Thursday, July 2, 2015

3 Tips to Work "With" Your Muse

Ask and you shall receive...more help.

That's right. In my last post, I talked about how hard it was for me to write in the summer. That hasn't changed. But hey, a girl can hope. Beg. Pray. Cry. To no avail.

I didn't have work this week (thanks to my really awesome day job, where we were given a holiday shut down--YASS!), so of course, I committed the time off to writing. There's been a decent amount of progress but not the I'm-kicking-mad-ass (what? you've never said that?) amount that I had prayed for. I realized that it was my own desperation that was hurting me.

I took stock of what I was doing in each aspect of my writing process and realized one key point: I had stopped listening to what my muse wanted to do. And instead, I was sort of bullying her...

I was rushing

So for anyone looking to find ways to coerce--I mean--encourage your muse to get sh*t done, hopefully one of these (or all) might inspire you.

1. Create a Story Board

I'm sure I've talked about this before, but I was probably laughing it off as some interesting idea that you should do if you had the time. Well, considering the lack of writing I had been doing...I apparently, had the time. So I created one using a large cork board, post cards, push-pins, and photos. (Picture to come)

I personally don't like to outline stories to the point where I know every minute twist and sub-plot. What I do know is the main plot, the main characters, and over-arching goal (you know...the basics). When you're a writer with a lot of time, this is a very fun process. But...when you're split in three, four, five different directions because life is life...this is more time-consuming and can prove to be a lot more work. Especially if you have a complex Sci-fi/Fantasy world where there are rules to abide by, coupled with a deadline. 

The solution? 

Know as much of your story as possible before writing. OR Take hard stock between beginning, middle, and end so you're certain of where you're heading and like/approve the course. The story board does this. It forced me to see where I had gaps between scenes, or lacking in scenes altogether. 

2. Your Distinct Creative Process

I read a tip from one of those Writer Digest Magazines, which said that a writer needed to learn to write in any situation: loud, quiet, spacious, closet-like, open, closed, tired, alert and awake, what have you. The goal was to train your muse to write anywhere and at anytime. Writing is all about showing up. It's a job. And like any job you have to show up, sit down, and get to work. It's linear and logical. But creative endeavors are far from linear let alone predictable. 

In my mind, I wasn't training my muse well because my life was filled with too many surprises. It wasn't until this break where I conceded that it was more than that. My muse simply worked best when I wasn't writing on a computer. I was my most productive when I was writing in a notebook. 

Seems like more work right? I thought so too. But there was no denying the fact that I was clearly writing more in my notebook, than when I tried to write on my computer. I think it's because there are no distractions. I'm completely absorbed in the scene and writing it all down as it unfolds. So that's my current process. Until my muse gets sick of it, or I injure my wrist from all the furious scribbling. 

Listen and do what works best for you, not how you think it should be for the sake of efficiency, or logic for that matter. 

3. Simple Goals

I won't spend too much time on this one, but one thing that's helped me is to go to bed with the goal of knowing what I want to write the next day. What are the aspects of the next (or current) scene? Who's in it? What are the stakes? I imagine as much of it as I can and then go to bed with it replaying in my mind. 

Make yourself accountable. I saw advertisements for Camp NaNoWriMo the day before it started (which was yesterday). I knew it was a sign. I hope to get a minimum of 50K words written in 31 days via my accountability to the virtual summer camp. Sounds simple right? :) 

With that, good luck my fellow creatives. And thanks for reading! 

P.s. I'm going camping this weekend. Woohoo! Not the virtual kind, the real kind...well sort's more like glamping because there are showers, and a house. Don't judge me! I hate bugs and dirt. >_<


  1. That absolutely sounds like my kind of camping! Hope you have a great time and a wonderful holiday. Great post, too, as my muse has been taking a nice leave of absence lately. I've been coaxing her back this past week though--hopefully she'll decide she wants to play :)

    1. LOL I think our muses are having a party without us! :)

  2. oh yes, I definitely have been learning this too about knowing as much as possible before diving in! As much as I always think I do I never have enough conflict (isn't that horrible lol I hate making my characters unhappy) so I always have to do major changes. I'm such a pantser and I hate it!

    1. It's definitely difficult for me too, Beth! I wish I knew every aspect of the story before diving in. But almost always, I find myself saying that "I'll figure it out when I get there!"

  3. GREAT post, Anna. I've written about how terrible rushing can be for writing, too, and yet i STILL do it. Sigh. Thank you for the reminders, and the good tips!

  4. What awesome tips! Yes, it's tough that our creativity doesn't always coincide with our writing time. Have you tried Club 100? Basically you commit to writing 100 words for 100 days in a row. You track it in a spreadsheet and if you miss a day, you have to start over. 100 words isn't hard to squeeze in at all...and you can write more than 100. You just have to get 100 in every day, no excuses.

  5. I am a glamper too! Down w/dirt and bugs. =) I find writing when I'm tired so hard, though I try my best to power through it. I always think- what if you were under contract right now? Heh...

  6. Glamping is the only way to camp!
    I like your ideas for cattle prodding --I mean encouraging --the muse. I have never tried a story board and I think its time I did. Hmm, I wonder if its too early to put an easel and board on my Christmas list.....

  7. I can't storyboard. I loosely plot (character arcs, beginning, end, 6 to 10 major plot points between, and various little details), then go for it. To truly set the muse free, I don't constrict the plot until draft 2. That's when I break out the technical aspects of a story and force mine to fit the right mold. You have to write for the love of writing, eh?

  8. I tend to overestimate what I can do when I have time off. Sometimes edits happen, which means I can't finish the draft I had my mind on. I share my progress on my Monday post, which keeps me accountable, and I also switch between projects so I'm not bored and won't stall on a project if I'm in the mood to rush.


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