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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tips on Writing - The Myth of the Fragile Muse

People often talk about inspiration in terms of a muse that whispers into their ear. They also talk about creativity as something fragile and use that as an excuse to not write. I contend that what we call our "muse" is only the wonderful subconscious mind and it feeds us "inspiration" when we have fed it plenty of the food it likes most, imagination and imagining. Let me talk a bit about the notion that creativity is a fragile thing. In college, my major course of study was acting. The theatre department was run, at that small school, like a professional acting company, and we produced a minimum of five plays a year. Everyone in the department was expected to do every job in the theatre at least once, and everyone was expected to be in the plays, on the stage, in front of an audience. It was heaven, if you can imagine four years of 14 hour days being anything like heaven. There were people on the campus who weren't part of the department but wanted to participate. Of course they were welcome, there was always a lot to do. The professors used to caution them, however, to be very careful and respectful of the actors during rehearsal and performance nights because creativity was so fragile and so easily shut down. I believed that wholeheartedly and to my core. I believed it partly because it put the actors a bit on a pedestal, but mostly because it fostered the notion that creativity was somehow special and unique to a particular breed of person and that not anyone could access that power. The fragility of that was a very romantic notion, a very seductive one. If I can hold something this fragile, nurture it, care for it gently, grow it into a willowy, wisp-like entity that needed constant care, I am, indeed, a very rare and talented person deserving of special consideration and special treatment. Pampering, by God! Balderdash. I wonder why anyone suffered my presence. Because I believed it about acting, I translated it into my writing and was very, very careful of my "muse". I never forced myself to write if I just didn't feel like it. I feared chasing her away if I did. I feared that the willowy, wisp-like entity would blow away like smoke on a breeze and I'd be left without my soul. Then I found myself in a situation where I had to write, I had a commitment and a time limit. My writing partner and I were writing for an on-going stage production and the scripts had to come out in a very specific time-frame. "I don't want to" wouldn't work, we had to produce scripts. Without even thinking about it, we simply sat down and did it. I found myself in more and more similar situations as the years went by and it caused me to re-examine this belief I took on so heartily in my heady youth. If I could force myself to sit down and create something, even something worthy of putting in front of an audience, no matter what mood I was in or what willful resistance I was experiencing, perhaps that elusive muse wasn't so fragile after all. Or so elusive. Damn it. Another excuse torn asunder. When you get into the habit of writing every day, your muse (if you want to call it that, I have a whole series of posts about what I consider inspiration to really be) will become robust. She will put her head high, puff out her ample bosom, put on boxing gloves and soundly knock any impediment to getting ideas into your grey matter out of her way, then dance around punching the inside of your head until you pay attention to her. The more you write, the more power and vitality she will have. Think Brunhilda with spear, shield and horned hat. Not someone who could be blown away by a mere breeze. Metaphor aside, the more you write, the more power and vitality you will have. Yes, sometimes the best way to write is to push away from the keyboard and take a walk. This is sound advice for anyone who is creative. But there is a big difference between stepping away to let the juices flow and stepping away to indulge in a bit of "I don't want to." If you don't want to, and are afraid you'll damage your creative flow by forcing it, get over your little self, sit down and start typing. You're muse will thank you for it. Article Source: