Muse Bait

The other day, my friend Zack asked me one of the classic questions all writer’s have to answer sooner or later: Where do I find ideas or get inspiration?

In answer to that, I give you one of my all time favorite quotes (by Rise Sheridan-Peters in the book No Plot? No Problem!): “Don’t wait for your muse to wander by; go out and drag her home by the hair.”

See, I’m more of a believer in discipline and initiative than inspiration. Inspiration feels like a passive word to me–you can’t write until something comes TO you. It turns writing into some sort of uncontrollable emotion and that’s fine if your writing is a casual hobby, but if you have any interest in becoming a serious writer, you need to move beyond the summer flings and one night stands and get some commitment! I am married to my writing and that means writing even on those days when I don’t always feel in love with my work!

…For those of you who are thinking right now: “Sheesh, obsessed much?” I will point you to a post I wrote a while back about my struggle as a writer with obsession https://missmystra.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/greatest-strengths-strongest-weaknesses/ I should also add that I hope I never put my writing before those I love in my life. The marriage thing is only a metaphor.

 

I just want to emphasize the importance of hard work because I see so many people who start writing projects and never finish them because the initial spark of interest dies away. This makes me sad and it kinda drives me crazy to see them screwing themselves over, but I dunno, maybe they’ll get lucky…or hire a drill sergeant ~shrug~.

However, while I am in favor of the muse-dragging/handcuffing method, even I have a few tricks to lure the elusive muse into a friendlier mood. (Side note: Elusive Muse would make a great name for a band wouldn’t it?)

Muse Bait List:

1. Mowing the lawn.

–I don’t know why, but I’ve thought of so many story ideas and plot solutions while pushing our lawn mower with my headphones playing music. Sadly this only works during summer vacations and now that my family lives in an apartment, who knows when I’ll be able to use this particular device again. But really, doing anything that gets your blood flowing, but doesn’t require much concentration, is a great way to get ideas flowing.

2. Showertime.

–Relaxing and cleansing, there’s nothing that stimulates my imagination like a shower. Unfortunately, you can’t bring a notepad into the shower, so I have to work hard to remember to write down all my ideas afterward.

3. Talking to people.

–Sometimes my friends and family are more creative than I am. Or sometimes I get stuck inside my story and can’t think outside the box. Either way, a conversation can be just the thing to trigger an idea.

4. Insomnia

–I have mild insomnia, which means it takes me a minimum of a half an hour (usually around an hour) to fall asleep. I’ve trained myself to work on story ideas while I wait to fall asleep.

 

5. Read how-to-write books/magazines

–I have no idea why, but nothing puts me in a writing mood like reading Publisher’s Weekly or the aforementioned No Plot? No Problem! It’s hard to find books that are unique in this field, but I definitely have a collection of dog-eared, highlighted gems that have renewed my excitement about writing.

 

6. Join a writing group

–Nothing can intimidate or motivate me to write like having an audience that I know I’ll have to read in front of every week/month etc. When I hear feedback about my story, even if it’s negative, it’s exhilarating to feel that my audience is engaged in the story.

 

So that’s all I can think of now. In my writing news, I’ve finished the first draft of my Rumpelstiltskin retelling and will hopefully start editing it soon. Just like with my Little Mermaid retelling, I have to lengthen it for my creative writing class BUT shorten it for Enchanted Conversation…~groan~. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out :-\

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