Someone had to say it, so I did. You’re Muse is dead, and so is mine. All of the anger and denial in the world cannot change that fact. You may feel as if the grieving process is setting in, but for those who are in mourning, my advice is to get over it, and as quickly as possible. This may be a terrible thing to say to one in sorrow for the loss of a love done, but the truth is not so much that you’re Muse is dead. More to the point, she never really existed.
The Trouble With Muses
We are all familiar with the Classical Muses. They were nine spirit-being sisters that belonged to the Greek Pantheon. It was their responsibility to provide direct and immediate divine inspiration for all artists. Ancient writers, such as Homer and Virgil, as well as ones closer to our times, like Milton and Joyce, appealed to the Muse to help them compose.
The Muse has become a symbol today for whatever inspires a writer. This could be something as broad as observing some interaction between folks that gives the writer an idea for a story. Or it could be a conversation overheard that the author feels may be reworked and put into the next novel.
There is another use for the figure of the Muse and that is to have her stand for motivation, and that is just sad. Many writers, including yours truly, have used a lack of inspiration as an excuse not to write. “I can’t write today. I’m just not inspired.” Does that sound familiar?
This excuse does not work in any other professional field, so writers should not be so especially privileged to avail themselves to it. Never has a lawyer failed to appear in court because he did not feel like practicing law that day. You’ll never hear of construction workers sitting about waiting to be inspired. And there has never been a teacher who missed class because of teacher’s block.
Writer’s block is another example of people blaming the absence of a Muse for their lack of productivity. When you get down to it, writer’s block is nothing more than attempting to write a perfect first draft. There’s no such thing as a perfect one-hundredth draft, so a perfect first draft is an ontological impossibility.
It was this drive for a perfect first draft that made me edit fiercely as I wrote. It took me almost four years to finish the initial draft, and then another four years to rewrite it properly, even though I’m sure it could still use some work. I would spend days on a paragraph and weeks on a page, all to make it flawless before I move on.
This mindset carried over into my second novel. I suffered from writer’s block for five months. It wasn’t because I didn’t know what came in the next scene. I was compelled to get it perfect the first time, and my Muse didn’t rescue me! There’s a surefire way to conquer writer’s block, and that is to get over your self and write. We need to give ourselves permission to write badly, as long as we commit ourselves to editing enormously.
Dedication Over Inspiration
Instead of waiting for the words to mystically come to you from above the bright blue, maybe writers should just hunker down and write. You are not going to feel Inspired to write every day outside of a self-governing motivation that is arises from your commitment to being a writer.
If you only sat down to compose when you felt this bit of Inspiration, then not only would you not write every day, but it’ll be at different times and different days. That also means you would have to write while in the shower or while driving or even while you are sleeping, because Inspiration may come at any time and under any circumstance.
If taking over the world is your measure for success, then it is time we went to the garage and pulled out a certain tool needed to accomplish this: the Ladder of Success. Notice that it is not the Elevator or the Escalator of Success. It’s also not Star Trek’s Transporter of Success, nor is it Doctor Who’s Tardis of Success. It’s a Ladder.
A Ladder only works because you climb it slowly one wrung at a time. You climb it by pulling yourself upward. That is how success is accomplished – slowly, one step at a time, and by our hard effort. No one pulls you up, and no one pushes you up. You are on your own. You may receive some help now and then, but basically, no one will make you successful but you.
Climbing the Ladder of Success means setting goals. Some people climb the Ladder of Success only to find out too late they set it against the wrong wall. You need to know what you are trying to accomplish. You need a clearly defined meaning of Success.
Setting goals means you must establish priorities. These are the means by which you accomplish your goal. The college student who strives for a 4.0 GPA will not be out every night with friends, but with his textbooks. He won’t be hanging out eating pizza, but hanging tough digesting the course material. He will be out of his dorm room, but not out on the town, but studying in the library.
The creative writer has his definition of success, and knows there must be effort put into platform building, online social media networking, and marketing designs. But all of this is unpulled taffy if the writer is not committed to the craft of writing to the point of writing every day.
So your Muse is dead. Big deal, she never existed anyway. Or maybe this can be said another way. Maybe your Muse is not dead, but alive. Maybe she exists in you because she is a living part of you. Best said, she is you. Creative writers who are committed to success realize that they are their own Muse.
Where do you get your Inspiration to write. what do you do when you need to write but you don’t feel Inspired? I would love to know. Let me know in the Comment section below. I would also like to encourage you to Share or Tweet this if you liked this. Maybe your friends will enjoy it, too.