A friend of mine has a finely tuned sense of intuition.  It shapes the way she lives.  Whether it’s the solution to a maths problem, the conclusion of an essay, a decision or a process to be implemented, my friend has a glimmer, an inspired glimpse of how things should be.  She works out the steps needed to make that thing possible.  Then she moves towards it, aware of potential twists and turns and necessary re-tracings, being sure at each point to test the rightness of the path she is taking.

I find this inspirational on so many levels: a model for life, for effective relationships, for work, play, and creativity.

My own intuitive followings, when they happen, occur most frequently in the mornings.  It’s the time I feel closest to my unconscious self, on the threshold between sleep and wakefulness.   It’s no coincidence, I think, that in The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advocates the use of freeform journal writing in the morning, first thing, before the conscious mind has woken up.   These ‘morning pages’ – or any regular journaling habit – establish discipline and routine.  But more importantly, this process enables us to listen to ourselves.  Containing, perhaps, exhilaration, pain, surprise, the creative engagement speaks our emotional journey.  But the writing itself – the fact that we do it – can also provide us with a map, a way of testing our route, of assessing how far we’ve come from that vision of ourselves or our creative project.  The writing helps us see, at each twist and turn, whether we’re following the power of the initial intention that set us off on the journey in the first place.

And, of course, the writing can foster awareness of what the journey needs to be.

When it comes to fiction, I try to listen for those followings by entering the dream world of the story.  I’m sure I’m not alone in finding this process easier when in motion or on an actual journey: running, walking, musing on a train.  Then I plan each scene quickly, measuring the framework against my first impulse, usually having a sense of where it should end.  As I write, I return often to that intuitive following, but always remaining open to how things might need to be altered, changes in direction, a new design.  In this sense I’m more architect than journeyman, more builder than traveller.  For me, writing is a spirit level.  The key is to be true to the bubble that floats in the small, clear window in the centre – the absolute rightness of the original idea.

What tools, for you, are most effective in life and creativity?  I’d love to hear.

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