Peggy Bechko: You’re a writer? Do you trust your gut?

Positive-Gut-Feelingby Peggy Bechko

You’re a writer? Do you trust your gut?


It’s amazing how many writers might have day jobs and trust their guts to make the right decisions there, but when they get to their writing desk, suddenly everything has to be planned out just so and there can be no deviation.

Okay, okay, stop. Just stop and think. Most of us have much better gut reactions than we think we have and the key here is learning to trust those reactions.

How often, when you’ve been writing that carefully crafted story, have you had a nagging little voice telling you that it just isn’t right. Something isn’t clicking. You need to go back and/or change the direction you’ve chosen to move forward. How often do you set that little nagging voice aside, rationalizing, telling yourself you have it all worked out.

Or maybe you’re rereading a script or a manuscript and everything seems to be hitting on key, it all flows, the dialog is nothing short of brilliant – and yet….

There seems to be something missing. The scene that was written to evoke such intensity, empathy, such emotion, just doesn’t. But you say to yourself, well, I wrote it. I’ve read it and read it and read it…and, well you know. So since I know it so well, every speech, every scene, why would I be moved? Why would I be drawn it? It’s just technical now, isn’t it? Clean it up and get it out there. The audience will be drawn it – I’ve crafted it so well.

Ah, no.

I think a writer’s instinct is one of the most important elements of writing that script or novel. That little unsettled kernel in your stomach that lets you know you’re not done yet. Writers need to trust that feeling more.

So can it be over done? Sure, what can’t? You can write a story to death. You can just be a deeply paranoid writer who is constantly sure the work being created isn’t good enough. That one you’ll have to sort out for yourself. It’s a whole different writer anxiety. Sorry.

But, presuming that isn’t your case, that little voice is telling you you need to make it better. Your gut. Be nice to it.

There is a power there that wise writers don’t dismiss easily. If you’ve read your material and it doesn’t make you feel the way you expect to make your readers or viewers feel, then back to the drawing board. It’s not like you CAN’T do it, you just HAVEN’T done it yet.

Come on. You know great writing. You’ve read it (I hope). Stories from amazing authors who aren’t you. Maybe you’ve written just as brilliantly, maybe you haven’t – yet. Either way, you know how that brilliant writing made you feel when you read it, when you wrote it.

Not every writer is capable of being the very best, the exalted, top of the heap, best darn writer in the world. But hey, maybe YOU can.

But you’re not going to find that place and bloom into the absolute best writer you can be unless you learn to trust that gut, that nagging feeling rumbling around (no not gas) that’s letting you know you haven’t finished that script or novel yet.

Pay attention to it. Get to know it. And as I’ve said in other posts, yep, trust your gut.