Monday, December 13, 2010

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:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm all about the music!

Stephen Tremp said...

Music and exercise for me. I have a five mile circuit I walk and shake loose the cobwebs. Lots of great ideas have come from these walks.

Quinn said...

Music and movies ... I think those are the best -- and what I use.

Jules said...

Music, painting and then another location for me. I think my muse is on Christmas holiday though :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jules, mine's been missing for a while...

Raquel Byrnes said...

Usually its a movie to inspire and music to focus...great ideas on the others. I haven't tried them.

notesfromnadir said...

Thanks for these tips as they're all vital to help out when you can get stuck! Recently I was slowing down on 1 of my projects & I decided to jump start it w/ music & it worked.

Tamara Narayan said...

My muse is hanging around watching me blog, write Christmas letters, and read James Patterson's Trial over an hour lunch break. Frankly, I think my muse is rather disgusted with me.

Jai Joshi said...

I've used any and all of these solutions at some point or another. They do help to get the juices running.

Jai

Simon C. Larter said...

But...but...you left out alcohol! Does Hemingway's "write drunk, edit sober" maxim mean *nothing* to you!?

*sighs*

I'll just assume by "alternate location" you meant "bar or bistro."

;)

Laura Marcella said...

Yup, these are all ways I entice my muse! Reading, music, and varying the location work best for me.

Hart Johnson said...

You forgot getting naked. My muse is far more present when I am in the bathtub, and has been known to show up in the shower with fresh ideas (that is when he dances like I like)... but I will shout BOOYAH! on both reading and exercise, too. and maybe a glass of wine. or two... *shifty*

Tara said...

Those are great tricks! Music, new scenery or exercise usually does it for me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Notes from Nadir - good thinking!

Tamara, mine abandoned me completely!

Simon and Hart, feel free to do both!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like the music also and sometimes I just sit down and pound the keys and try to make a sentence.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I do find that a long walk works best for me.

The Old Silly said...

Excellent 'Muse Recapturing' list, Diane!

Lisa said...

These are all really good. You got them all! I love listening to celtic music when I write, something with no singing.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Yes, the music and the pictures work for me. Also the exercise and actually all of them. I think I'm finding my muse already.

Hannah Kincade said...

I agree with all of these. Also I get so many ideas when I'm rolling yarn balls. Whodathunk?

Rayna M. Iyer said...

All of them work at some level, but the one that always works for me is Running. Never fails.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

All of them work at some level, but the one that always works for me is Running. Never fails.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Do you have any with bulldogs? My daughter is c-r-a-z-y about her bulldog, Lola! (-:

Have a great holiday, Big D. and friends!
Best,
Carolyn