Traditionally, the muse is treated as an external force, fickle and impatient.
It is up to her, whether she appears to you and grants you a brief moment of inspiration, like a fairy doling out wishes.
/thwaps you upside the head with a star-tipped wand
Snap out of it.
Writing is work.
Writing is amazing, glorious, riding a rainbow unicorn through a jellybean rainbow work sometimes, but it’s always work.
You CAN NOT sit around and wait for a muse to find you.
If you’re waiting for inspiration, or time, or life to slow down, you’re going to miss the boat.
This is a difficult lesson to learn, mostly because sometimes you DO get struck by creative lighting out of the blue. It happens, and it’s so incredibly magical that it becomes tempting to believe that ALL creative pursuits should feel that wonderful all the time.
If you wait for your “fairy muse” to find you, you will
- Never finish what you start
- Produce very little completed work, and what you DO write may be disconnected scenes that are impossible for a reader to follow
- Ride the emotional roller coaster of “I am AWESOME and I can write anything!” followed by “Holy geriatric pixies, I’m the worst writer EVER.” so often that your friends and family members will dread hearing you talk about your latest piece.
Use Your Muse
On the upside? If you stop treating your muse like an external fairy and instead treat her like a part of yourself, you can stop waiting for her to grace you with her presence and start tapping your own fount of creativity.
The first step is banishing the image of your muse as someone who grants wishes or visits you on their own schedule.
The best way to banish that image is to replace it with a different one — and I think there’s value in everyone finding their own mental portrait of their muse.
My “muse” is Buckethead. She’s somewhere between 5 and 10 years old, is always covered in cookie crumbs, and wears a bucket over hear head. I don’t know whether I picked her or she picked me, but there’s no removing her now. She is a never-ending fount of creativity, constantly seeing the world from strange angles and chiming in with ridiculous imagery and songs to brighten up my day.
Why is this a useful image for me?
Because Buckethead is always with me. Not only that, but I know I can’t demand things from her the way I would an adult. I have to coax and tease and reward her when she helps me. I can give her a problem to solve, but I have to give her time to solve it and I can’t be mad at her when I don’t understand or like her response.
Some folks see their muse as animals or birds, others as shapes or clouds of smoke.
My muse likes to pretend she’s a train and loves to sing My Little Pony songs while I’m supposed to be paying attention in meetings.
The Lesson is, Dear Reader, that you should never be sitting idly, waiting for a visit from the spirit of creativity.
The creativity lives INSIDE of you, and you can actively seek a connection with it so that even when writing is WORK, it’s also joy.