First of all, let me say I don't believe in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy either. A Muse is a romantic idea, of course. Who doesn't like the thought of a tortured artist struggling to find the embodiment of their inspiration a la SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE?
But there is no Muse, no mystical, magical component in a writer's psyche that enables them to create their fictive dream. Remember the Muse is an idea brought to you by people who like to make things up.
And people who like to pretend not just anyone can do what they do.
The truth is fiction comes from inside the writer's mind and heart. And there are ways to make that creative side we all possess more lively in its expression. Here are a few things I do to stay motivated and inspired to write:
Tickle your imagination. I surround myself with art and music. I take walks by the river and let the natural beauty of our world wash over me. I'd rather travel than have a new sofa because it feeds my psyche with new experiences and ideas. Do whatever excites your mind and turns your thoughts in new directions.
Set a deadline to finish your work. Doesn't sound very romantic, but it works. Whether I'm under contract or not, a deadline looming lights a fire under me. Pick a date and figure out what it will take to meet that goal. The unconscious mind is a powerful thing. It finds a way to do what you tell it to. Tell yours to finish the book by (fill in the date) and see what happens.
BITCHOK. This stands for Bottom in the Chair, Hands on Keyboard. Writing is a muscle. You get stronger each time you exercise. Don’t wait till you “feel like writing.” That time may never come until you lose yourself in your story. Jump in with both feet.
Getting Unstuck. Every writer has moments where they've written themselves into a corner or find their plot hits a wall. To get moving again I do a couple of things. I'll decide only to write dialogue for a couple of pages. My characters will often show me the way out as they ping back and forth. I tend to write and revise as I go (one step forward, two steps back). As a variation on the deadline idea, I set a time for 20 minutes and promise myself I will only go forward. No revisions, not even to fix typos.
Professional practices. Lots of writers have day jobs. I used to be a banker, enslaving people to debt by day and scribbling snippets on my WIP during lunch and breaks so I wouldn't have to face a blank screen by night. I planned my writing with as much thoroughness as I brought to my 9-5. Writing is a business. Treat it like one. If you want a hobby, you can loiter around waiting for the Muse to show up.
Writing is an art and a craft, but mostly a craft. Of course you need a fabulous idea (which of us doesn't wish she'd thought up vegetarian vampires?) but you also need the sticktuitiveness to see that idea through to a completed manuscript.
Work hard and your Muse will find you hunched over the keyboard, creating without her magical touch. Because YOU are the magic.
What do you think? Do you have a pet muse and think I'm all wet?