I asked my writer friends on Facebook and Twitter if they believe in the concept of having a writing muse. I’d just finished ranting in a comment on an agent’s blog about writers enslaving themselves to such a capricious being. I’d posed this question smugly assuming most writers would agree with me.
There were a lot of variations on the theme, but the overwhelming response from most writers in my admittedly informal study said they believe in having a muse. This rocked me back on my heels a bit. In fact, I’m recovering from two surprises.
The first is that they responded as they did, and the second is that they’ve changed my thinking. No, I don’t believe in a capricious entity who decides on a whim if and what I can write. (For a fantasy writer, I can be mighty prosaic.) From the replies I received, my writer friends don’t either.
I sometimes enter into a state of mind where it becomes easy to write. It’s a heightened ability to focus with the well of my creativity primed and ready. I’ve heard this state called by such terms as finding your writing groove, flow, and–yes–your muse.
I am fascinated by such things. Although I’m certain part of this mindset happens for purely physical reasons, much of creativity lies in the spiritual realm. In that sense, it is a brush with the Divine.
So, is there a way to unlock your writing creativity? The process involves two steps. The first is to eliminate the things that strangle your creativity, like stress. The second is to rediscover your creativity.
Neither task is easy, but accomplishing them will reap multiple benefits. Why not list everything you intuitively know is interfering with your creativity. Some culprits that come to mind for me are life stress, time stress, committing myself to too many projects at once, engaging in social networking activities that sap my creativity, having my routine disrupted, writing too much for the market (there has to be a balance for me as an artist), and getting in a rut and living by rote (the tyranny of the necessary). I hope my list inspires you to come up with your own.
Being aware of a problem means you can turn your energies to solving it. So, once you have your list of what needs to change, itemize how you will improve each area. Keep your lists in a place you’ll see them daily to remind you to follow through. If you’re anything like me, if something is out of sight, it can disappear from my thinking.
Now, think about what inspires you. For me, if I read just one page of a Zane Grey book, I have to go write. If I take a walk, ideas tend to flow through my mind. Sometimes certain activities where my mind is relaxed allow room for thinking. Drawing almost immediately unlocks my creativity. Gazing out over the garden in the summer and at the mist in the winter stir my senses and awaken my sense of wonder. When I let myself truly focus on nature, it always amazes me.
Are there certain times that are better for you to write than others? What places spark you as a writer? Does music, the sound of rain, or simple silence cause your writing to sing? Indulging yourself as an artist is not a luxury. For a writer, it is a necessity.
What are the things that hinder or inspire your creativity?