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How to lose your muse in 10 days

Did your muse go on vacation?

Did your muse go on vacation?

1. Don’t write regularly.

2. See #1.

Seriously, that’s it. In my experience, your muse doesn’t show up for work unless you do.

All the other stuff about setting aside the time, figuring out your goals, avoiding distractions…those are just tactics for getting your body in front of the keyboard. To write regularly.

Only you can decide what “regularly” means. For me, it's almost every day. I try to write every weekday and at least review or do something with my story on one day over the weekend.

When I’m struggling with my manuscript, a bit of time away from it can be good, but if I spend days thinking and plotting and agonizing over it, I usually get zip. If I’m writing almost every day, I get into that zone where everything I do brings me ideas. Driving, sleeping, running, walking the dog, watching a movie.

If I’m stuck, I make a note of what’s bothering me and keep writing. I have to stay immersed in the world of those characters if I want them to talk to me.

Something about my current manuscript wasn’t working for me this week, so I revisited the characters’ GMC, did a quick pass of early revisions to align the story with my new understanding of the characters, and started toying with the next scene.

I still felt blocked, but I have (finally) learned to trust that staying in it—keeping my momentum—is the only way I’ll ever get the book written.

And this morning—unfortunately at 4 a.m., but I’ll take it—I was rewarded. I woke with not just one, but four ideas for how to strengthen the story. And I understand why I was blocked: I wasn’t being true to the characters and how they’d react in the situation I have them. (Which, I’ve found, is almost always the problem.)

Your muse wants to work on your story, but if she senses that you’re not committed, she’ll take a vacay to warmer climes.

The only way to get her back is to write.

This a-muses me

Do you ever feel like your muse has abandoned you? Well, maybe that's because you don't have one. Honestly, I believe that my muse is within. It's my subconscious, the universe, the superconscious…whatever.

But just out of curiosity, I looked up the muses. I must have slept through this part of my mythology class, but apparently there were nine. Nine?

Really. And it seems to me that a few of them are a bit redundant.

According to, the following are the nine muses who were goddesses born of Zeus (you know, the head guy) and Mnemosyne (hmm, need a mnemonic for that?).

Calliope was the muse of epic poetry. (Not just any poetry, epic poetry.)

Clio was the muse of history. (This must be how we get those textbooks with creative retellings of history. I think she's been hanging out in Texas lately.)

Erato was the muse of love poetry. (I guess she's as close as I'm going to get to having a muse.)

Euterpe was the muse of music. (Five poetry muses and only one for music? Though most of them sang or played an instrument, so I'm confused.)

Melpomene was the muse of tragedy. (How sad.)

Polyhymnia was the muse of sacred poetry. (Not gonna touch this one.)

Terpsichore was the muse of dance. (A few of the contestants on SYTYCD could use some help from ol' Terpy.)

Thalia was the muse of comedy. (No kidding.)

Urania was the muse of astronomy. (Never would have guessed.)

So apparently the arts back in the day were all music, storytelling, and dance. If you're a painter or sculptor, you're SOL. There's no muse for that. Sorry.

In the end, no matter what we're working on, we can't wait for the muse to whisper in our ear, or provide us with a vision. We make it happen. So, sit down and get started. The rest will fall into place.

And, hey, if a muse does visit you, I'd love to hear about it. If nothing else, it will make a great story.

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