I have come to believe that the universe has ways of opening up to you just when you most need it. This is not a religious feeling. Nor is it even a spiritual or metaphysical one. What I mean is this: as a writer, being open to the world and trusting your intuition may be the most valuable tool you have.
I’ve come to believe that things fall into place not necessarily because they’re meant to be that way, but because my subconscious is opening up to them at the very moment they’re required. An article that catches my eye—no matter that it’s been sitting there a year—tells me something I need to know for the book I’m working on. A song I’ve never really listened to before gives me an emotional jolt that spurs a new idea. A movie that’s barely crossed the boundaries of my perception in the past suddenly becomes compelling, and spurs a plot or characterization I’ve been searching for. Or a book that’s been on my TBR pile for months or even years suddenly screams that it wants to be read, and when I do, I figure out how to write a certain scene, or discover a new structure for my own manuscript.
This was brought home to me again quite fiercely last night. I was frustrated with one of my characters, bored and annoyed and channel-flipping, and I came across a movie I’d heard of before but never had much interest in. And suddenly, for whatever reason, the synopsis sounded interesting. It had nothing to do with my book at all. Nothing that should have interested me, in fact, but I watched it—a movie that was barely on my radar before that moment—and it solved the problem I’d been having. It was a nothing moment in the film—the way a character turned his head, a single line of dialogue, and suddenly I had the answer.
That’s what I mean about things opening up to you when you’re ready to see them. Had I not followed my intuition and watched the movie, the problem would have taken me much longer to solve. But because I’ve noticed this phenomenon over the years, and because I’ve now trained myself to indulge momentary interests or urges, I’ve experienced more and more instances of this very thing. I suppose one could call it serendipity, and it is that. But serendipity can only work if you keep your writers’ eye open. Allow yourself those little, inexplicable distractions—the writer inside you is telling you something.
You should listen.
Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several novels. The Best Reviews has said she writes “Fascinating historical fiction.” Her books have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices program and IndiBound’s Booksense. A former television news photographer with a BA from Western Washington University, Megan Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters. Find her at: http://www.MeganChance.com.