The Recalcitrant Muse

In my youth, I fell prey to the pretty belief that the muse is some shining golden goddess in an immaculate white robe, who descends from the heavens of creativity to touch me with her sparkling fairy wand, inspiring beautiful words to spring fully-formed from my head onto the page.

Sadly, I have been disillusioned.

Okay, fine: I never really believed that. But now that I’m writing all day (FINE–most of the day), every day, I’ve realized that the muse, or at least my muse, is in fact a snarly-haired wench, who, when I’m not paying attention, is inclined to beat me about the head with a toaster like the Ghost of Christmas Present in Scrooged, and who is more of a lie-abed than I am, sometimes lying grumpily in bed for days.

Sometimes she wakes up at 3 a.m. and won’t shut up. Hence this blog post.

However, I’ve learned a few things about working with this recalcitrant muse rather than trying to work for her:

  • She can be bribed. Good, strong tea and the right mood music can lure her out of bed.
  • Sometimes she just has to be told to stop whining and get to work. This might be accomplished by beating one’s head against a flat surface for several minutes, or by staring blankly at a computer screen for two hours, or by writing crap until you get into the swing for writing once more.
  • On the other hand, her occasional strikes can be more like forced time off. Sometimes a few days off are all the muse needs to get the words springing again. Some people say to literally write all day, every day, but for many of us that’s just not feasible. My muse needs rest.

Writing is fun, sure, but it’s also work, and we all need our little tricks and mental-vacations to get through the day.

How do you wrangle your muse?

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