No Plot, No Direction, No Way

“Acknowledge your creativity and genius. The qualities of creativity and genius are within you, awaiting your decision to match up with the power of intuition.” Wayne Dyer

Today I hit a speed bump. I had cruised down the mountain on I 70 here in Colorado to set up shop in the local Barnes and Nobel with a whole lot of other writers, bloggers, emailers, and avid readers to plug into the Morphic Field and write. I am a big believer in Rupert Sheldrake’s contribution to understanding energy fields and how we are affected by them.

“There is mounting evidence that as more and more people learn or do something it becomes easier for others to learn or do it. Sheldrake postulates that there is a field of habitual patterns that links all people, which influences and is influenced by the habits of all people. The more people have a habit pattern — whether of knowledge, perception or behavior — the stronger it is in the field, and the more easily it replicates in a new person. In fact, it seems such fields exist for other entities too — for birds, plants, even crystals. Sheldrake named these phenomena morphogenetic fields – fields, which influence the pattern or form of things.

I noticed a long time ago that hunkering down in my office at home, alone, and focused on a writing project did not yield the same inspiration, excitement or focus as when I was in a group of people, all somewhat focused on the same thing. So, Barnes and Nobel became that place that I went to be in a “writing field”. I found that I was faster, clearer and more energized when in a field of energy conducive to writing.

I also found that when I had all the alone time I can tolerate, am surrounded by my cat, my tea, my notes and the best music in the world, all of a sudden a million things break in on the process: The laundry buzzer goes off, the phone rings, I remember I haven’t paid that long overdue bill, and the energy it takes to stave off the urge to get up and fold the laundry or make that call, sucks the life right out of my writing moment.

Well, today I got in the car and here I am at Barnes and Nobel. There are at least 15 other people pounding away on their computers and another hundred focused on “words” in books, on Kindle, and there is a great atmosphere of story permeating this teaming box store. I should have just plunged right into the middle of writing with no effort. But alas! I sit here starring at my screen. The muse is nowhere to be found, the words did not tumble out as they always do, I feel bored and uninspired. Holy Moly! I am not accustomed to this feeling of having, nothing to say.

So, I sat for a while and just watched my surroundings. I got a cup of tea, I walked throughout the stacks and stacks of best sellers, and unfathomably mediocre books that someone is buying. Nothing clicked. So, I waited. And waited. This was not an acceptable state to be in and my mind was in a huff. “It’s Sunday for Christ Sake, is my muse on vacation or preparing for the Super Bowl…WTF?”

Then, I just relaxed my churned up state and posed an inner question: “What does my intuition say about this?” Intuition? Intuition is the most powerful voice we have as writers, as crazed journalers, as storytellers. Intuition cuts through the bullshit of how we think we should write or how we think the story should go and allows the story to tell itself.

Deep breath.

There is so much anxiety for the writer to tell the story “right”, to do justice to the idea that set us on the course of writing in the first place. Intuition will tell you that there is absolutely no “right” way, when it comes to storytelling.

I define intuition as the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it, and, Sophy Burnham, bestselling author of The Art of Intuition, tells The Huffington Post. “It’s different from thinking, it’s different from logic or analysis … It’s a knowing without knowing.”

Our intuition is always there waiting for the mind to relax, whether we’re aware of it or not. As HuffPost President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington puts it in her upcoming book Thrive:

“Even when we’re not at a fork in the road, wondering what to do and trying to hear that inner voice, our intuition is always there, always reading the situation, always trying to steer us the right way. But can we hear it? Are we paying attention? Are we living a life that keeps the pathway to our intuition unblocked? Feeding and nurturing our intuition, and living a life in which we can make use of its wisdom, is one key way to thrive, at work and in life.” And, as a writer.

So, I switched fields. I pulled my energy up and out of the bookstore field and went deep inside. I found a new field to plant my awareness in. This is the field of openness and allowing a story, a moment, a paragraph or poem to float up from the collective field and root in your psyche. Then the ride begins. You put pen to paper, you open a new Word Doc and allow this all-pervasive, ever present energy of creativity to flow through you and take you somewhere unexpected with no map, no direction and no plot.

This surrendering to that which is not the mind will transform you as a writer, a storyteller and as a person.

Stephen King believes in intuition and does not believe in outlines. And he doesn’t much like plot either.

He has this cosmic belief “that stories are like fossils that already exist somewhere, buried deep in the earth, in a lost canyon or maybe in your backyard, and it is the writer’s job to unearth it.” Says Andrea Meyer.

“The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible,” he says. “No matter how good you are, no matter how much experience you have, it’s probably impossible to get the entire fossil out of the ground without a few breaks and losses. To get even most of it, the shovel must give way to more delicate tools: air-hose, palm pick, perhaps even a toothbrush. Plot is a far bigger tool, the writer’s jackhammer. You can liberate a fossil from hard ground with a jackhammer, no argument there, but you know as well as I do that the jackhammer is going to break almost as much stuff as it liberates. It’s clumsy, mechanical, anti-creative. Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice.”, says Stephen King.

So, no matter where you write, what you write, there is the most valuable alliance in the world available all of the time, no matter what your story is: Intuition IS the Muse. Intuition will never ever steer you in a wrong direction but it will most certainly steer you in a direction that may be very unexpected.

(Multi-media artwork by Gerri Proulx)









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