The Care And Feeding of Muses: What Inspires You?

We writers, well any artistic type for that matter, are an odd bunch. When the words are flowing and the plot is coming together, it’s all us.  Our ideas and aren’t we so smart, witty and amazing? As soon as the well runs dry, we blame the creativity drought on a capricious Greek demi-goddess and her moods.

"You want to finish that chapter tonight? I want to listen to 'Same Mistake' on loop while you do.

“You want to finish that chapter tonight? I want to listen to ‘Same Mistake’ on loop while you do.

Yep, I’m talking about the whimsical, wonderful, wicked Muse. When mine is in full swing, she likes to listen to the same song over and over again and eat candy. Hot Tamales candy, to be precise.  It doesn’t matter that I break out in hives from it sometimes (the red dye, I guess), I have to honestly admit that I love when the Muse takes over.  It’s like having a substitute teacher or a favorite baby sitter around. All allergy worry goes right out the window, along with concern that if the candy keeps going in, my behind will need it’s own zip code.  Whatever keeps the creativity flowing and the fact that I’ll forever associate some songs with the burning sweetness of those evil red candies is a side effect I can live with. When you consider that other very famous writers courted their Muses with alcohol and drugs, candy is harmless…well, unless you count the whole allergy to it and the deep seated need to NOT look like Violet from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

Do I really believe some invisible goddess of inspiration that looks like Olivia Newton John or Sharon Stone is sulking around when I pass the candy aisle and buy salad stuff instead?  Do I really think she punishes me for that transgression later when I’m staring at the latest writing project as if I’ve never seen it before?

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She looks like this because I eat the candy, not her.

Of course I don’t. (I kinda might, but that’s just between you and I, okay?) The thing that interests me about the whole muse concept is that we are perfectly okay with placing our ideas outside of ourselves, and give credit to a magical creature instead of the information crammed biocomputer we call a brain. Thank God for the talents and gifts He/She/They gave you, by all means. I’m not knocking faith. I’m wondering why we don’t keep the faith in ourselves, though.  We are the ones that come up blank sometimes, not a bratty goddess who just wants to make us miserable. We are the ones who wake up with the BEST idea and have to write it down before we forget. What’s wrong with owning that? Sure, it takes the choice to binge on candy, booze or whatever and puts it on us, too, but that’s fine. Once we claim that creative power for ourselves, we control it. We can tap it when we need to, instead of waiting for a muse to smile on us.

What trips the creative process switch for you? What tricks do you use to get the flow going when your story runs a little flat?

Hot Tamales and listening to “It Ends Tonight” on repeat helps me.  My muse likes it.


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