Writing is Intuitive

I read an article about the need for writers to trust their intuition a few weeks ago (read it for yourself here) and it got me thinking about the role of intuition in my writing process. I have always been an intuitive writer in my fiction projects, but not as much so in nonfiction. Or so I thought. But upon reflection, I’m not so sure about that. When I’m teaching college composition classes, I always tell my students- many times over the course of many weeks- to find the invention strategies that work the best for their brains and use those. I encourage students to choose and define their own topics that meet the assignment criteria and build on their knowledge base and strengths as students and writers. So in that way, I am encouraging some intuitive creativity even while working on academic, nonfiction pursuits.
In my own nonfiction, then, am I following my own advice? I actually find that I am! Most of my book outlines are non-linear mind maps, organized in an intuitive way to be re-arranged as necessary once the creation of the manuscript has begun. When deciding on chapter lengths, format of material, and arrangement of chapters, I start with an intuition-driven plan (what FEELS right) and then tweak it or change it when/if it suddenly doesn’t feel right anymore.
The biggest challenge to my intuition occurs when I seek outside feedback. Even editors that I trust and who know my work well sometimes give me feedback that doesn’t resonate with me. I wait a few days and read the feedback again. If it STILL doesn’t resonate, then I know that it isn’t the right feedback for my work. Still, I sometimes second-guess it. What if the critics are right? What if it isn’t good enough? What if…? Ultimately, if I write to the best of my ability and trust myself, the work WILL find its audience. The key now is to get it out there. Ship something already!
Your turn: What role does intuition have in your art/work? Do you trust your intuition or look to outside sources for verification/validation? Who do you trust when you’re not sure about your intuition? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on the topic!