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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Do You Believe in Muses?

I'll be honest, I'll believe in fairies before I will in muses.

I may have had a muse, back when I was in fourth grade or so, and then I locked it down in the dungeon chained to a wall and let it die. It's skeleton is right next to the last earthly remains of my Inner Editor.

You don't need a muse to write.

If you're waiting for some chick in a Roman toga to come and beat a story idea into your head you'd better spend your time filling out applications for McDonalds because it isn't going to happen.

Waiting for inspiration to hit your brain isn't going to do anything but eat your time.

"My muse isn't talking to me," a friend told me the other day when I asked why she hadn't written in awhile. The only thing that kept me from slapping sense into her was the Atlantic ocean between us.

"What have you been doing about writing?" I asked, very, very skeptical.

She'd done nothing, as it turned out. She'd watched some movies, had lunch with friends, gone to work, and read a few books, but she hadn't once put her butt in the chair, opened her manuscript up, and started typing.

"I thought you wanted to get this draft done by the end of August," I said.

"Oh! I do! But I don't know if I can..."

You know what, I bet she won't.

Not because she couldn't, but because she's not willing to put in the effort. If the story isn't mugging her in the alley, she ignores it.

The best writers I know are the ones who write every day, in sickness or health, in poverty's vale, between juggling kids, work, and full class loads they write. And the ones who put in the time are the ones I know see reaping the benefits.

One friend has multiple short stories published every month because she's writing and subbing daily. Other friends have multiple partial and full submissions out. It's only a matter of time before they sign publishing contracts.

So don't wait for the muse to hit you.

Don't wait for perfection.

Get out there, get your hands dirty, and go to work.

Yes, it means sometimes you will delete entire scenes because you decide they don't work. And it means long hours editing. And long months beating the manuscript into the perfect shape. But if you want to write, that's the way it's done.

There is no short cut.

Stop waiting for one.

Image courtesy or and copyright to Janna Prosvirina
Sculpture by Antonio Canova, Cleveland Museum of Art


  1. Thanks for posting that. Sometime a good verbal smack up side the head is a great reminder that our books won't get written if we are making excuses.

  2. *hearts post*

    The Muse may be dead, but the Characters live on! And your absolutely right, writing needs discipline. I guess it comes down to what one's motivations in writing are. If it's only a hobby, it makes sense that some wait for the sweet whisperings of the "chick inna toga". But if one is serious about writing, one must apply the junction of one's backside to the seat of a chair and write.

    *see me be good and write* :p

  3. Oh pout! I want a muse to prove my utter specialness!

    It is a good reminder that writing makes you a writer, not waiting for lightning to strike.

  4. Amen.

    Besides, I totally know that the voice I hear sometimes is just my lawn gnome telling me to torch stuff.


  5. Angela that is so funny!

    *slowly raises hand*

    I absolutely have a muse. And she is rearing to go, unless I'm falling asleep on my feet. It's hard to stop her sometimes. She'll pout, kick her feet, jab me with a miniature flaming wooden spoon. I can't even nod and say 'yes, muses don't exist' because I have the scorch marks to prove it.

    To be fair, my muse has only appeared within the last year. Before that, it was a bit haphazard regarding writing. But now, I write virtually every day. It's quickly becoming an addiction.

  6. I love this post! I believe in muses, but I think they only make writing easier. They aren't necessary to write. I'm with quixotic. I must stop making excuses!