Want to Become a Successful Writer? Develop Your Intuition

There’s not a writer alive who doesn’t know what an Internal Editor is. He’s the guy in your head who sits back, half-loaded with gin, and snarks, “You’re not writing THAT are you?” and, “Wow…this character is your worst one yet!”

In other words, the guy is a total jerk-turd.

Left unchecked, an Internal Editor sends writers running for the delete key, and worse, into the “I’m not good enough/what was I thinking/time to lick stamps for a living” zone.

I hate it when people give in to the “you aren’t good enough” voice because a) great stories belong on the page, and b) the writer ends up licking stamps for the rest of his or her life. (And ever since I read a story about a woman who licked a stamp with cockroach eggs in the glue and a cut on her tongue turned it into a roach baby incubator (*screaming*), the whole licking-stamps-thing has seriously freaked me out.

So let’s all agree your future should involve writing, not roaches. Okay? Good. Now that we’re on the same page, it’s time to do something about that gin-soaked sot who likes to criticize everything you write. In other words…

Make friends with your Writer’s Intuition.

Writer’s intuition is the part of us that knows the story is there. It believes in us, and is utterly convinced (and rightly so) that this tale is OURS, and only WE can tell it properly.

When we first start to write, our Writer’s Intuition is on the quiet side. It’s kind of shy. But it ALWAYS has pompoms and is ready to supply us with encouragement whenever you-know-who gets rowdy and belligerent. But as low key as it might first appear, here’s a big secret about our gut instinct:

It can convert our Internal Editor into a powerful writing ally.

You see, our writer’s intuition is what the Internal Editor wants to be. If you strip away the insecurity of the IE, add a dash of patience, well, we have somebody who’s really trying to help us.

Once we’ve drafted our novel and are ready to revise the reality is, we NEED to know when we’ve slipped in a cliché, written a cardboard character, or if our pace is slower than wheelchair race at a retirement home.

We all need an Internal Editor…just not a toxic one.

So how do we develop our intuition and transform the Internal Editor from Foe to Friend?

1) Mute the Internal Editor during drafting. That is one time you should never, ever let IE nag you. Drafting is pure creation, so give yourself over to it. Allow yourself free rein to transcribe the essence of the story without worrying if the writing is brilliant or not. (Spoiler alert: it won’t be. And that’s okay!) Just write, and have fun.

2) Take the time to learn your craft. Books on writing can give you a huge leg up. Blog posts are bite-sized gems packed with advice. Join a writer’s group, get involved in forum discussions, and take a workshop for a spin. Dig for knowledge wherever it can be found because the more you know, the more you will come to trust your Writer’s Intuition. The resulting confidence puts YOU in charge, not the Internal Editor.

3) Give freely to others. There is no better way to tell good writing from bad than critiquing. When we focus on another person’s story, we can be more objective because it isn’t ours. This distance allows us to better recognize what works and what doesn’t, and these lessons stay with us and can be applied to our own writing.

4) Start LISTENING to your intuition…even when you don’t want to. You know, like when your gut says there’s a problem with a scene but you tell yourself the Agent or Editor will find the rest so dazzling they’ll not notice it. Yeah, THAT.

Look, we all feel the temptation to hit SEND rather than slog through another revision, but it’s important we don’t give in. If your instinct tells you there’s a problem, get some fresh opinions on your story and revise as needed. You only get one chance to impress, so always send out your best.

5) Pursue knowledge ALWAYS. As much as I would love to tell you that you will reach a magical point where your writing will be perfect, I can’t. None of us are experts, not even the most successful of authors. We can always strengthen our craft. Embrace learning and feed your passion to grow. Your writer’s intuition will grow with you!

Oh, and one more cool thing to note?

Well-honed writing intuition can free you from much of the emotional volatility you experience when someone is “dissecting your baby.”

A strong gut instinct for spotting good writing means you’re more confident. This allows you to disengage from negative emotions quicker because you can see the wisdom in the feedback you get (and sort good from bad). And because you’re in charge, the negative side of the Internal Editor fades, leaving you with a terrific partner that will help you create your best writing yet.

What do you do to improve your Writer’s Intuition? Let us know in the comments!


Image 1: Open Clipart-Vectors @ Pixabay
Image 2: My_Graphic_tablets @Pixabay
Image 3: Geralt @Pixabay










Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Critique Groups, Critiquing & Critiques, Focus, Motivational, Publishing and Self Publishing, Rejection, Revision and Editing, Uncategorized, Writer's Attitude, Writing Craft, Writing Groups. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Want to Become a Successful Writer? Develop Your Intuition

  1. So true!. The more I listen to my intuition the more my writing improves. Embrace the muse!

  2. Lisa Wilton says:

    I go through severe ups and downs internally. One day I feel great about a story, the next I think it’s stupid and no-one will ever read it.

    I haven’t had an all out row between those two voices just yet but it almost feels imminent.

    I loved this post. Lots of good advice and great ideas on how to harness the intuition. 🙂

  3. richard says:


    • Hi, Richard. The SCBWI Is a great organization for those writing children’s books. Their blog is full of information on how to write/publish children’s books: http://scbwi.blogspot.com. But the best advice I can give you in this regard is to get into a critique group with other children’s book writers. By far, they’ll have the best information on writing these books and ow to get them published. You can find a listing of those groups in your area at the SCBWI Website: https://www.scbwi.org/region-map/. Best of luck!

  4. Pingback: Flash Fiction Friday: Bedside Manner – Kaleiyah Prose

  5. Carla K. says:

    I find that learning to quiet my mind is a great way to let my internal voice speak to me. I’m learning how to meditate which is definitely not easy and I am taking baby steps in that regard. But I definitely agree that anyone–not just writers–have two voices inside them; their inner editor as well as their intuition. I think that the inner editor is much more loud and persistent than the “introverted” inner intuition. But that small voice is powerful if we give it permission to be heard.

    • Yes, I agree–no matter what our walk of life is, we all have that inner voice. And meditation is a great strategy. When we’re quiet we’re less emotional and better able to get to the WHY behind the criticism of a voice, and diffuse it, or steer it so that we get feedback, not negativity. Happy writing, Carla!

  6. Dwane Knott says:

    Great as always. My inner critiqued keeps rising while I am trying to edit. Nothing I have written is good enough and wants me to rewrite all the time. I haven’t gotten past page10 yet but pages 1 to 10 don’t resemble the original very much. I will see if I can bury him tomorrow when I take on the edit Again.

    • I found this happened to me a lot, which is one reason why I decided to try NaNoWriMo. Have you ever given it a spin? I found that to crank out those words in time, I really had to shut down my inner critic. And after I finished NaNo, I found it was much easier to keep him out of the first draft process!

  7. George Chalagonian says:

    Once I push daily trivia aside, fluidity has not yet been a problem for me. But I also believe that it’s the most productive writers that have the block issues.

  8. Peter Lewis Holmes says:

    I just write…you know it’s a bit like pulling a lever on a steam valve ..I pull it and the steam gushes out …that’s 1st draft creation for me.

  9. Great information thank you!

  10. Mary Van Everbroeck says:

    Hi Angela: Such an exhilarating Post! As a newbie in ‘learning mode’ of writing fiction, who has only written a couple of hundred words on a variety of story ideas, I certainly appreciate all the advice you offer! Thank you very much for sharing your expertise and wisdom! Sincerely, Mary

  11. :Donna says:

    Angela, you are SO right about the Internal Editor that can be toxic rather than helpful if given a voice before that first draft. And I, too, remember that whole roach/tongue thing. SO gross! I actually stopped licking envelopes before that, though, because when I became more aware of the things we ingest without thinking about it, the GLUE on envelopes was one 🙂

  12. Sara L. says:

    Wow. This is the second post I’ve read about writer’s intuition over the past two days (Colleen Story wrote a great one @ Writers In The Storm just recently). And both your post and hers feel like they’re directed at me… because I’ve been really struggling with my intuition / IE lately, to the point that it chewed up and spat out my confidence. 🙁 Thank goodness the writing retreat happened right after that, and it started the healing process by clearing my head and giving me time and emotional distance from all that.

    I still have a ways to go, especially now that I’m turning my attention away from a manuscript I’ve worked on for 4+ years and working on something new and very different (though in the same genre). Part of me is afraid I don’t have what it takes to do the new story justice and to avoid making the same (major) mistakes I made with the previous story. Yet the other part of me knows I have what it takes, and is urging me to move forward and apply what I’ve learned to the new story. What I need to start doing, I think, is using the advice you and Colleen offer in each of your posts so that I remind myself that my writer’s intuition is a) not the same voice as my IE, and b) my closest ally and confidante throughout the writing process. It’s going to take time, but I need to make that effort in order to do the necessary research and complete this new draft.

    Thanks, Angela. 🙂

    • Yes I saw that post yesterday–we were both on the same page on that one!

      I am glad that you were able to get away for a week to get some perspective. I know how much that can help. And moving on from one book to another is always hard, but part of our growth too. 🙂

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