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Heeding the Muse, Part II - Synchronicity

Heeding the Muse, Part II - Synchronicity

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio


Where does inspiration come from?

             Last week we discussed the difference between Pull and Push Inspiration, how the former is a writer’s ability to draw from their beliefs and passions to solidify a message that they go into the poem or story intending to speak to their readers.  Push inspiration, on the other hand, was when something outside of and beyond the experience of the writer forces its way into their creative process, begging, screaming to be spoken. 

            Today, I want to share one method of identifying the rolling wave of Push Inspiration.  It is probably the most often occurring and tangible way I experience the Push in my own writing.  It can be summed up in one beautiful and straight forward word:


            The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines synchronicity as, firstly, anything that occurs within a synchronous manner.  Okay, not a lot of help there, Mr. Webster.  His second definition hits more directly what I want us to learn:  The coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality.  MW also tells us that Mr. C. G. Jung was especially fond of the concept (as are quite a few of us crazy, eccentric, artistic types on which he might have experimented had we shared temporal space).

            More simply put, and in regard to our writing process, we could say that Synchronicity is when we begin to experience an onslaught of events, moments, comments by friends, etc., which points us to a Truth or a number of connected Truths.  Experiencing Synchronicity, in fact, can feel like you are mainlining Truth.   It is as if the Universe, or whatever cosmic powerhouse fits within your ideology, is directing your attention to a single fact about life—and then highlighting it, underlining it, drawing little arrows and a “Hey you, stupid” in the margins of the page.   

            I can’t begin to give you an example right now from my own writing, as amazing as the incidents of synchronicity may have felt in the moment (chiefly because once you learn to take note of such things, the current message being shouted in your ear will all but erase previous ones).  Still, I will give you an example—a wholly made up one—to illustrate the idea.

            *grasps at the air for the first inane and random thing that comes to him*

            Perhaps your week starts with a bleary-eyed drive to work and, during said ride, your favorite talk radio host announces a newly discovered factoid:  Scientists at UCLA have discovered that the sky may not, in actuality, be blue (as previously stated, this is a purposefully fictitious and ridiculous example).  Although morning traffic in pouring rain meant you hadn’t really been paying attention at the time, that one sentence jumped out at you.  You nod your head, give it a moment’s thought, and go about your day.

            It is your lunch break and a ceaselessly rambling coworker is not allowing you to eat in peace.  You tune her out, nomming your quesadilla, as she rattles on and on about another coworker she had previously believed to be her dearest friend.  As you take your final bite, you turn to give her a nod of your head (to make it seem like you’ve been listening) just as she says, “She just wasn’t at all what she seemed.”  You mutter, “Wish I could help” and beat carpet back to your desk.  Still, something you can’t quite put your finger on niggles the back of your mind.

            That evening, you are clattering supper dishes into the dishwasher.  Through that noise, and the noise of the television, you hear your thirteen-year-old say, in a less than enthusiastic voice, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

            This is when it hits you.  The connection.  Not that Mr. Poe’s words aren’t intriguing (your son, doing homework, clearly doesn’t think so) but they are worth more than they may have been, before, there on the page of that textbook.  You realize that these tiny, seemingly unrelated moments in your day are coming to you along a string, like beads of a necklace.  Appearances can be deceiving.  Now, this message, as I said, is inane and simple; for you, in that moment, it may not be so.  Perhaps only a month before you suspected a spouse of infidelity or a car salesman of outright deceit, and now you are drawn to think on those events in a new light.  Regardless, the urge that drives you to write your story or your poem is an amalgamation of events, of moments, that, together, have crystallized across the windshield of your world.  For this evening, at least, it is all that you can see.


            Statisticians tell us that the lining up of any given peculiar string of events is not only a statistical probability but a foregone conclusion.  If it can happen, it will.  There are no coincidences, only inevitabilities.  That’s what they say.  And perhaps you only really noticed any of these moments because of your marital situation or your shady car salesman, your subconscious reaching out and snatching any extra support for what it believed prior to these new events. 

            But had you thought about that concept so very much before now?  Had you taken the time to sit down and explore the idea at your writing desk?   To plumb it for further, follow-on epiphanies?

            It is easy to go through our hurried lives blissfully blind to what goes on around us.  But what if we took note of these synchronicities?  What if we took the time to mine them for what they might provide?  Whether we believe it to be the subconscious or the supernatural is irrelevant.  Synchronicity is but one of the ways we can recognize inspiration for our writing, and an inspiration that propels us with passion.



Continued in Heeding the Muse III… 

Contact Information

Kristen Thompson

Published on May 19, 2014

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