Authors love to complain about why writing is hard and this is a scientific fact. If you’ve ever sat down to write a story in any way, shape, or form, thoughts similar to this one are bound to have come across your head. Often we wake up scared of the possibility that we won’t be able to pay our daily writing quotas. And when we fail to complete these we put ourselves down and slink into an indefinite depression. If these feel like the majority of days that we experience as writers, then that’s because they are. And while the harvest of our craft is enjoyable, the same cannot always be said for the act of sowing it.
But that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. Today our subject is slightly less pessimistic. Slightly.
You’ve probably felt it only in full moons during the Winter Solstice. You probably thought it was what writing would feel like when you first practiced the craft. And to this day you no doubt loathe it for feeding your brain with false promises.
Oh, that’s right, fellas, today we speak about none other than the Muse and a few methods of taming it to work in your favor!
THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO ENSLAVING YOUR MUSE:
1. Make sure that you are aware that the Muse will leave you soon:
Yeah, yeah, we get it. You’re excited that you can actually enjoy writing your novel again. And cheers to you for reaching that “high” stage of inspiration. But there’s one caveat that will be detrimental to your development as a writer if you don’t master it.
The Muse is not going to be around forever.
I know you feel like you’re the King of the World right now and that you can finish writing five novels in one day, but don’t get ahead of yourself. One of the biggest mistakes that we make as writers is to convince ourselves that our work is only worthwhile when we
have the Muse. And at the beginning, it may all seem fine and dandy.
Day after day you’re just pumping out words like rabbits pump out their offspring. Every sentence is finely tuned down to even the smallest letter and the pacing is smoother than even the most expensive brand of butter you could find at your store. Every idea is coming to your mind. You feel as though you’ve finally been able to achieve that image of your story that you’ve had bubbling up in your head since you first started writing. Your characters act in the ways that you desired them to and they develop down the arc that you’d planned in your outline. Your story could never be better than what you are currently writing in this moment! This is the pinnacle of your achievement! But we all know that these stories end tragically…
The next day you wake up and that scene that had you so psyched up previously has gone a bit slower than you remembered it. Perhaps it was nothing, and all you need to do is start writing so the Muse can return to you. But the words just aren’t coming.
You tap to your heart’s content, but nothing in what you’re writing strikes you off as being better than the previous day. When you write that other tragic scene, it feels clunky and cringy when compared to the majesty of a similar scene you crafted before. Your characters start to disobey you and their character arcs begin to stagnate, yet you can’t focus on fixing them. Your mind only drifts to those sublime moments of character development that you had written before.
And this is natural.
We love to take whatever chance we have to criticize our own work. To the point that sometimes I believe writers to be inherently masochistic! Which is why we need to learn that we can’t rely on the Muse to make us happy about our writing. That mindset only ends up destroying us on a mental level.
2. With the previous point in mind, MILK IT, MILK IT, MILK IT, UNTIL THE MUSE DIES
We’ve faced the facts. We don’t know how the long the Muse has come to stay with us. There are occasions when the Muse remains with us for a week, others for a day, and more often than not, it can just stay there for an hour or two. Which is why we need to suck out every ounce of inspiration that we can from the Muse before it leaves us.
It baffles me how often I fail to take advantage of what would seem to be the most valuable guideline on this list. Sure, there are days where the Muse decides to show up and I’m physically unable to write, which is understandable. It would be foolish to assume that every author is in a position that they would be able to write in every single day that they lived. But what’s unforgivable are the days in which I am in my fullest ability to take advantage
of the Muse…but I still don’t!
I get that writers are procrastinators and all that, but it’s not like we’re talking about any run-of-the-mill writing session either. The Muse is a luxury that most writers struggle to achieve, and we don’t even try to use it sometimes!
It’s like being handed a sack of gold that you’re allowed to spend only in one day, and despite this, you decide only to sit at home and play video games. The worst part is the realization of all the opportunities that you squandered by ignoring the Muse. You knew it from the first place yet you still ignored it!
The Muse is a chance to at least double your word count! It’s the chance to make scenes that will need so little editing because of how good they already are! So milk that Muse!
3. Milk the Muse, but remember to brace yourself for the crash
It’s a sad fact of life that only keeps getting truer as time goes by, good things don’t last forever. The Muse is going to vanish when you least expect it, and just knowing that it won’t last forever is not enough to
undo the effects.
You also need to be aware that you will feel like the lowliest and most pathetic excuse for a writer by the time that the Muse is gone. Every word that you utter is going to be pure drivel in the face of your previous mastery of language. And I can spout every single shred of advice that has ever been posted on the internet for dealing with accepting your writing, but you will ALWAYS feel bad. It really is inevitable, and the most that you can do is to mitigate it.
But when I mean mitigate, I don’t mean just placing a band-aid on an old bruise. I mean covering yourself in bubble wrap while inside a full set of plate armor and jumping off of Mount Everest.
The Crash is going to HURT. and it is going to HURT BAD. And the worst part is that you don’t know how long it’s going to last. Maybe it only takes a day for you to recover into your normal writing attitude, perhaps even a week…or two weeks…three? By this point it all becomes a war of attrition and you need to accept that you’re at a disadvantage. But a disadvantage does not mean that you can’t scrape your way out of it.
Those precious memories that you have of enjoying your writing are going to be the key for you to claw out of the ditch that you just fell into. When you tell yourself that what you’re writing is trash, remember those moments in your novel that you loved writing, remember the tips that I’ve given to you, and never slow down your writing.
I know that you’re all bummed out and you feel like not writing that much anymore, but don’t stop. There are only rare occasions that you would need to take a break. And almost every time that your mind says that it wants a break from writing, your mind is trolling you. You must internalize that loathing your work is a part of the writing experience. And once you do that, the bruises that you accumulate after losing the Muse will grow to be less every time. You’ll never escape the crash unscathed, though.
The Muse is a tricky subject to handle, especially when one takes into consideration the almost mystical element that we give to it as writers. But when it gets down to it, we can find distinct patterns in it when we search closely, and the sooner that we recognize these, the sooner we can master the ways of the Muse. This has been the QuestingAuthor, and as always, keep writing.
This is an older post of mine that I personally feel didn’t reach as many people as it should have. I’ve always liked this post, and would go as far as saying that it confounds me on how it didn’t gain that much traction at first. However, with my new followers, I feel there are some tips here you’d like to see. I hope you find something you like!
My next post will also be a recycled one from the past, mainly because I’ll be out camping this weekend. Afterwards, we’ll resume with our usual routine of “witty” humor and snarky writing advice. Toodles!
– A certain QuestingAuthor