Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm Driving My Muse Crazy

Yes, it's official. I am driving my muse out of her mind. She's completely exasperated with me. But there are two sides to every story.

My muse has been jumping up and down, waving her hands wildly, shouting and, when that doesn't work, she whispers seductively in my ear. See, she has this great idea for a novel. I have to admit, it's pretty good. But I'm not listening. She really needs to slow down, chill a little. For cryin' out loud, let me finish what we've already started.

My muse is in running mode. I, on the other hand, am in amble mode. I want to take a nice, easy walk through the three manuscripts I'm either rewriting or completing. The lunatic... Sorry, my muse wants to start something new. She's always starting something new, insisting I stop what I'm doing and listen to her ideas.

Sound familiar? How do we writers pace ourselves? How do we know when a work is finished and can be sent off into the world in search of a publishing home, and we can move on to the next great idea? Pacing--it's a key element to every story--finding a rhythm, the ebb and flow.

We have to learn to pace ourselves as writers. I always have two or three manuscripts in various stages of completion at any given time. I can work that way--usually. But lately I've been like a rope in a tug of war, pulled between stories clamoring for completion.

So, I'm taking a few days to back up, slow down, and re-prioritize. Otherwise, I'll continue writing much like a dog chasing its own tail. I'll expend a great deal of energy, spin up a good breeze, and get nowhere.

What do you do when your muse runs amok with ideas and is insistent you write them down NOW? It's tricky. You certainly don't want to risk silencing him or her. Tell me, what do you do?

Linda (who has put her muse in a twelve-hour time out)


Infogypsy said...

Great inquiry, Linda. I think perhaps the pull to creating new stories is exciting, but to me, I have to rein it in and discipline the bitch (sorry) to stop pulling at me. I think when I keep wanting to move on to a new idea, it's my resistance to confronting what's not working in what I'm working on and dig deeper into the editing process. That's me, of course, and may not apply to you. Editing/rewriting can be exciting but can also be a huge barrier. I think of the sex scene my editor wanted me to go deeper into or remove from Long Run Home. It took me a week to confront it and I actually had to set my alarm clock and get myself up at 2 a.m. and refusing to let myself go to bed until I'd done the work. It's a discipline thing for me. I can be disciplined in some areas and others, I'm completely without capacity.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda; I used to experience the notions of a rambunctous muse but as I have done, so has it grown with wisdom and slowed to a tolerable rate. When it puts forth a new idea I note it on a postit and stick it on my wall for eventual further consideration.

My muse has learned to respect my decision to tamper down any excessive contribution from her before I'm ready for it. lol. Carol

Carol McPhee: http://www.geocities.com/carolmcphee2003

Therese said...


I am glad to be in the company of writers whose muse drives them crazy at times. Like you, I have a few manuscripts going at a time. However, I don't think I am as disciplined as you are with staying on a schedule with each of them. I agreee with Judi-I tend to have these new ideas and want to move on to the new ideas-when I find myself stuck with something not working just right in the present manuscript(s.) I try to just jot down a few notes on new ideas; I have found that if I get too detailed in notes, I lose the compulsion to write the story.
This is a good topic/question. I had lunch with an old high school/college friend yesterday, and he was asking me how hard it is to pace myself and how to stay focused. I said some of these same things to him.