by Ellen Buikema
We experience the sixth sense every day.
Driving down the highway, you feel a persistent need to get off the road to take the long way home. Later in the day, you discover that you narrowly missed a horrific accident.
A parent working at home has a sudden feeling that something is wrong. Not knowing why, he runs down the stairs to find his child staring at the edge of a deep, uncovered sewer hole.
A patient opens a new bottle of medication and holds a pill in her hand. Something about it feels wrong, but since her doctor prescribed the medication, she takes it anyway, leading to a trip to the emergency room from an allergic reaction.
Intuition impacts us in a multitude of ways.
We are born with a sixth sense used to feel a situation or story. Some of us can better use this sense to perceive others’ emotions and pains. But you don’t need to be an empath to write using the sixth sense.
Writing fiction is a lot like finding a story that is happening somewhere, but you see and hear bits and pieces of it, or sometimes entire scenes, in your mind. We know some details of the story intuitively. The other information lurks about in the dark, waiting to be discovered.
We discover scenes, arranging events around our characters’ personalities and needs. That may be why our characters refuse to do things. I had a secondary character, a dad’s drinking buddy, who demanded a name change. I couldn’t get past a particular scene until he was given a new name. The struggle was real! Now he is Hugo.
I am not alone. According to Jim Davies’ article, “When Alice Walker was writing The Color Purple, not only did her characters seem to choose their own actions in the plot, but they regularly visited her and commented, sometimes unwelcomely, on Walker’s own life.”
It’s hard to hear your inner voice when you are distracted by the constant stream of information from the world via electronics, as well as other folks and situations clamoring for your attention. Get some “Me” time and listen to the silence.
Pay attention to those “gut feelings.” They tend to lead us in the right direction and out of harm’s way.
Is something catching your eye? Do you keep hearing the same tune? These may be signals from the universe, clues to move you further on your life’s journey.
We think we’ll remember the “lightbulb moments,” but we don’t always. Write them down. It’s horrible to have a fantastic plot twist and then lose it in the day’s whirlwind.
Your dreams serve you. They might be cryptic and strange sometimes, but they are informational. Dreams can open a whole new world full of interesting stories and opportunities.
When your subconscious mind comes out to play, in your dreaming state, your intuitive powers enter your awareness.
Writing your dreams may improve your memory in general.
Find tips for using a dream journal here.
“Where did I get the idea for Stuart Little and for Charlotte’s Web? Well, many years ago I went to bed one night in a railway sleeping car, and during the night I dreamed about a tiny boy who acted rather like a mouse. That’s how the story of Stuart Little got started.”
This dream birthed her first novel, Frankenstein.
“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.”
She wrote Interview with a Vampire while despairing over the loss of her five-year-old daughter’s death from leukemia.
“I dreamed my daughter, Michelle, was dying — that there was something wrong with her blood. It was horrifying. Several months afterward, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.”
King’s childhood nightmare that inspired Salem’s Lot.:
“It was a dream where I came up a hill and there was a gallows on top of this hill with birds all flying around it. There was a hang man there. He had died, not by having his neck broken, but by strangulation. I could tell because his face was all puffy and purple. And as I came close to him he opened his eyes, reached his hands out and grabbed me.”
Angelou, on dreaming in general:
“I do believe dreams have a function. I don’t see anything that has no function, not anything that has been created. I may not understand its function or be able to even use it, make it utile, but I believe it has a reason. The brain is so strange and wondrous in its mystery. I think it creates a number of things for itself — it creates launching pads and resting places — and it lets steam off and it reworks itself.”
Have you experienced the sixth sense in your life? How do you use it in your writing? Have any of your characters refused to do as you ask?
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Author, speaker, and former teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has written non-fiction for parents and a series of chapter books for children with stories encouraging the development of empathy—sprinkling humor wherever possible. Her Works In Progress are The Hobo Code, YA historical fiction and Crystal Memories, YA paranormal fantasy.
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