Writing: The sixth sense and how to tap into it

It’s 6 am on a Saturday and my muse thought now was the best time to have a conversation.

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I have not written in a while. I go several periods where I don’t write for a while.There are several writers who hold tight to the notion that we must write everyday to be real writers. This Salon article quotes an acclaimed writer saying such. I had several thoughts just from the heading- why is there always this pressure on writers to write now, to write today or to write everyday? My issue is decidedly really with the last one. Some ideas are best put down as soon as possible and sometimes we have deadlines and apparently there is something to the thought that it’s better to put down the garbage words you have now on paper so you can clear the way for the good stuff later. But there is also value in taking breaks, in mulling over before putting words to paper. For some, following a story means moving away from the writing  desk and letting that story lead them to the final destination before documenting the journey.”Write when you’re ready to write”- Daniel José Older does a great job of leading a conversation about the harms of feeling like you have to write everyday. The conversation is Storify-ed here and I think it’s an important one for all writers to see.

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The problem with feeling like you have to write everyday is that it then becomes more about quantity than quality. You may have more options for what you can use to create a story but then you also have more potentially meaningless material to sift through.Focus and direction are key to great storytelling and if you’re just writing for the sake of writing and not listening in the moments when your mind and body call out for you to take a break, walk away and the return to the drawing board with new eyes, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

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How can writing be a sixth sense? How can it be a sense at all? Writing is something you do, consciously. You have to practice writing, it doesn’t come naturally and not everyone does it. I could argue against all those points but I’d only be doing it to play devil’s advocate. The sixth sense refers to one’s ability to perceive the subtle-dimension or the unseen world. Well, who sees it better than writers. The question then is not if we can actually see the other side, because as writers, we create it! We create guides to these worlds, make them seem scarier or safer than they really are.  We don’t merely see the other side- we construct (and deconstruct) all the sides. Next to oral storytellers (which many writers are as well), writers are the tour guides to parallel universes, the conduits through which we connect to our past and to our future. When we read stories about our pasts (beyond history books) from our ancestors or anyone from the past actually and we connect with them, we are on some level, existing at the same time as their realities as described by their words. Being able to tap into other worlds and sometimes join them to ours and to bring that experience to others, is nothing short of magical.

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Writing is a skill, one you must hone. Some are better naturally and to be great, you must take your writing dog for a walk or he’ll become lame (come on, puns!). But you must allow for your dog to get rest, to get fed and hydrated, you must allow for your dog to play. Take time to develop your sixth sense and know that sometimes this may mean taking time from it.

And if you do subscribe to the school of writing everyday, here is a not-much-pressure post by Jeff Goins about why it can be beneficial with some practical and helpful links at the end.

Thank you so much for reading 🙂

Until next post!

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