Since sharing this post outlining my "miracle morning" routine, I've received a handful of requests to share more about the process I use to write to my intuition. Although it's something I've been doing for well over a year now, I'm by no means an expert on the topic. Thus, below you'll find a mix of my own experiences, insights, and tips about how to write to your intuition along with links to helpful resources from those I consider to be intuitive writing experts. I hope this post provides a foundational framework so that you may begin to engage in and lean on the intuitive writing process yourself!
What In the World Is Intuition Anyway?
Excellent question. If you ask Wikipedia, she'll tell you that, "Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence, or conscious reasoning, or without understanding how the knowledge was acquired." Essentially, intuition is unconscious knowledge or cognition, an inner sensing or inner knowing. Thus, someone who is labeled "intuitive" engages in the process of perceiving directly through intuition without rational thought.
With intuitive writing, the purpose is to unearth this knowledge, bringing unconscious knowing into conscious awareness so that it may be utilized for purposeful decision making, insight, and awareness.
Too Woo Woo? I Feel You.
If this is all feeling a little too woo woo for you, I'm right there with you.
Despite growing up with a motivationally and spiritually attuned mother by my side (our car rides to and from school were considerably more likely to be serenaded by the likes of Wayne Dyer, Seth, and Jim Rohn than they were Sesame Street), up until the last several years or so I wasn't all that open to the idea myself.
Despite maintaining a sense of hopefulness that there was indeed something greater out there, not that long ago, a little too much woo or touchy-feely intuitiveness would quickly send my mind racing for rational proof. I read The Power of Now in 2007 and the bulk of it went whizzing over my head in favor of my default woulda, coulda, shoulda perspective. The next book I picked up was Twilight, thankyouverymuch. But personal experiences combined with the thoughtful wisdom of those I consider to be mentors have softened me to the idea entirely.
What began as curiosity has unfolded into an immense passion for the spiritual side of life. The books my mom was touting, ranting, and raving about back in 2002 now (finally) adorn my very own book shelves.
Along with this sense of spiritual passion has come peace, calm, and a greater sense of purpose and clarity. So much so that there are days when I'm moved to tears by the beauty of what would have once seemed like the most mundane of experiences to me: the sight of a small exchange of kindness between two strangers, signs of synchronicity, and the goosebumps that appear in the face of a warm breeze of inspiration. Those moments breathe life into my bones.
Of course, there are also days when I'm feeling feisty and cut off from this sense of spiritual belonging altogether. A harsh book review, an entitled or mean-spirited comment, a disheartening news story, a wave of fear or foreboding joy, etc.—those things can knock me from spiritual grace and leave me reeling before I've even realized what's happened.
I'm human and it's okay. Better yet, it's good to feel feelings.
But it's from that place of separation where it becomes so perfectly clear just how much I want to—I long to—reside more firmly within that place of deeper, more purposeful connection. To exist in unison with the belief that there is in fact something far beyond what is tangibly present.
And this is exactly why the process of intuitive writing is such a game-changer. It's in moments of doubt, uncertainty, and paralyzing fear that I'm most likely to plop down and write to my intuition.
Why Write to Your Intuition?
There is nothing more calming, more reassuring than the wisdom that comes from your higher self. Ironically, this is the "self" that doesn't actually separate itself from other selves. No, no. This self is connected and tuned in to all that is. It sees the light within each and every ounce of your being—even within your shadows.
And wisdom coming from that part of you? Well, it's like a warm hug.
Especially when compared to the typical fear-based ramblings we so often hear from the ego...
Ego vs. Intuition
Oftentimes when we think about the idea of an "ego", the stereotypical ego-maniac comes to mind. Yet for the sake of differentiating between ego and intuition, I'm going to ask that you release the more psychologically formed idea of the ego in favor of a more spiritually bound understanding of it.
While ego-maniacs certainly have a time and place (and a diagnosis, for that matter), it's important to remember that even though the vast majority of us aren't clinically diagnosable, each and every one of us still has an ego. In fact, that ego of ours is in the driver's seat of our minds most of the time, especially if we're not consciously aware of the difference between it and our intuition.
At the most fundamental level of differentiation, ego is fear-based and intuition is love-based.
Ego sees separation where intuition sees connection.
I should clarify that the purpose of differentiating between these two isn't to say that one is bad and the other is good. Rather, calling out the distinctions arms us with an awareness so that we're better equipped to recognize when our ego (read: fear) is leading versus when our intuition (read: love) has the reigns.
Fear certainly has a time and a place and a very important purpose (e.g., fight or flight situations), but when it becomes the driving force in our lives it leads to a sort of stagnation and paralysis that simply doesn't serve us.
Interestingly, the loving wisdom of our intuition actually tends to trigger our ego to become fearful and defensive. That's because the intuition is full of surprises, and the ego much prefers predictability and control. In the face of the intuition's wise but sometimes lofty or dreamy guidance, the ego clings to rationality.
So which one should you listen to?
Our set-point most typically aligns us with that fearful ego guidance and it's the intuition's knowledge that's more difficult to hear. Yet in all my years, intuition has never steered me wrong despite how out-there—scary even—its guidance initially seemed.
I'll give you an example.
As many of you know, I'm currently on leave from my position as a school psychologist. I'm fortunate to work in a district where I can take up to two year's leave and still have my job waiting for me should I decide to return.
The part you probably don't know is the full extent of the why behind my decision to take a leave of absence. The logical, more rationally based reason was that writing a cookbook, running a website, and working full-time as a psychologist had worn me thin. I had been working nearly every day (weekends included) for well over a year. And they were long, 10–14 hour days, which simply wasn't sustainable.
Yet writing the cookbook simply forced me to acknowledge a much bigger problem that my intuition had been warning me of for years: I wasn't fulfilled in my position as a psychologist.
Let me explain.
During a good week at work, I was spending maybe three hours working directly with students. Most weeks it was more like an hour. The remainder of the time was spent in meetings and/or alone in my office writing psychological reports.
Now, I love writing reports (it's my jam), but this wasn't the career I signed up for and my intuition knew it. I wanted to touch the lives of students and make a difference, not complete paperwork and write reports that predominantly served to remind families of their children's disabilities.
Yet my ego kept reminding me that this was my dream job. This was the exact district I wanted to work in when I first set out on this path all those years earlier, and I managed to land the position straight out of graduate school. How could I let go of that? I was so inspired, so hopeful stepping through those doors on my very first day. No one leaves this district. In fact, this is where everyone wants to work. I was honored to be there, yet something didn't feel right.
Fast forward to 2015. Despite my intuition's questioning beginning as early as the first year I worked in the position, my ego's fearful stance had kept me there for nearly five years. Cookbook craziness aside, by this point even my ego was softening to the intuition's wild idea to take a leave of absence. And so I did. At the advising of my intuition and with the wary approval of my worn-out ego, I made the request.
It was terrifying at the time but it's been the best decision I've ever made career wise. I miss my colleagues and I miss the kids like crazy, but I've never felt more fulfilled, inspired, and open to possibilities. This isn't to say that my feelings won't change, but for now, this is exactly where I want to be.
So thank you, intuition. You scare me and you terrify the ego, but I love you.
How do you know when you're being guided by intuition?
Excellent question. The answer will be a bit different for everyone but for me, intuition often shows up as a tingly burst of inspiration or a feeling of release and openness. Sometimes there are butterflies, too. The nervous but positive kind. When I'm being guided by the ego, on the other hand, I often feel closed off, sapped of energy, an icky sinking sensation in my stomach, doubt, uncertainty, etc.
Both of these feelings are helpful in different scenarios. For instance, oftentimes when I'm facing a yes-or-no decision, I'll put it to the test by envisioning my future self saying 'yes'. If I'm struck with a feeling of openness and inspiration, then I know my intuition is calling me forward in that direction; however, if I feel closed off or experience that uncomfortable sinking sensation (which is truly different than nervous butterflies), then I know intuition has willingly passed the baton to the ego to let it stomp the idea out. It's good at that.
Marie Forleo does an excellent job differentiating between the feelings of fear vs. intuition in this video.
There are, of course, other times when it's a little less clear who's guiding who.
For instance, when faced with a decision to do something that my intuition is genuinely curious about yet the experience itself is way outside my comfort zone, I often feel a rush of inspiration followed by a sinking feeling and a slew of ego-posed 'what if' questions. In those scenarios, it can be difficult to discern whether intuition is guiding me away from something or ego is simply attempting to overthrow intuition because of its overly fearful nature and protective stance against uncertainty.
Perhaps you've experienced something similar. Something deep down inside draws you toward something new. The task or adventure at hand feels important and gosh darn it it feels right. The core of your being says 'YES!' but your rational mind drops the needle on its favorite naysayer tunes...
Hit it, boys!
Who do you think you are? You're going to make a fool out of yourself. What if you mess up? What if you fail? What if people laugh at you? What if you end up broken-hearted? You're insane to think this is a good idea. What if you go broke? You're not x enough to do this successfully. You need to accomplish x before you can do this. Do you have the degree for this?
Been there? Me too. Time and time again.
To get to the heart of the matter in these trickier-to-navigate situations, I write to my intuition, and you can, too.
How to Write to Your Intuition
1 | Clear Your Mind.
First thing's first: clear your mind as best you can.
For me, this usually means meditating for between 5 to 15 minutes. For you, it might mean taking a walk outside, reading something inspiring or funny, having a snack, flowing through a few yoga poses, spending time with a furry friend, dancing around to your favorite feel-good songs, working out, etc.
Do whatever you need to do to clear your mind and return your outlook to a balanced baseline where it's not overly attached to the fear-mongering tunes of your ego.
2| Grab Your Gear.
Once you've cleared your mind, grab something to write with as well as something on which to write.
For me, this is a gold Gelly Roll pen (because why not) and a small bound journal.
For you, it might be a pencil and some looseleaf paper, a sharpie and a spiral notebook, a colored pencil and a sketchpad, or even a computer with an open word document. There's no right or wrong utensils here. You do you.
That being said, the one thing I'll note is this is the lone scenario where I much prefer hand writing versus typing. I'm a speedy typer and would likely be better able to keep up with the swiftness at which the answers flow if I typed, but something about the blank computer screen stifles my intuition. Poor girl gets stage fright when faced with high-tech gadgets, so I keep it basic.
3| Find a Quiet Place.
Take your gear and move to a quiet, peaceful place. For me, this is my desk most of the time, but if Dan's using the office then I'll opt for our back deck or a spot on the couch.
Just make sure you're able to write easily, quickly, and comfortably wherever you are.
4| Pose a Question.
Now that you're geared up and cozied up, think of an open-ended question (i.e., not a 'yes' or 'no' question) and write it down.
I often start with a very general, open-ended question and move on to slightly more specific questions once things get flowing. You want to give your intuition a bit of wiggle room and flexibility as opposed to trapping her in a corner.
Here are a few examples...
What would you have me do today?
What would you have me know about this particular situation/scenario?
Where should I focus my attention at this moment in time?
What is x situation trying to teach me?
What is my next best step in order to move forward toward x?
5| Wait for the Answer.
But don't wait too long.
If you catch yourself thinking, then you've caught your ego attempting to hijack the conversation. Don't give it the chance to do so.
Oftentimes, I find the best approach is to just start writing without waiting or thinking. At first, the answers usually don't make much sense but all of the sudden things begin to shift and take shape in a meaningful way.
The key is to resist the urge to edit or judge.
For instance, there have been many times when I've written words I don't normally use in my everyday vocabulary—heck, sometimes I didn't even realize they were real words—only to look them up later and realize that not only are they real words, they were truly the most perfect choice given the context. In the moment, there can be a temptation to edit or omit, but the responses that flow without question are always the most profound in the end.
Bottom line: Do your best to get the ego out of your intuition's way so the answers can flow through you. Just keep writing and allow the knowledge of your intuition to bypass your rational mind and move through your heart to your pen to the page.
And then ask again.
6| Be Patient.
This process gets much easier with time and practice. Sometimes the answer might not come to you in the moment but will appear later that day or even within a dream that evening.
Just be patient and keep an open heart, and you'll begin to experience some truly magnificent intuitive miracles.
Examples of Intuitive Q + A Sessions
Below you'll find a few real-life, completely unedited examples from Q + A sessions I've held with my intuition in recent months.
One important note: I'm a very sensitive person by nature but I'm by no means an overly touchy-feely sort of person. There is a distinction, and trust me, some of the bits in the A's are way too touchy-feely, lovey-dovey for my liking (perhaps even a bit grandiose if I were to put on my psychologist's hat and diagnose), which is why I'm extra certain these words weren't wrought from my consciousness. I just don't love on myself like this. In fact, my conscious self-talk (read: the inner dialogue of my ego) is much more likely to be judgmental and harsh than it is love-filled.
Also, the answers always flow incredibly quickly. So quickly that I can hardly keep up with writing them and my handwriting is forced to become sloppy, almost illegible, in order to accommodate the speed.
Q. What would you have me do today?
A. I'd have you maintain this hopefulness. This sense of belonging and optimism. It will serve you. Worry less about to-do's and outcome and focus instead on being, believing, and discovering. Your curiosity will not deceive you. Allow it to be your barometer, your compass. Your intuitive guide with clear direction. I sense your wondering about specific actions... let them flow. If you flow into the kitchen, flow through the motions with the most graceful presence but be careful to attend to your intuition. You needn't push so hard all the time, Ashley. This is not the purpose of life; this is simply the protective cloak you've tossed on to shield yourself from the truth. It's okay to do so on occasion, just be mindful and choose presence as much as possible. Your presence is your purpose. Yes. Underline it. Repeat it. Live it. Believe it. Share it. Your presence is your purpose. That's what I'm guiding you to every day. Be open to it and you shall be fulfilled, joyful, and "happy" as you shall likely call it.
Q. Are you ever disappointed in me when I lose sight of this path?
A. My darling, never. You are exactly as you should be. Perfect in all of your beautiful imperfections. The beauty in life is not in perfection or perfect adherence but in the journey of slipping, falling, and crumbling, and regaining our footing. You are not a machine. You are a human. But beneath this human exterior of yours there is a beautiful, limitless energy that transcends all bounds that you know. It's you, it's me, it's all around, it's everything. Life is a balance of these two things. We teeter between that which is in front of our eyes and that which is within and all-knowing, forming touchstones along the way. We bravely walk the line everyday and we lean from side to side. The goal is to stand straight in our being and embrace both the presence that surrounds us and embodies us. I love you. So much. And I'm proud of you always, no matter what. You are walking the walk, my child. You are brave, courageous, and wise. You are enough. You've always been enough. Remember it.
Q. Is focusing on all of this selfish? I can't get over the feeling that somehow it's selfish to focus inwardly?
A. Again, free yourself from your fears and you shall fly. What your fears are telling you is a reflection of your ego, not of others' beliefs about you. Through presence, you will discover the relationships to nourish as well as those that can peacefully rest without your worry, guilt, or shame. Free yourself from the guilt too, okay? You've worn that burden for far too long. Release it. You've never deserved your guilt, your shame, your fear, only your love. By loving more, others will feel more fulfilled by your presence. The occasional presence of a fully grounded, loving being is far more meaningful than the regular presence of a fearful, guilt-ridden being. Be love and you shall receive it in an abundance you've never before known. I promise. Be love. Be love. Be love.
Q. How do I stop the internal questioning and guilt I sometimes feel?
A. Sometimes? Girl, you've been hauling that guilt around like a security blanket for the last 33 years. Release it. Set it down and don't look back. Has it ever served you? No. Action inspired from guilt is a passive form of inaction. Its vibrations are weak and fruitless. However, action inspired by love is fruitful and forgiving. As far as combatting the thoughts/feelings as they arise, simply stay present. Focus on the moment that surrounds and embraces you. Be it and you shall return to grace. I'm giving you blanketed permission to release yourself from guilt and shame and should's. You should only do what love and presence compel you to do if you feel compelled to do so. By being present more often, you'll find a natural inclination to do the things that right now feel like a chore. Life's duties will become effortless and you'll be supported in your forward motion on tasks that once felt daunting. I promise.
Q. Why do I forget/avoid doing this? The intuitive journaling, that is?
A. Sometimes what we fear more than anything is the truth. For when we're given the truth, it becomes our duty, our obligation, our promise to ourselves to uphold it. In this way, we often evade the truth to preserve our habits. We feel safer this way but it's a harder life overall. For our habits, the one's we abide by without question, are the chains that bind us to our anchor. They hold us in place and keep us there. What we're meant for, destined for at our core, is exploration. Exploration of our truth, our reality, our existence beyond what can be perceived by most. The existence, the truth that can be perceived by few is the greatest gift of all. It brings peace even amidst the storm and calms us during our darkest hours. We must always remember that there is more than meets the eye and continue [instead] to seek the reality that meets our soul. You will likely forget or avoid this intuitive process again. It's okay. Just promise me, promise yourself, that you'll return to it more often. You're meant to be here. The world needs your answers just as much as you do.
Q. Why do I often feel torn between what my heart guides me to do and what my rational brain demands of me?
A. Your answer is in your question. Would you rather obey a dictator or be inspired by a compassionate leader? You are who you are because of both pieces but your experience is proportional to the joy you feel. If one or the other is not bringing you joy, release it. Do kind leaders get less done? No, they accomplish more with less resistance.
Q. What would you have me do today?
A. Release the pit in your stomach and trust that something greater, something beyond your wildest dreams is coming. Flow to it by flowing through your moments instead of resisting that which is. The way forward is not the way back. The way forward is by standing in place and feeling the joy which is always there. No need to search, simply open your heart to that which already is.
Other Resources for How to Write to Your Intuition
»»» Jess Lively is a master with intuitive writing, so be sure to check out her site, podcast, etc. for lots of great insights and how-to's on the topic. Her blog post titled How to Hear from Your Intuition Today is a great place to start.
»»» Lynn Robinson. I've mentioned Lynn before and want to reiterate what a wonderful intuitive resource she is. Whether you're just beginning to dip your toes into intuitive waters or you're a seasoned intuition whisperer, her book Divine Intuition (←affiliate link) is a fantastic read for honing and refining communication between intuition and ego.
»»» Although perhaps best known for her refined business skills, smarts, and gorgeous hair, Marie Forleo is also a seasoned intuition tapper. Check out her blog post and video titled 4 Ways to Sharpen Your Intuition.
»»» Gabby Bernstein is another phenomenal resource when it comes to tapping into inner wisdom and knowing. Checkout the intuition archives on her site as well as her most recent book, The Universe Has Your Back (←affiliate link).
»»» The late Dr. Wayne Dyer. The world lost a walking angel when they lost this man but his writings live on and feel more powerful now than ever. I'm nearly finished with The Power of Intention and cannot recommend this book more. It's a powerhouse read on intuitive wisdom and spiritual connection that should not be missed. Touching story: Many years ago, my mom wrote a letter to Dr. Wayne Dyer during a particularly difficult time in her life to thank him for his work, expecting absolutely nothing in return. He responded with a handwritten, personal, and empathic letter as well as a stack of his books. Now that's a man who wasn't afraid to live the love he spoke of so passionately.