The Taming of the Muse


April 18, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

There is no doubt that symbiotic relationship between a writer and their muse can be tempestuous. Muses are capricious; garrulous one day then sullen for weeks on end. That’s not writer’s block, fellow writers, you have pissed off your muse.

Fear not, you don’t have to wait for her to calm down and forgive you while writing deadlines loom and, no, you won’t have to sell your soul to win back her heart. Just remember these five tips:

Feed the Muse:

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way to a muse’s heart is through entertainment. Give your muse what she craves: books, music, television, art, photography, comics, it doesn’t matter. Muses are voracious and will devour it all. You never know what little tidbit will plant a seed in her mind that will grow into a phenomenal idea that she won’t be able to resist sharing.

Listen to the Muse:

It’s not enough to only be open to your muse during planned writing times. Do you only converse with your spouse during specifically scheduled times? Can you imagine their response if you tried to treat them that way? “Sorry, honey. Your scheduled time to talk to me is between 7pm and 10 pm. Can you come back then?” Amplify your spouse’s response by 100, multiply it by PMS, and divide by zero = your muse’s response. You’re never getting anything from her again. Keep notebooks handy everywhere you go. You never know when the muse will speak. You get an idea as you’re drifting off to sleep, get your butt out of bed long enough to scribble it down. If you forget it come morning, your muse will not be forgiving.

Compliment the Muse:

When your muse provides a good session of writing, make sure she knows you’re pleased. Never take her for granted. If all you focus on is what is wrong with your writing, you will hurt her fragile feelings and send her into hiding, feeling unappreciated. Can you say Writer’s Block?

Obey the muse of suffer the consequences.

Heed the Muse:

If the muse starts prodding you with new ideas while you’re deep in the midst of another project, do NOT dismiss them! Arguments about deadlines and time constraints for your current project will be about as effective on your muse as trying to derail a train with a toothpick.  Just accept that she knows more about creativity than you do and take the time to hear her out, even if it’s only to scribble down some notes to come back to later. You never know what a quick break to work on a new idea will reveal and it may just give you fresh eyes and a happier, more talkative muse when you return to the original project.

When in doubt, taunt the muse.

Challenge the Muse:

If all else fails make her read a terrible book or watch the lowest rated movie on Netflix you can find. Muses, vain creatures that they are, secretly love really crappy entertainment because provides them the opportunity to say, “WTH was that? I could do sooooo much better!” Sometimes, they’ll even prove it.

Make no mistake, muses are needy, but they only give as much as they receive. So, heed my advice and you won’t have to spend months at a time grovelling for her to return. Flowers don’t work on muses, by the way. Although they do seem partial to wine and chocolate.

How do you tame your muse?

14 thoughts on “The Taming of the Muse

  1. Christopher says:

    This is awesome. I do have to say that I haven’t actually tamed my muse quite yet, strictly speaking. I would say we’re currently in one of those relationships where we’re both committed, but only at different times. I can’t be bothered some days, and she’s off ‘just having dinner’ with ex-boyfriends.
    We’re currently in couples counselling though and have recently made some great strides. I’ve acknowledged that I don’t nurture her, and she’s agreed to stop ignoring my communication attempts.

    • Dinner with exes??? I see, so they’re not only capricious, but cruel and callous…

      Oh crumbs… I think she caught me… could I get a referral to your counselor? I’m going to need it.

  2. Also, stop worrying about her. She adores affection, but despises worry. Let her run free, like labrador in the dales.

  3. cptam1947 says:

    When my muse has decided to take an unscheduled vacation I grab a book; Butcher, Greene, Patricia Hill or anything in the Urban Fantasy genre and start reading. I am currently in love with the Greywalker series and I’m going through them like a fat man through cheese fries. I am on Downpour now. After about ten or twelve chapters, my wascally wabbit returns from vacation . If that doesn’t work, I start editing old stories which have been rejected and send them out again. Eventually I get back on track, but I never allow a capricious manifestation of my subconscious to stop me from doing a few pages of something a day .

    • Hmmm, the Greywalker series lost me at Labyrinth (the book right before Downpour). It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, maybe it just wasn’t resonating well with me at the time. I should really give that series another go. My muse does miss Chaos the ferret…

  4. Great post Kira. Words cannot express how this rings true. 🙂

    My Muse is famous for throwing fistfuls of ideas at me when I’m working on something novel-sized and doing at least three other non-writing related activities simultaneously: In line at the grocery store, stuck in a traffic jam on the interstate, reading Velveteen Rabbit to a roomful of preschoolers. Really, now?

    This has led to my obsession with buying tiny notebooks and stashing them in every crevice of my life. (Some of which are filled with strange, random and disturbing things that I pray no one ever stumbles across.)

    Anyway, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one with a passive-agressive muse. I’ll definitely be sharing this post. 🙂

  5. Dave Higgins says:

    All of these are good suggestions.

    Of course it is also important to avoid using muse taming as an excuse to watch a film instead of actually write.

    Sometimes I have to just let mine sleep in a box next to the keyboard… or am I confusing it with my cats?

    • You caught me. I totally use my muse as an excuse to watch or read rather than write. Although it does actually help spur me back into writing often enough, it still can be a risky strategy given how few hours there are in a day. Balance between the two is good.

      • Dave Higgins says:

        For me the balance point is when I start analysing a book: I read for enjoyment, so once I start consciously considering how the story is told instead of just reading it I change back to writing.

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