I wrote this article earlier this year for The Literary Lynnch Pen
Finding Your Muse
Our muse is an intricate and complex creature. She can fill our heads with the most glorious images. She inspires our fingers to frantically record the scenes unfolding in our minds. Unfortunately, she can also turn elusive, hiding when we need her the most.
How do we find our muse again? We can stare at our computer screens and just hope she will return. We can force the issue and spend hours pounding out meaningless words. But, if she’s not responding, then we must turn to our creativity to bring her out of seclusion.
Here are six tips for enticing a shy muse:
Music - It stirs the soul. Select music that will invigorate the emotions. Revel in the joy and excitement. Feel moved by the sorrow and anger. Focus on the images the sound inspires. Submersion is important, so either headphones or a loud volume is suggested for a complete experience.
Visuals - A picture is worth a thousand words. We tend to be visual creatures. Photo books and the Internet are great resources. Look for inspiring scenes that connect to the story. Perhaps waves crashing on the beach, a busy downtown street, or a camel in the desert. Get lost in a beautiful piece of artwork. These images can take us to new places and reveal the heart of our story.
Reading - Books are a great source of knowledge. A scene in our favorite author’s book might ignite our imagination. A dialogue exchange can send our character’s conversation in a divergent direction. Descriptions can help us envision our own settings. Perhaps it’s the author’s writing style and voice. Even a writing tips article or book can provide fresh ideas.
Alternative location - A change of scenery does wonders for the spirit. We can take a long walk or drive and just let our minds wander. A vacation, even a simple day trip, takes us away from surroundings that might feel stifling. Our soul will feel refreshed upon our return. If we have the opportunity, viewing our story’s location brings clarity and a sense of realism. We must always remember a notepad and pen as well!
Movies - A means of escape. For two hours, we get it all - music, visuals, a storyline, and a new location. Stuck on a love scene? Try a romance. Character development? Drama. Action scene? Thriller or action-adventure. Out of this world location? Science fiction or fantasy. Attacking multiple senses at once, movies can jump-start our emotional involvement and commitment.
Exercise - It does a body (and mind) good! Physical activity requires effort and focus. Our mind empties and grows clear. An idea hidden by all the internal and external ‘noise’ suddenly comes to the surface. If we are tired or feeling lethargic, exercise will invigorate us. At the very least, we can pound out our frustrations on something besides our keyboard!
Next time your muse plays hard to get, try one of these tricks to capture her again. Muse hunting season is now open!