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What is your relationship with your Muse?

Where do you fall within the full spectrum of inspiration? Do you actively seek inspiration or are you content to wait for the first flap or ruffle of an inspired word?

“The way in which you think of the energy that motivates you to pick up your pen and add to your writing will shape your relationship with your writing and your ability to pursue it.” — Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

This quote comes toward the end of a long passage about writers and their continual dance with inspiration. As Smiley says, “every author attests to the two states of writing–inspiration and waiting for inspiration.” For Smiley, the state of being inspired enough to write is “a condition of being stimulated by contemplation of the material to a degree sufficient to overcome your natural disinclination to create.”

Far too many writers are content to play the romantic courtier languishing on the sidelines while waiting for even the briefest glimpse of their Muse, the supposed supplier of their creativity. They love being caught up in the moment, dancing among the glorious stream of words only to fall exhausted at their Muse’s feet. When they wake, their Muse has vanished. Distraught, they sit and pine.

What about you? Are you aggressive enough in your courting of the Muse? Or are you content to allow her to play hide and seek with your inspiration? Do you wake up every day ready to ride through the dense forest, wade through rapid river currents, intent upon pursuing your inspiration? Or do you sit, hoping against hope that this is the day you will entertain an audience with the fairytale Muse?

Perhaps it’s time to reshape your relationship. Direct confrontation too much? Try stalking her. Shuffle your papers, sharpen your pencils, open your files, render your thoughts, fears, and hopes into an online journal, open a project notebook. Don’t wait for inspiration to show its face. Take control. You set the parameters. The muse can’t help but return, if only to see what you’re up to.




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  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/noblankpages/ Mark Schannon

    There may be a third path. I don’t think of a muse. I laughingly call it my rhetoric machine. Whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction, I’ve developed a deep trust in my unconscious to lead me into surprising and wondrous realms.
    My conscious mind has an important role to play–just making sure that, in the end, everything comes together, that the paths taken by my unconscious aren’t self-indulgent but actually drive the work (again fiction or non-fiction.)
    You just have to write, write, and write. I have half a dozen novels started that may or may not go anywhere. It’s not up to me. I just saw “Big Fish” again and I know I have to try to capture those themes in a story.
    The danger is when you let the outside world distract you to the point where you don’t write, where your unconscious is so wrapped up in garbage that the rhetoric machine is unheard.
    There is no muse. I would suggest that that’s a dangerous concept for a writer, as if the inspiration came from somewhere else.
    There are only the wild and mysterious ways of the unconscious just waiting for permission to be released.
    Hey…this ain’t bad. I may expand this and put it on my writer’s blog…which you were kind enough to comment on today.
    And I’ll be putting your blog on mine as a link. Gotta spend more time here.
    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/noblankpages/ Mark Schannon

    There may be a third path. I don’t think of a muse. I laughingly call it my rhetoric machine. Whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction, I’ve developed a deep trust in my unconscious to lead me into surprising and wondrous realms.
    My conscious mind has an important role to play–just making sure that, in the end, everything comes together, that the paths taken by my unconscious aren’t self-indulgent but actually drive the work (again fiction or non-fiction.)
    You just have to write, write, and write. I have half a dozen novels started that may or may not go anywhere. It’s not up to me. I just saw “Big Fish” again and I know I have to try to capture those themes in a story.
    The danger is when you let the outside world distract you to the point where you don’t write, where your unconscious is so wrapped up in garbage that the rhetoric machine is unheard.
    There is no muse. I would suggest that that’s a dangerous concept for a writer, as if the inspiration came from somewhere else.
    There are only the wild and mysterious ways of the unconscious just waiting for permission to be released.
    Hey…this ain’t bad. I may expand this and put it on my writer’s blog…which you were kind enough to comment on today.
    And I’ll be putting your blog on mine as a link. Gotta spend more time here.
    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://barbarawklaser.mysterynovelist.com/ Barbara W. Klaser

    Great post. I’ve found over the years that I know pretty much what to do to get inspired. My muse and I get along just fine. My biggest obstacles are energy and endurance. But this essay gives me something to think about. Distraction is a big problem for me. I tend to wrap my mind around one thing at a time, and sometimes it’s hard to let go of one thing that isn’t really important and get on to what matters.

  • http://barbarawklaser.mysterynovelist.com/ Barbara W. Klaser

    Great post. I’ve found over the years that I know pretty much what to do to get inspired. My muse and I get along just fine. My biggest obstacles are energy and endurance. But this essay gives me something to think about. Distraction is a big problem for me. I tend to wrap my mind around one thing at a time, and sometimes it’s hard to let go of one thing that isn’t really important and get on to what matters.

  • http://www.thewriterspath.com Vikk

    Hey Mark and Barbara, thanks for stopping by. Truth told, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of a muse since I first picked up pen and tapped on keyboard. However, I have seen far to many writers who seem to wait on their inspiration as though they might suddenly find it dropped on top of them much like the fabled stork carring the baby.
    I’ve developed techniques and strategies that move me into the creative state quickly and help me keep up a steady flow of words–and that’s the point. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Take action. Engage the subconscious, tease the unconscious, do whatever you have to do or whatever works for you to write.
    Every now and then I tend to drag the old muse out of the closet and throw her about for a while. The problem with a cliche is that there is that pin prick of truth and there are far too many writers who would rather be held captive to that theory than to expend the extra energy to move into the flow of writing.

  • http://www.thewriterspath.com Vikk

    Hey Mark and Barbara, thanks for stopping by. Truth told, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of a muse since I first picked up pen and tapped on keyboard. However, I have seen far to many writers who seem to wait on their inspiration as though they might suddenly find it dropped on top of them much like the fabled stork carring the baby.
    I’ve developed techniques and strategies that move me into the creative state quickly and help me keep up a steady flow of words–and that’s the point. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Take action. Engage the subconscious, tease the unconscious, do whatever you have to do or whatever works for you to write.
    Every now and then I tend to drag the old muse out of the closet and throw her about for a while. The problem with a cliche is that there is that pin prick of truth and there are far too many writers who would rather be held captive to that theory than to expend the extra energy to move into the flow of writing.

  • http://barbarawklaser.mysterynovelist.com/ Barbara W. Klaser

    Then again, when I have a good character, the character acts as my muse. I love when that happens.
    But you’re right, sometimes you have to just apply bu*t to chair and write. Then the muse will come. You know, like Field of Dreams for muses. 😉

  • http://barbarawklaser.mysterynovelist.com/ Barbara W. Klaser

    Then again, when I have a good character, the character acts as my muse. I love when that happens.
    But you’re right, sometimes you have to just apply bu*t to chair and write. Then the muse will come. You know, like Field of Dreams for muses. 😉