ship with red flag

by Judith Couchman

You’re sailing along with a writing project, but something within gently nags you.

It’s probably your gut, your inner writer, raising a red flag about your manuscript. You could need to check a fact, strike a sentence, reconsider an opinion, edit a paragraph, or research more information. Or you might need to change direction, throw out pages, and rewrite. Whatever the case, it’s time to listen.

One author describes this process: “I genuinely liked everything I’d written. That’s what made it so hard, that subtle, sickening feeling that somewhere, somehow, the book was just fundamentally not right.” She took a few days off to read and meditate, and “finally, a doorway opened, a ray of light broke through, and I could look through and see my story . . . the real story I wanted to tell.”

Even if it’s “just a feeling,” listen to inner nudges until you decipher what they’re trying to say. They’re usually telling the truth. If you ignore intuition, most likely an editor or reader will pinpoint what you overlooked. And that’s embarrassing.

Heart from water splash with bubbles isolated on white

When in doubt, choose the heart. This does not mean to deny your own

experiences and that which you have empirically learned through the years.

It means to trust yourself to integrate intuition and experience.

—Brian L. Weiss

Judith Couchman

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, writing coach, and adjunct professor. She’s traditionally published more than 42 works. Learn more about her at Write to her at


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