While I most often get clients and students who are well aware that they have problems writing, they don’t often know that the reason for this is because they are an intuitive writer. Intuitive writers work in a way that deviates from the norm, and it’s this deviation that can cause a lot of misunderstanding and pain to the writer who is struggling, because intuitive writers tend to get blocked and shut down when they try to use mainstream writing methods.
I put together a basic list of 5 clear signs that indicate you are most likely an intuitive writer. If you hit every one of the items on this list, then chances are high that you’re going to have writing problems if you try to use mainstream methods.
#1 — You Have Trouble Plotting
Most intuitive writers feel stifled by using an outline, and even just the act of attempting to create an outline for their story can halt them in their creative tracks. This is because intuitive writers are naturally spontaneous when writing the first draft and they need quite a bit of freedom to let the story unfold how it will.
Even for those intuitive writers who use outlines, they tend to write the story and then adjust the outline to fit what they’ve written, as they go. If you’re a writer who feels a sense of heaviness or confusion come in when you start trying to outline your story, or the idea for the story seems to fizzle out altogether, it’s likely that you’re an intuitive writer and trying to use an outline is hindering you more than it’s helping you.
#2 — You Are an Empath
People who identify as empaths know that we receive emotional energy from other people, and if that emotional energy is intense or aggressive, it can feel like we’re being bombarded. People who are empaths are also highly intuitive. The boundaries of our energy field are more porous than the average person’s field, so we’re able to easily pick up on the emotional energy of others and tune in to the energetic information that gives us a read on their current state of being.
If you’re a writer, this also applies to your relationship with your characters. You will often experience an incredibly strong connection with your characters and feel all the intensity of that, just as if you were in an extremely intimate relationship with a person in real life. You may also pick up your characters’ energy and carry that with you, and also need to cleanse and release that energy just as you would with real-world relationships.
#3 — You See Visions and/or You Hear Voices
For intuitive writers, writing is not purely a mental exercise. We don’t “make up” a story in our mind and then decide how it should go, and if we try to do things this way, we end up with a story that feels flat, empty, or lifeless to us, and we usually either don’t finish it, or abandon it once we’ve forced ourselves to the very end.
In contrast, when we’re in our flow state, we usually experience the story coming in as a series of vivid images, like we’re watching a movie in our mind, or as the voice of one of the characters, either talking directly to us, or talking out loud and telling the story, which we then take down almost as if we were taking dictation. This tendency toward seeing visions and hearing voices can make us feel crazy sometimes, but we’re actually just intuitive, and for an intuitive person this is quite normal.
Once we can embrace the way our stories “come in” we can open our creative channel wider and handle the flow of characters and events that want to show or tell about themselves to the writer. It’s when we’re still telling ourselves that we’re weird, crazy, or that this isn’t really happening that we remain blocked to all the creative goodness that is waiting for us on the other side.
#4 — Your Story Model Looks Like a Web Instead of a Straight Line
Most mainstream methods on how to do ANYTHING use the form of a straight line as a teaching model. First you do A, and then you do B, and then you do C. But intuitive people just don’t work like this. Not only does the straight-line model bore us, but it’s not expansive enough to include everything we need to see and work with when we’re creating something. And if we try to stick to the straight-line model in anything we do, you’ll soon find us angry and resentful, or despairing and in tears. There’s almost nothing more frustrating for an intuitive person than to be told to stick to a straight line.
Instead of a straight line, intuitive people do the best when we can build a web, and this goes for intuitive writers too. Instead of making lists of character traits or outlining the order of chapters, or plotting a clear-cut story arc, we need to create our own three-dimensional metaphysical model that allows for a lot of movement, instability, spontaneity, and play. This is also why it’s essential for intuitive writers to find other intuitive writers when they’re looking for feedback, because non-intuitive people won’t understand the web model, it will only confuse them.
#5 — You Work in Cycles and Seasons
Intuitive people don’t do well when we’re forced to be productive every day on a schedule, even though many of us have spent years berating ourselves to do exactly that out of a sense of shame and self-consciousness about our natural work style. In our society, constantly racing toward an imaginary finish line is how most people find an illusory sense of meaning in their lives, and to question if the finish line can ever be reached (because it always seems to keep moving) or if this is all there is to life tends to earn the intuitive person judgmental comments or funny looks from family and friends.
So, many of us are well-accustomed to pushing and forcing ourselves to meet goals and get things done, and this includes writing as well. Except, this really doesn’t work for intuitive writers. We don’t work on a man-made schedule. Instead, we do best when we’re tuned into the seasons of the earth and the rhythms of nature that flow through each day. That might mean that we take periods of time away from writing, and that sometimes we’re moving more slowly than at others. If you’ve embraced yourself as an intuitive writer and you’re working according to your natural rhythm, it’s all good. You won’t feel the need to fight or resist your own creative process when it moves in and out of your daily life like the tide.
If any or all of these 5 signs detailed above resonate with you, then you are probably an intuitive writer. The best thing you can do for yourself creatively is to begin to learn more about your own intuition, and to begin to observe yourself and take note of your own creative cycles. Once you shift into fully accepting who you are and how you work, your writing life will get much easier.
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Intuitive Writing, a six-step online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with traditional writing methods. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book on creative marketing for INFJ and INFP writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers.