Okay. Now I’m finally back. Obviously, I’m ridiculously behind, so I’m not really hoping to finish the A to Z Challenge in time.
Someone suggested that I just drop in on today’s letter, but the thing is… I just don’t want to do that. I was really enjoying writing these posts, so it just feels a bit off for me to skip like half the alphabet in an attempt to conform to some sort of arbitrary expectation.
Sorry if I’m sounding like I’m being all faux academic. Really, I’m not. I’m really just pulling words out of the ether as I’m writing this. And the post will go live as soon as I’m done. I know, I know. I wouldn’t even be in this pickle if I’d just scheduled posts ahead but… You know what? I like living on the edge even if I fall off every now and then.
What I’m going to do is change the name a bit and call my posts for the A to Z Challenge (and Beyond) the A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing and then I’m just going to keep going on my own time until the posts are done.
Maybe, when I’m done, I might decide to start another A to Z series, because I’m enjoying the mental acrobatics involved, but we’ll see. In the meantime:
Today, I’m at M, which in my mind stands for Muse.
No, not the band – although they’re EPIC.
I’m talking about the muse. Your muse. My muse. Different muses.
I used to write about mine (even in passing) much more than I do these days. Mostly, it’s because someone ALWAYS comments that “Muses don’t exist and you should just write”. And although this is sort of true, it’s a bit tiring to keep explaining that I’m not really all airy fairy in my approach to writing. (I think my recent monthly posts on my writing progress might have convinced people of this. But there you go.)
I suspect, from those “Muses don’t exist” comments that not all writers have the same experience as me. Or if they do, they’ve shoved their muse into some faraway corner of their imagination in an effort to simplify their writing process. Which is, of course, just as valid an approach to writing as mine.
This is still important for everyone to know, though, so even if you’re rolling your eyes, shush a moment longer and pay attention.
See, whatever you think, you as a writer need to make sure you have a healthy relationship with your writing. Your muse, if you will.
The way I look at it, my creativity in general and my writing creativity specifically comes from some place other than my writing thought. So I’m a very intuitive writer, I suppose, writing words down literally as they come to me. (Although the words do sometimes come faster than I can write them down.) There is, however, not much along the lines of conscious thought to my writing efforts. Especially when I’m drafting fiction.
So for me, the muse idea works, in the sense of it’s a psychological embodiment of my creative efforts. So to me, it’s not a question of muses existing or not. Mine (both of them) exist because I called them into existence the same way I call my characters into existence. (In fact, one of my muses is one of my characters in my fantasy series.)
However, you might prefer to call a muse your creativity, or your dedication to a story, or your desire to write a story down, or the million little moments of inspiration that go into creating a story. That’s exactly what a muse is.
I just call them my muses because it’s a bit catchier.
Now that I have that sorted, let me get to the important things you should know about muses.
1) Muses are very erratic creatures, so you can’t sit around waiting for them to inspire you to write.
2) Muses can (and will, if you let them) bury you under new ideas. In a sense, that’s their job. Your job is to finish ideas one at a time so you can actually call things done.
That’s pretty much it, really. Muses give you ideas, but they don’t give you the determination or dedication to your story that you’ll need to finish it. You will, however, find that if you show dedication and determination, your muse will be kinder to you.
Not always, mind you. But if you commit to finishing a story until that commitment is part of your process, your muse will give you the inspiration needed to know what you should be writing down.
But read this and absorb it:
Muses don’t make us want to write.
That comes from our dedication to and love of our story. It took me a while to learn this, which is why I’m putting this bluntly. The sooner you learn this, the sooner you’ll become an efficient writer.
Do you believe in muses? What’s yours like? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about your creative process?