Waiting for Your Muse – Fri, Mar 15, 2013

If you postpone your writing in a wait for the notoriously recalcitrant Euterpe, the Muse of music and lyric poetry (or choose your own personal Muse), you’ll still be waiting when the Grim Reaper comes to collect you. She isn’t coming. That’s her way, and you’d better understand that from the start.

As for inspiration, there’s no such thing. There are ideas that seem to spontaneously spring forth, like the title that you’ve worried about for two weeks, or the nugget that propels you into three months of sweaty work on the next novel. But ask any professional journalist, reporter or writer. A “real“ writer should be able to sit down anywhere at any time and crank out however many words are needed. Are you a writer? Prove it.How do you prove it? By sitting yourself down at the computer, typewriter, with a yellow pad and pencil, chisel and stone tablet, or whatever you prefer, and putting down words, thousands of words. You might have a problem getting started. The refrigerator might be calling you. The lawn may want mowing and the gutters may need cleaning. Ignore them. Ignore your friends, your spouse (spice?), your children, your job, that pending law suit. Once you start writing, you’ll find a groove and the words will start to flow, faster and faster, until you reach your 90,000 word goal. Then you’ll turn around and find that your Muse has been watching your progress over your shoulder. You see, it’s you that has to inspire her, not the other way around. Tricky, huh? You’d better believe it. It took me years of artistic suffering to figure this out.

As I read the above blog post over, I thought that it took a rather hard line. Okay, so I’m a pedantic didact. So what, if I’m right. My “rules” might not fit you. I’ve come to them from my own experience. That’s part of the problem of being a writer: everyone has plenty of advice for you, but in the end, it’s an individual journey and you have to figure it all out for yourself anyway. A writer’s life is fraught with danger.

(The first few paragraphs of this post are a rough excerpt from the how-to-write-a-mystery book I’m working on, Mystery Mastery. It will be available through Amazon by summer, if all goes according to plan.)

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