoy the process!

    molly- I like the notebook idea. There's something really nice about having one around.

  7. I love the comparisons between songwriting and fiction. It's that attention to detail, to the right flow and rhythm, to even vowel sounds, that makes a story sing.

  8. Interesting writing process! The best themes are the ones that a natural and emanate organically from the story. Very cool!


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