In Search of the Elusive Muse

searching for the museIn my last post, we discussed the existence of the muse. This week … we’ll go on a search for the muse!

For each of us, the muse is different. We all have our times when our muse delivers a stream of subconsciousness that makes us cry tears of joy when we finish a chapter. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the muse. It can be living or inanimate. It could be a place, a person, a process or ritual, an activity or music. Sometimes it just shows up and we don’t know how or where it came from.

The key is finding it, placing it “on demand” or maintaining the connection.

Here’s the rub. Finding your muse is not a search for a thing or place. It’s not turning over stones until you say, “Aha! There you are!” It’s quite the opposite.

It all starts within. We have to look inside and find out what inspires us. Reflection, meditation, and other tools will help you self-examine. Ask the questions and achieve a better understanding of who we are and what is our purpose.

Keep in mind, the muse is not always who or what we want it to be. It might be inspirational, motivational, or create those goose bumps when you know you’re in the flow. For others it might be a very dark place. It might be ugly, immoral or even outright scary.

To help you get started in this process — locating and maintaining your muse — I’ll throw out some questions that you need to answer by looking deep inside. There are no right or wrong answers and your answers don’t have to be worldly. They just have to be honest. Brutally honest. Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that your writing is altruistic when deep inside, you want to be rich and famous. Take moment and write down the real answers to these questions:

  1. What keeps you focused on your goals?
  2. What makes you feel alive?
  3. What drives you?
  4. What gets you completely jazzed?
  5. What is really important to you?
  6. What things would you never compromise in life?

Now, look at your answers. The real answers. Not the answers you would post in a Facebook group. Examine the answers and ask the question “Is this what I’m telling my subconscious mind?” Once your conscious and unconscious mind are in agreement, things happen. Good or bad. One of the most important tasks of the unconscious mind it making sure that your outside world matches your inner unconscious thoughts. And, that’s powerful.

What does all this have to do with your muse? Everything. Your brain handles about 90,000 thoughts per day. Guess what, about 96% of those thoughts are the same thoughts you had yesterday. Having trouble finding your muse? Change your thinking.

It takes work, but you have absolute power over your thoughts and beliefs. And, it can change in a moment. Have you ever had those days where you try to write and nothing happens? Nothing seems to be working. The feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and even anger start to creep into your mind. It becomes a vicious cycle. “I’ve got to get another 2,000 words today,” you scream.

STOP! Don’t do it.

Take a break, whether it’s a few hours or a few days. Trust me, the drivel that comes out when you are not in the flow will cost you more time and energy during editing and revisions. Work on yourself and your underlying emotions. Set the writing aside and get to the root of the problem. Your muse is sitting in your unconscious mind waiting to get to work. You just have a bunch of crap in the way.

Get back to the basics. Ask yourself the above questions all over again. Work with whatever methods help you center yourself. Send the right type of thoughts to your unconscious mind and the gates will open. Your muse wants to work. With the proper practice, training and thoughts, you can have your muse at your beckon call.

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.

12 thoughts on “In Search of the Elusive Muse”

  1. Something else I might add is allowing yourself to ponder. I’m in a fallow period right now, finished my last book and haven’t yet seen the light bulb go on for my next one. I’m finding that almost everything I see, hear, or experience has the kernel of a book idea in it. I see Canada geese flying overhead; a homeless man on a corner with a dog; a photo in the paper of a rollover accident where a man spent 3 days down a cliff in his wrecked car. I like to take these snippets of life and hold them for a few moments, see if they have more to tell, see if other incidents or ideas begin to appear, like stepping stones conjured up in front of me. Some might call this nothing more than daydreaming, but we writers know this is part of our work. Let the muse in. Give her/him/it time to manifest. Thanks for a good, timely post.

    1. I never would have known that about you, Yvonne! Anything that gets the juices flowing. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Interesting. I’ve never had days where I couldn’t write. There are times I’ve been stumped on the project I had planned to write on, but I’ve never had a moment where there was nothing I could write. And even on days when things weren’t going perfectly, I’ve always found something to write about.

    I think on those days when you have something that needs to be written, but you’re not feeling it, you just muscle through and work it out in revisions.

    It’s wonderful when you’re one hundred percent pumped and everything flows like milk and honey, but those days aren’t every day. When they don’t happen, we still write. We just appreciate all the more how awesome those days we fired on all cylinders were.

    1. RJ, you’re one of the 4%. I can totally relate. You’re inline both inside and out. The only problem is having enough time to write. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks, Jim. I’ve learned the hard way that when the writing/muse won’t come, it’s because something is wrong, either in me or in the direction I’ve taken a particular story. It’s a little bit like taking a dog for a walk in a direction it doesn’t want to go. Taking a bit of time off allows my conscious brain to stop being quite so stubborn. Then the subconscious gets to work again. 🙂

  4. Hi Jim,

    Here is something that works for me: Sometimes there is nothing wrong with what you wrote; it is just that you have either physically tired yourself out and/or mentally tired your brain out with what you are writing. When you reach that point: stop trying to force your ridged story line thinking, instead, without thinking about it just quickly reread the last page or two, save and close the file, get up and go do something else. If your tired go to bed or take a nap, but Don’t watch TV or go on Facebook or start to IM anyone.

    Instead, imagine or dream you are one of your characters and imagine your bumbling along in your story, visualize what you see around you and what you or others are doing in the story. You are actually in the story somewhere so it is ok to talk to the other characters in your story, ask them what’s happening? They may not know either because you haven’t told them yet. If they don’t know tell them what you think is happening so far, have a conversation with them. It is alright to talk to them, you are just talking to yourself. They should be real in your head, between your ears. behind your eyes. Pretend you are your characters and act out what they are doing and you will discover who they really are and where they will take your story next. You might even discover a new character in the background, you.

    I hope this helps and makes sense to you, it does to me.
    Best wishes,
    JB Wocoski

    1. Thanks JB. Very insightful. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing your methods with others.

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