What do you do when the Muse is missing?

Writers are not usually a spiritual bunch. But if there is one thing we all worship, it’s our muse. We court it, placate it, promise it whatever it wants, and we live to serve it. Now, if only it would return the favor by showing up on demand!

My usual muse
My usual muse a/k/a Hutch

My muse seems to have left me in the lurch. I am dry, feeling completely uncreative (is that a word?). I’ll get an idea, start a topic, and watch it fizzle in the embers of my mental disarray. What’s a writer to do? Not much? More? Everything!

my muse today
My muse today

My first solution for desertion of the muse (a/k/a writer’s block) is to remember what a romance writer once said on a magazine television show. The story chronicled everyday people who wrote and published romance novels. This group all had contracts with Harlequin. Some had day jobs, some were retired, and all were having a great time and loving seeing their words in print. One of the women had contracts with three of the popular lines of the day. The interviewer asked her, “What do you do when you get writer’s block?” Her expression stopped just this side of an eye roll and she replied, “Do you ask plumbers what they do when they get plumber block? This is a job. I write.”Dan Poynter

Write. Is that that cure for writer’s block? Does it summon the muse from its distant place bringing a renewed well of creativity with it? No. But you can’t edit the blank page. Get the words on the paper (or the screen these days) trust in the process and maybe, just maybe, the process will trust you too. At the end of the day whether or not you can wait for your muse depends on how you view your writing. If it’s a hobby, yep, you can wait. If you see your writing life as a job—that leaky faucet needs to be fixed so—get back to work!Louis L'Amour

What’s your favorite solution for writer’s block? How do you call the muse?

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8 thoughts on “What do you do when the Muse is missing?

  1. Personally, I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I believe in, and am a victim of, self-induced “writer’s laziness.” There, I’ve said/admitted it. It’s crazy to assume I can’t sit down in front of my laptop (hey, I really did write my first book in longhand, honestly!), and write 500 or a thousand words in a day’s session. However, I usually don’t accomplish that goal. Why? Because I’m probably the laziest as*hole writer this side of Hades. I’m not proud of that distinction–it’s merely a fact. I suppose I have ADHD (what the hell is that, anyway? — I can’t remember, but hey, it sounds like a legitimate excuse!).
    So, the cure for “writer’s block” is to get off your lazy a**, place thy buttocks in the chair in front of your computer, typewriter, notebook, and start writing! It’s the cure, and it IS that simple! Don’t copy my habits or you’ll NEVER get anything finished–I can attest to that, although I’ve somehow managed to complete a few works and have been lucky enough to have had them published. My late daddy used to say, “Don’t do as I do, do as I SAY do!” Those are words of wisdom, believe them or not!

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  2. Kait, all that frustration, self-doubt, fear, anxiety. . .it’s actually, as I’m sure you know, just part of the creative process. A vital one, I’d argue. Perhaps even the most important step toward the mystical thing called Artistic Creation.

    I’ve just emerged from that dark place myself, and I’m writing again. So you should, too.

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  3. There are times when the joy, the need, or whatever you want to call it, is inaccessible. Yet, it is still possible to sit down and type out dry, flat prose. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is to be able to type or write fast enough to keep up with the flow of creativity pouring forth. Yes, it is possible to discipline the muse, but not entirely. I’m just emerging (I hope) from a long period of joylessness — deaths in my family combined with health issues for me — in other words, extreme stress. A period I believe is best described as “survival mode.” I’ve known this to happen to others, for various reasons, and eventually it passes — the need to create reemerges. But, it comes back only when it is safe to do so. Sometimes it come back in spurts and sometimes in great floods. For me, it’s taking the discipline of sitting down and coaxing it back through skills I’ve acquired over the years. Creativity is not a switch that can be flipped. Skills are — not creativity.

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    1. Agreed. My laziness in writing is self-induced. When you’ve been knocked flat on your back by life’s unpleasant or tragic circumstances, creativity grinds to a halt. You have to wait for the pieces to work themselves back together and heal. Very sorry to hear of your recent dark days. May the light shine through for you and restore your health, heart, and creativity.

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    2. So true, Susan, and I hope that you are safely emerging from the other side of survival mode. That is an excellent way to describe it. The creativity lack is a double insult in many ways. It would be a lovely to place hide and pour out the words and emotions!

      For those that don’t know, Susan writes the incomparable Thea Campbell mysteries. Her protagonists are the modern embodiment of Tracy and Hepburn. I highly recommend them.

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