July 14, 2011

When Your Muse Just Isn’t That Into You

Your Muse wakes you up at 2:00am promising hours of ecstasy but delivers only a mildly satisfying twenty minutes. She interrupts you while you’re driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic telling you that you’d better find a pen and something to write on in five seconds, or the inspiration will self-destruct. You have no pen.

In the middle of your office presentation, she whispers coy words in your ear, causing you to stumble in front of the V.P. Again. And now, she forces you to pull over on the side of the interstate because there’s a blind woman selling steak-fried-Cheetos in the middle of the desert, and your Muse says you need to know why. Really. Steak-fried-Cheetos-woman is important to your story. Muse swears.

She comes into your life at random, tosses one chocolate chip at you when you’re dying for the whole cookie, and leaves without saying goodbye. Bitch.

What can you do if your Muse just isn’t that into you?

You could try to woo her back:

  • Buy her a box of chocolates (you can eat one)
  • Pick up a nice bottle of wine (she won’t mind if you have a glass)
  • Perhaps some jazz music for ambiance (the kind without words to avoid distraction)

If your Muse is still more interested in flying off to Paris for the weekend, you might just have to forge ahead without her. You have deadlines to meet, after all.

Maybe you’re not the type that can simply sit down in front of the screen and force yourself to write. In that case, you might need to duct tape yourself to a chair. Why didn’t you think of duct-taping your Muse to the chair before she boarded the plane?

Or, if duct tape isn’t your thing, you could go around touching things. (Get your mind right out of that gutter!) You’re a sensory being, and touch is one of your greatest strengths. The feel of a salt-beaten, rocking chair - splinters eroded down to slick, grey grooves - beneath your fingertips just might be the inspiration you need.

What if you’re describing the environment? As you’re walking about, run your hand over the tree bark, pick up a fallen leaf, put your toes in the river, close your eyes and sit in the tall grass. Feel the speed of the water colliding with the soles of your feet, the vein of the leaf as it bends from stem to tip, the serrated edge of every blade of grass. Charge your writing with texture and watch as it comes alive. (Not literally though, because that would be a whole different type of story. Frankenstein forests are not good.)

Perhaps your character is a baker. You probably stuck your fingers into a bowl of cake-mix as a child (before you washed your hands, no doubt) to grab a pinky full of that sweet, buttery batter. Does your grown-up character still do this with every batch of cupcakes? If so, go stick your pinky in batter and see what it feels like slipping over your hand, the sensation of tasting the warm vanilla, pressed between your tongue and the groove of your fingerprint.

And when your Muse returns, give her a cupcake and send her down the river.

What do you do when your Muse goes missing?


  1. My muse is a wily creature...likes to pop in at random and then dart off to some foreign location at will.
    I usually go to a bookstore for inspiration or a coffee shop. People watching helps me get back into the groove and the smell of books and coffee is elating to me. :D

  2. The muse always seems to be there; it's usually me who's weak.