Monday, March 30, 2009

In My Experience, Muses Are A Bookish Lot

I don’t get “writers’ block” too often. My muse is fairly cooperative and if I want to write, I can usually write something. It might not be exactly what I’m supposed to be working on -- instead of the revisions and short stories I had planned to work on this weekend, I spent the better part of three days banging out the first few scenes of a shiny new project -- but if I sit down in front of the computer, I can usually make something happen.

There have even been times when I couldn’t stop myself writing. An idea will take hold of me and I find myself clinging to my keyboard for dear life as the words race from my brain to my fingers to the page in front of me. I’ve been known to miss work, forget to eat, and contemplate skipping important family functions, like weddings, just to write when my muse demands my attention like that.

There have been other times, however, when I couldn’t. There have been days when, try as I might, the cursor just sits there, blinking at me, and the empty space on the page stares back, mocking me with all its blank, unfinished business.

I try, when one of the unstoppable writing times is upon me, to pay attention to the things I was doing just before. I try to find some trigger I can keep in the back of my mind and pull out during the . . . um, unstartable? . . . times. (There I go, making up words again.)

It would be nice if the answer was something very simple and quick. I would also love to realize that I was nibbling on a Hershey’s Special Dark bar every time. (Because doesn’t everyone need more excuses to integrate dark chocolate into their lives?) Alas, to my knowledge, there is no sweet in the world tempting enough to call forth a muse. At least, not for my muse. Maybe yours is different.

No, for me, the answer is usually novels. Every time I get sucked into a new idea, I can usually point to a few days spent lost in someone else’s fictional world immediately preceding. Sometimes the fiction is connected to what I end up writing, sometimes it’s not. I went through a phase last summer where I read a fourteen book series about a medical examiner in fourteen days and ended up completely rewriting the mythology of Memories shortly thereafter. Last week, I devoured three books about werecats in three days and then spent the weekend writing about familiars.

There are times when I feel lazy reading. After all, I love to read. I always have. Well, excepting one very rebellious phase I went through in third grade anyway. For me, there is no better way to spend a day than curled up with a good book. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a good book, actually, just a book. And I get completely sucked into the story when I’m reading. And I do mean completely. Completely in a “Honey, let’s have fast food for dinner tonight instead of a nice, normal, nutritionally-redeeming meal, because I can eat a burger one-handed” kind of a way. Needless to say, reading is not a chore for me.

So I’ve never associated reading with work. It has always been about pleasure for me, and there are times when life is so busy and so stressful that taking time out to do something for pure enjoyment’s sake seems irresponsible. But maybe it is that very non-stressful, pure pleasure aspect of reading that lures my muse back to me. Now that I know how to get her to come back, I’m not terribly fussed about why it works, but I am a little curious if it is the same for others.

So what about you? What gets your muse going? (And if your muse does happen to be irresistibly drawn to dark chocolate, I’m so very, very jealous!)

1 comment:

purpleprose 78 said...

My muse has ADD. She's always inspired to write and she always has ideas. The problem is that she dislikes finishing existing ideas. Right now I have her tied to the TDC chair. I am going to finish that stupid book if I have to beat her into submission. Right now she has a short story idea for a twisted fairy tale that she is burning into MY brain. I'm trying to use it as a carrot to finish what I'm doing.