Does Your Muse Inspire Your Writing?

is the writers muse realYour muse …

Do you have one? Where does that flow come from? Where am I going with this?

Let’s start from the beginning. We all remember some of the crap we wrote. You sat down and started typing (or writing for you hanger-on-ers.) You had an idea and put it down in some form or another. You read it. It was crap. You tossed it.

So now: You sit … thinking. AND thinking some more. AND … more. Aha!

Diving back in, you are on your way to your masterpiece. After a while, you sit back, hands clasped behind your head and you read through your work. What? It’s still crap! What am I doing wrong?

Then one day, you’re not even planning to write. You sit down and jump into a scene, not the sequential part of the work in progress, just a scene. It may not even be from the current project. But … it flows. I don’t mean you write with thought. The words just vomit from your head onto the pages. You are in the zone.

For many, the muse is just a word. It’s not a real thing. But, for those of us who live by the word … it is very real. Actually, it’s beyond real. You try to explain it to someone, and they don’t understand. It’s as real and necessary as the canvas is to a painter and a wrench is to a mechanic.

When we are really writing, it’s as if you are teleported to a different world. We are no longer the writer, but the tool — the wrench. It’s impossible to explain the exhilaration and emotion that we feel as, most assuredly, our mind becomes nothing more than the keyboard on a computer, expressing the thoughts and feelings flowing from somewhere unknown.

But, what is that thing? The Muse. Is it a person? A place? An energy? Well, if I knew that answer, I probably wouldn’t still be working my day job.

Our subconscious mind works in mysterious ways. Does that make our subconscious mind our muse? Hardly. It’s a literal machine. Thoughts in … reality out. However, within the subconscious lies everything you need to tell your story. The key is unlocking it. Whether it happens knowingly or not, people use certain habits, places, or a combination of actions to open the creative process.

Sometimes, when you start writing, the subconscious kicks in and away you go. Other times, it’s a struggle. That’s when we need to lean on our muse. Whatever you think about the existence of your muse — whether you call it muse or inspiration or universal energy — it is there. The key is unlocking it at will. In my next post, we’ll take a look at some ways keep your muse at the ready and your subconscious flowing when you need it most.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “Does Your Muse Inspire Your Writing?”

  1. You’re right. Sometimes it – whatever it is – is there and sometimes it needs a big push. I look forward to your tricks for keeping ME in the driver’s seat. 🙂

  2. Pop psychology calls this “flow state” – it’s the same thing artists call “the muse”. It’s a state where emotional energy is harnessed in conjunction with hyper-focus to achieve a state where high productivity is possible. For whatever reason, our brains LIKE this state, and we experience strong feelings of joy and satisfaction from being there. It’s probably related to zen and buddist thoughts about entering an enlightened state of consciousness.

    The trick is learning how to enter flow state at will. 😉

    1. You’re absolutely right, Kevin. Once you master entering flow state at will, you can really achieve anything in life you wish. You can turn the universe into your ATM. Thanks, Kevin.

  3. My characters are my “muse.” Without them speaking to me, I doubt I could put a single word on paper much less find my voice. I have no sense of direction, no story without them. Where they lead, I follow. At least, that’s how it works for me…

    1. As it does for many people. For me, it’s a little more involved, but when the characters are talking, I know I’m there. Thanks, Linda.

  4. This is great, Jim – can’t wait for Part 2! We’d all like to know the ways you’ve come up with for keeping that flow, um, flowing. 😀

    Here’s something I’ve noticed about the muse or the subconscious or whatever the heck it is: you’re maybe halfway or two-thirds through the story, and suddenly some seemingly minor detail from ‘way back in an earlier chapter becomes a key element! You put it there, and it’s been quietly percolating all along, ready to surface at just the right moment. It’s spooky. Hm. Maybe that’s what I’ll name the muse: Spooky. LOL

    1. Don’t you just love that, Candace? I treasure those little tidbits (which sometimes become huge plot twists). It’s like our subconscious already knows the whole story and it’s just our conscious brains that are having to tease it out. Who’s writing this story, anyway??

      1. I suspect in your case, Melissa, the story often writes itself. You are merely the scribe who tweaks it here and there. That’s why your stories flow so well and wrap themselves around the reader. 🙂

      2. Yes!
        Like the other day, I’m writing away, minding my own business…
        and suddenly one of my characters has a phobia I knew nothing about!
        I seriously had to look it up to see if it was real. (Well, lo and behold, it even has a name!)
        Where this will take me, only my muse knows.
        But I can’t wait to find out!!

        1. Don’t you just love those characters who have minds of their own? It must make the whole writing process truly exciting, not to say unpredictable. You never really know where your story might go next. 🙂

    2. Yes! I’ve learned to love those odd little ‘throw away’ details because they do become incredibly important later on. Thanks so much for putting it into words.

  5. Since the vast majority of my writing has been non-fiction I don’t need a Muse as such. The stories are all there, in my memory and in my notebooks from years working in the African bush. What I do need, however, is a trigger, something to provoke me into telling a particular story.
    Although it’s memoir, I’m not into writing about me, but about people I shared events with, about cultures, tribal life, beliefs, people I knew and so on. I merely happened to be a witness and a bit-part player during events others might fine interesting, and I’m recording cultures and people who are fast disappearing under the onslaught of what we call progress.
    As often as not a chance remark can pull an emotional trigger and let loose a whole story. This happened particularly with Dust of the Danakil. A news broadcast about drought in the Horn of Africa grabbed my attention, fired my neurones and made me remember the work I did in two previous drought in that region, mainly the one in 1973/4, which is what became that book. After that it was merely a six week scribing job. It’s all facts, every bit of it, even the bits that may sound a bit ‘dramatised’.
    The same thing happened with my novel. It was an idea that provoked the tale – Fan Lizhi taking refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing in 1989. The story did the rest.

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