Follow your instincts we are told. But is this good advice?
Instinct helps us to decide what's right and wrong.
It can help us plan a course of action that sits well with our conscience or life-view.
We can do great things following our instincts.
But our instincts can be wrong.
We all know of examples when, sometimes, our instincts encourage us to undermine or to hurt other people out of a misguided sense of justice or perhaps even revenge.
Intuition is different, a more nebulous phenomenon.
It is often a less than rational feeling whereby you're convinced something is the case, or more especially will be the case based on nothing more than a hunch.
Recently I experienced an odd sense of foreboding. I was getting into my car and I just knew something bad was going to happen.
I just knew.
I ignored the feeling. Twenty minutes later I was involved in a four car crash in rush hour traffic - thankfully no-one was hurt.
But I remembered that my intuition was somehow 'in touch' with a future event - and had tried to warn me.
Some time later, I had that feeling again - again, just as I was getting into my car.
This time, because I had the kids with me, I went back indoors.
The following day there was news on the radio of a major train wreck that had occurred on the very stretch of road I was planning to ride down!
Now that was spooky.
Then, last week, something really weird happened.
There was an ad on TV featuring a guy stood in a doorway - a stone arch with distinctive lettering above it.
When I saw it I thought to myself - I wonder where that is?
Just out of idle curiosity.
The next day I took my sons out for the day.
I was planning to take them to the zoo but Alastair said he wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt he'd been told about, so we did that instead.
After, we were ambling through some back streets when Oscar, the youngest, spotted a pile of sand.
Like kids do, he made straight for it.
I could have called him back but I thought, well, what's the harm?
As we reached the sand I looked to my left down a side street - and guess what I saw?
Yep, the very doorway I'd seen in the ad!
What are the odds of that?
What kind of fate, destiny, happenstance - whatever you want to call it - led me to that doorway?
Had my idle curiosity sent out a message to the Universe?
One that was answered?
The older I get the more I am impressed with the idea that, through some as-yet-not-fully-understood higher mechanism, we create the world we live in on a day-to-day basis.
Scott Adams, in his book 'Dilbert Futures', talks about the possibility that imagining future outcomes might in some way create them.
Now, even assuming you think this is a ridiculous idea - what would you do if it were true?
What would you think about?
What would you plan?
How would you approach your writing?
In my books and courses I talk about the need to believe that something is possible before you can make it happen.
Like writing a novel or an ebook - you can't do it unless you're convinced you are capable of it, before you start.
Creation begins with an act of faith - in yourself and in what you are trying to do.
Writing is an act of creation.
When you plan to write a piece, a short story, a novel, an ebook, whatever, you need to see (or predict) its effect - you need to see how it will be received by your friends, your family, indeed, by all people around the world.
But not in a negative sense.
Too many writers ask me about the down side of publishing the truth as they see it.
They want to write contentious material that, sure enough, when completed, results in bad karma.
A self-fulfilling prophecy, if you like.
No, you need to see the benefit and the joy or comfort your writing will bring after its completion.
Even if you're just writing for entertainment or to impart information.
Listen to your intuition.
If you know something is good and right and should be out there, keep working on it, even when your instincts might be telling you otherwise.
I think the trick to a healthy and productive writing life is planning.
That, and consciously visualizing the results of your writing.
And, of course, blind faith.
I'm often surprised how many successful authors I meet who just knew, deep down, they were going to make it.
And how many unsuccessful people who just 'know' they're not worthy.
To me, there's something almost magical about attitude - that somehow, given the correct motives and enthusiasm, the Universe can reward us by actively conspiring to give us the things we desire, imagine and deserve.
Your Success is My Concern