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Writing a book doesn’t mean waiting for the muse

April 6, 2013

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The book was written in a burst of imagination. I can’t explain really what happened, but it was like all the planets aligned one afternoon, and I just sat down and scribbled out this wonderful short story.

Perhaps you’ve heard some writer use such words to describe how he came to create some body of work. The writer, perhaps a celebrated author who appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, insists that some mysterious force suddenly tapped him on the shoulder and commanded, “Write this.” And the writer immediately fled to his computer and spilled out the words.

I think many of us want to believe that there are forces out there beyond our control, muses, if you will, that come along and guide us through the creative process.

Of course, this begs the question: Why does it visit some people and not others? Or, are some people just naturally creative or have some innate ability to summon up this muse?

As I’ve written in my book, Write the Darn Book, the muse is a myth. It doesn’t exist. It’s another one of those phantom literary legends that the writing community has embraced through the ages.

We are all our own muses. We all have the ability to summon up the creativity needed to start and finish books or other writing projects.

All it takes is an idea, reaching deep into our souls for that book within us and letting the words come pouring out in a torrent.

It sounds pretty easy, and it is. But of course, so many of us are resistant to this process. Why? Likely, a belief that writing has to be hard. That anything worth doing involves sweat and worry and plenty of angst.

Writing a book takes a commitment. Make no mistake about it. But it doesn’t have to be the ordeal many think it should be. And it certainly doesn’t involves sitting around for many days at a time waiting for the muse to come along.

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5 Comments
  1. To write a book you don’t have to wait until you can comfortably say you are a writer when you’re at the hair salon making small talk. (it took me about 7 years to admit to people I was writing a novel). You can’t wait until you have the confidence or the right laptop. You shouldn’t wait until you get all of the housework done and the telephone calls over with. That second pot of coffee can wait. I didn’t write because the world was going to end. I didn’t write because others had written all there was to write. I didn’t do it because the self loathing deadened my soul and blank paper felt painful to look at. Luckily after a while I couldn’t stand being such a coward and just started. I had a tiny idea–no great muse thing. I told myself I’d write three pages each day for one month without judging or rereading and that’s it. That’s how I wrote and still write thousands of pages later. Before I wrote I imagined critics and publishing and years spent in lonely solitude. Once I got about 100 pages in (and those pages were mostly cut out later) I finally felt a muse like thing happening–but it was really just discipline and with that the discovery of what I was actually into and interested in writing about. I’m not going to lie and say I now have perfect confidence and perfect writing, but I can say I found my purpose and an intense love for my characters that pushes me to get them out there in any way possible. The idea of publishing used to mean for me that I would have arrived–an ego thing–but now it’s more a devotion to the people in the world I created (maybe that’s a bigger ego/God thing?) haha.

  2. Thanks for your feedback. Hopefully, others will see that they don’t have to wait for the so-called muse to begin writing.

  3. I like to believe that my Muse comes to visit once in a while (which is why I carry little note books with me) but I don’t necessarily wait for her to show up. I write a bit everyday whether she is here or not.

    • Well sure. Interesting thoughts do come into our heads at different times. But a muse is not something writers should wait for. Kind of like waiting for Godot.

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