Saturday, September 18, 2010

Clubbing the muse

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
Jack London

Jack may have had the right idea. So many times in writing, and in life, we wait for the magic idea, chance, or muse to lead us where we need to go. With anyone in creative endeavors it's almost an epidemic.

"I can't write today, my muse is having fits."

"I simply can NOT paint today, the inspiration hasn't come upon me just yet." Etc, etc, etc.

As a writer, we're consistently exposed to the concept of "muse". A fellow writer might mention their muse woke them up at 5am to write on a streak that lasted through five chapters. A critique partner may say their writing hasn't been up to par because their muse is off dancing the night away at some secret muse-only club.

So what really is that saying about us as creative folks? Do we really believe in ethereal beings that give us our creative ideas? I am a fantasy so writer, so I suppose if any of were to believe it, it would be my ilk. But even I don't believe that.

Or is it just a convenient way to get out of what sometimes can be a drudgery- the BIC FOK situation (Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keyboard)? I can't do the dishes tonight, I'm not inspired?

Or do is it an attempt to wow others by referring to our creative side as something from the gods (ok work with me here- "muses", you know where they came from). A way to increase the mystery of us crazy folks who write books?

Why do we rely on inspiration to get us to buckle down and just get the work done? Has anyone seen a plumber sit back after starting a job and claim he can't finish cause his muse just fled to the Bahamas? Not that writers and other creative folks are plumbers, this house would be flooded if I tried to be one ;). But the fact is that we seem to think that we need to be inspired, or have copious amounts of time, or a wonderful quiet study to get our work done.

I say Jack London was right. We can't sit around and wait for the magic little muse faeries to come share their insight and wisdom- sometimes we have to smack them around a bit. Just to remind them who is boss.


  1. Great post, Marie! Writing isn't about your muse delivering the goods. It's about struggling through blood, sweat and tears to produce something someone else might want to write home about.

  2. I think of my muse as the aspect of me that isn't really the creative spirit, but the contrary spirit. The one that is more likely to get in the way. So, being tough with him is part of the package...

    I write best when he's got his bottle of rum and is singing sea chanties at the rail and letting me steer the boat! ;-)

  3. Thanks Marissa and Maureen :).

    LOL!!!! I never thought about getting a muse drunk and distracted as a way to deal with him- but it sounds like a plan!

  4. LOL! I'm totally going to get my muse drunk. That's hilarious.

  5. LOL! LOVE the comment about getting the muse drunk, and I really enjoyed the blog because I agree that people shouldn't wait for their muse to strike before writing. They should just sit down and write. Yeah, I have struggled with getting words out myself at times, but writing isn't just about fluffy muses tickling a writer's brain. =) As Marissa said, it's sometimes blood, sweat and tears.

  6. My muse NEEDS a drink! She's fond of daiquiris and pina coladas and other drinks that often come with little umbrellas in them.

  7. *hands out grogg (it IS talk like a pirate day ;)) to all the muses*

    Thanks for the comments gals!