Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dancing With Your Muse

Okay, so what do we writers do when our muse takes a vacation?

Some writers refer to this time as a period of 'writer's block'. I don't personally believe in writer's block. The term implies that one has the inability to write anything. I can always write something, just not necessarily what I want to write.

But I admit there are those times when I find myself pulled up at a standstill, unable to find the words for the next sentence, unsure of which turn to take that will further my plot. It's usually at those times that my heroine (bless her heart) becomes selectively mute--not giving me any hint of where she wants to go next.

What do we writers do? We sit and stare at a blank computer screen. Or, perhaps, we minimize the blank document and play Solitaire. Occasionally we even resort to drastic measures like housecleaning! Some writers shut down the computer entirely and put all writing aside for a day or two--or a week, or a month, or... But at some point, you have to come back and try again. And, if the inspiration is still not there, if your muse is still off dancing on some exotic beach with a Margarita in her hand--then what do you do?

My suggestion? Join her. Dance with your muse. Clink your glasses together and laugh at that nagging voice in your head that keeps shouting: "You must write something!" Know what I think will happen next? I think your muse will smile, take a sip of her Margarita (or coffee, or iced tea), tilt her head and whisper, "Want to hear a great story?"

Writing is work, and it is challenging. But, the day it ceases to be fun is the day I switch to Solitaire, or just shut down the laptop and watch TV. Nothing will squelch creativity faster than the sense that you have to do it--a performance anxiety of sorts.

So, relax. Dance with your muse, and wait to hear what she has to say next.

Happy writing!



Infogypsy said...

Good subject and great suggestions. I agree. Dancing with the muse is great; much better than wrestling or succumbing to her. I have recently discovered the way for me to dance with mine is to love the struggle instead of making myself wrong for having periods of down time. I realized I've been thinking it's wrong to struggle so much with writing, and so now I have a new interpretation I created where as I struggle with a word, or a phrase, I interpret it to mean I have the Hemingway style of writing; I'm someone who has to have everey word poetry. That's okay, no problem and so I love that struggle now - judi

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm the poster child for writer's block since I haven't still written a good word since November. Perhaps I will open a bottle of wine this weekend, pull up two chairs and have a little conversation with my hero and heroine and find out why they won't tell me how to get them together (and what conflict will keep them apart). Is it illegal and unethical to ply your characters with alcohol when you're writing YA?