As writers, we often feel solitary. But are creative people ever really alone? Only if they ignore their Muse, the being that helps translate the creative energies of the universe into concepts, pictures, music, poetry, stories, and art. The very personification of inspiration.
Your Muse has one job - to help you create. Your Muse exists in your life to inspire and apply the Promethean fire of creativity. What the Muse desires is for you to listen to her voice. Sit quietly and express what the Muse breathes in your ear. Release expectation and allow for a continuous flow of creative energy and your Muse will be satisfied.
While you are in the thrall of your Muse there are things that YOU can do to screw things up. If you start to edit your work before it is ready to edit, that is, before the first draft is complete, before the Muse has finished expressing herself through your fingers, the Muse will be forced to stop or slow down while you wander backwards looking for some vague thing to correct or restructure, when that does not matter in the initial run of inspiration.
What often occurs is that, while you are blissfully listening to your Muse sing inside your mind, other little voices start to pop up. Oft times writers have many of the same or at least very similar voices, like the one that says, “You stink at this,” or the one that says, “Shouldn’t you be doing something useful with your life?” These are easy to deal with, for the most part. They are big and noisy and wrong and any writer worth their salt will have ego-boosting strategies in place to handle such ridiculous self-degradation.
No, it is not the big noises that will trip up your relationship with your Muse. It is all the little tips and hints given by all the successful authors who write helpful articles designed to assist you to get published the same exact way they did. “Follow these rules,” they insist, “and wealth and fame will come to you and your descendants!”
Your Muse is not amused by their rules. Your Muse wants you to be free and let flow the creative spirit. Here are seven things I have noticed that the Muse, YOUR Muse or mine, does not care about at all.
You Muse does not care about:
1) The Oxford Comma – If you do not know what this is, then you must learn it, but not while you are in first draft mode and fully engaged with your creative Muse.
2) Words that end in “ly,” or as I call it, the Stephen King rule. This is something that King wrote about once and it has passed into MFA programs as some stone-carved commandment of writing. Just write, and if you use too many adverbs they can be edited out later. Or not.
3) Word count for the day – Let go the need to quantify your work. Just write until you are finished. When you are inspired again, then write some more.
4) Platform – There are those who insist you begin creating your platform before you even begin creating your book. This is putting the cart before the horse, in my humble opinion. I have seen many fine platforms (websites and blogs, etc.) that never ever actually reward the follower with the promised product. The time and effort wasted in this activity (for all concerned) can be better spent allowing for the fulfillment of your Muse’s creative vision first.
5) Spelling and punctuation – The Muse just does not care all that much, especially in the first draft.
6) Outlines – Do not attempt to structure your Muse. The Muse will rebel. Muse rebellion is hell.
7) Whether someone will buy your book – The Muse only wants the book written. Do you like it? Do you feel good when that first draft is in process? That is all that matters. Seeking validation outside of yourself will certainly lead to comprising the Muse’s vision and forcing artificial structure on the process.
Let’s be clear; these concerns gain importance at some point. Later in the process you must pay attention to structure and logic. For the purest first draft, let your Muse run wild. Allow for surprises. If you are surprised by a plot twist, imagine the reaction from the equally surprised reader! Allow for synchronicities and…
Let old patterns and standardized formulas be blown apart and away by the speed you write while under the influence of your Muse! In first draft mode the only rule you must be concerned with is - Let YOUR Muse Rule!
I will be presenting a workshop, “Write from the Heart: The Care and Feeding of Your Muse,” at the Southern California Writers Conference (www.writersconference.com) on the morning of September 27, 2015. A fine way to feed the Muse is to connect with others of like mind. I hope you can come and join us or find a conference in your area that feels inspiring to you.