Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding Your Muse

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!

23 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I found this extremely interesting and plenty of tips. Thanks for sharing,

Yvonne.

Jai Joshi said...

All great suggestions, Diane.

A change of scene helps for me most times. Gives me something new to focus on and gain inspiration from.

Jai

Mason Canyon said...

Great tips to get you focused again and inspired no matter what you're doing.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Jemi Fraser said...

Great points! I find music and exercise the best for me. That's when I get most of my ideas. :)

Karen Walker said...

These are all things I try when I feel a bit lost. And they all work.
Good to have you back, spunky.
Karen

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll gladly try movies!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I’m just about ready to give my muse a pink-slip and look for a new one, but now I’ll try your tips first and see if I can woo her back that way.

Eric W. Trant said...

As cheeky as it sounds, beer and wine sure do loosen the lips of the muse.

I wouldn't go further than that, though. You might induce something along the lines of Poe, and who needs that kinda trouble.

- Eric

Nancy J. Parra said...

I use all of these when stuck. Thanks for the great post!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Eric - LOL!!

Helen Ginger said...

I totally agree about changing your focus. Just getting your mind off the problem can loosen things up. Another thing that occasionally works for me is sleep. I often dream my characters.

Michele Emrath said...

Visuals and alternative location are the big ones for me...Reading? Great place to learn, but I can get so caught up in others' works that I don't get back to mine!

I hadn't thought about exercise as a mental stimulant. Funny, I know that it is, but hadn't used it as a muse before! Thanks for the idea.

Hope some of thie is working for you!

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

KarenG said...

Alternative location-- awesome! And of course books, yes, that's where my muse hides regularly.

Vicki Rocho said...

You named every way I could think of to coax the Muse out! The exercise thing is top of my list these days, I keep meaning to go to the gym I've had my best plot breakthroughs while plodding away on the treadmill...but I haven't been in awhile and it's time to get back!

B. Miller said...

Awesome tips and insight for coercing the muse. Thanks for sharing!! :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love the idea of using music to connect with our muse. Maybe I could even come up with different playlists, depending on the type of scene I'm writing.

RaShelle said...

These are all good!!! I need to get moving, to the movies and I L.O.V.E. music. Thanks for the tips (and the kitties). hee hee.

Stephen Tremp said...

I remember reading this post. Its an oldie but a goodie. A common thread is to get up from your chair and go outside and do something different. Serendipidity doesn't manifest itself while one is keeping their chair warm.

Stephen Tremp

Mr. Stupid said...

Changing one's focus does help. These were great tips. I have tried staring at a blank wall. It works!

Peggy Frezon said...

Good tips. How about in the shower, too?!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks everyone!

Patricia Stoltey said...

My muse seems to be hooked on all the new cop shows we've found this summer on television. I hope she's gathering a lot of great ideas for a new book.

Donna M. McDine said...

Absolutely terrific article. Thanks for sharing!