The Care and Feeding of the Muse
The best way to cure writer’s block is to prevent it from ever happening. Inspiration is the well from which writers and artists drink. And the muse is the personification of our inspiration. Keeping her well full and clear is something that will benefit all artists, and here are some thoughts on how we can do that.
Feed Your Muse with Down Time
I know this is the opposite of the normal writerly advice, to “write every day.” But it’s vital to not spend all our time chained to a computer, staring at a screen. We have to be out in the world. Blow off the computer, the television, the sofa, the office and get outside.
I am a hermit. I hate going out at all, but even I force myself to do so from time to time. Interacting with others is the only way to plant the seeds of realistic characters in my mind. Experiencing events and seeing sights is the only way to create believable scenes in our stories. It’s all grist for the mill.
Every person I encounter has a thousand stories. If I can look at a stranger and imagine what some of those stories could be, or listen to them tell me one of them, or just observe the way they move about in their skin, feeds every character I will create from that moment on. Every building, garden, or highway I observe will feed every future description I write. The more I observe and experience, the richer my storytelling will be.
Feed Your Muse With Silence
Taking time to stop the myriad thoughts racing around in your head is essential. You cannot hear the subtle whispers of your muse over all the background noise otherwise. Fifteen minutes of daily mind silence, also known as meditation, will power up your muse like nothing else going. It’s like telling her she has your undivided attention. And what you give attention to always grows. This is easily achieved just decide to do it. Turn off the phones and silence the net. Sit comfortably in a quiet room, not the same one where you work. Count the beats of each inhale and exhale in any rhythm you find soothing. Set a timer so you’re not constantly wondering how much time is left. And each time thoughts of story or plot pop in, just observe them floating by, without being pulled into them. Just notice them, and then focus again on your breathing. Afterward, jot down everything you remember. This is a path to creative power.
Feed Your Muse With Movement
If I sit all day, the pipeline between me and my muse gets clogged up. (And it’s terrible for my psoaz muscle, which damages the entire body.) So do something physical every single day. I am not prescribing killer workouts unless you love them. But get outside, go for a walk, work in your lawn or garden, ride your bike, do some yoga or tai chi. Move your body to get the blood flowing to your brain and the pathways to your muse will open like never before.
Key here is that whatever activity you choose be enjoyable; pleasure, not torture, will rev up inspiration.
Feed Your Muse With Art
If you’re a storyteller, reading the work of other storytellers is vital. If you’re an artist, enjoying the work of other artists. Whatever you do, enjoy the creations of the people you admire in your field. No necessarily the most successful ones, but the ones whose work speaks to you. Chances are your muses are sisters. You’ll get more from basking in creations you love, than trying to figure out why other people respond to something you don’t really get.
You don’t need to analyze these creations or break them down or outline them or try to see the inner workings of their creators’ minds. Just enjoy it as it was intended to be enjoyed. This will feed your muse with more art than just your own. And she will absorb it, process it, and feed it back to you in some different form to help you elicit the same reactions in your tribe that the artist’s work elicited in you.
Muses love art.
Feed Your Muse With Beauty
Surrounding ourselves with beauty feeds and nourishes our creativity like nothing else. Everything in the area where you do your creating should be as attractive to you as possible. The colors should appeal to you, the textures should be impossible to pass without touching, the scents should be delicious and delightful, the sounds, soothing and soul lifting. Decorate your space. Fill it with items that make your soul sing. And don’t forget to include images that represent your muse in your own mind.
I have sheer flowing swags hanging from my windows, canvas prints by John Waterhouse on my office walls, statues goddesses and muses on my stands, incense and scent warmers around the room. the computer I do my composing on has a very precise collection of music on it. Not my regular playlist. Special music that inspires and feeds my fiction, including a collection of ancient Sumerian songs recreated by experts in the field to be as close to the originals as possible. Cause, you know, I’m kind of a geek.
Feed Your Muse By Letting Her Fly
When you get stuck, stop working on whatever you’re working on, and write or draw or create something else entirely. Something you haven’t planned. Something that you allow to flow unaltered directly from your muse to you.
Put your fingers to the keyboard or your brush to the canvas and just allow yourself to flow whatever is coming through you without forethought or planning. It’s almost like automatic writing. This is a beautiful creative exercise and opens up the channels like nothing else I’ve tried.
Not every idea is a great idea. Here’s a handy little tool you can use to tell the great ideas from the bad ones. Look at what’s going on in your life, in your mind, in your mood when the idea comes to you. If it comes during a time of stress, frustration, grief, anger, depression, then the idea is born of those things, inspired by those energies. It will inevitably bring you more reasons to feel those very same feelings. Maybe jot it down and set it aside for later consideration, but don’t act on it right then. Look at it again from a brighter place with a higher vibration.
The very best ideas come when you are feeling at the top of your game, when you’re feeling happy, accomplished, capable, brilliant, relaxed, abundant, and wonderful. Ideas that come to you during these times will bring you more reasons for feeling these very things. They will result in you feeling more accomplished, more brilliant, more capable, and far more abundant.
Easy, fun tips, right? Try them and let me know how they work for you! Do you have tips of your own? Share them in comments!