Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Muse For You...

What do you do when your muse is being a jerk?  You want to write.  You’re sitting there, pen in hand or fingers on keyboard; but the creative spark is now barely a fading ember.  Your muse refuses to inspire.  Don’t despair.  The truth is your muse is a figment of your imagination.  He doesn’t exist.  The magical creativity-inspiring voice that whispers inaudibly in your ear… that’s you! 

I struggle to maintain this same revelation time and again.  In truth, I find it all too easy to blame my muse for literary impotence; I have to make a conscious effort to avoid that particular pitfall.  Once you have given power to a fickle muse, you have given him your greatest asset: your creativity.  Believe it or not… your creativity doesn’t go away.  It just goes into hiding.  No, that’s not true either.  Your own doubts and fears get in the way.  Creativity.  Inspiration.  These are not magical rainbows, dependant upon the positions of the planets and the direction of the wind and a fairy princess with a wand.  They are psychological mechanisms.  They are controllable. 

You sit there, struggling to spit out a string of coherent words.  You have the great American novel deep inside you, locked up like a political prisoner in some dark dungeon.  Yet you cannot find the key to his release.  You squeeze your eyes shut.  You pace.  You drink too much coffee.  You try yelling at the walls.  You even revert word play and free association.  None of these are working for you and you are becoming frustrated.  You are ready to punch holes in things that don’t need holes in them.  You’re ready to rip up your old unfinished manuscripts and burn them in sacrifice to whichever cruel god is taunting you.  You’re on the verge of flinging caution and your computer to the wind.  And still… you are stuck.

What now?  How do you defeat your own psychological roadblock?  If the muse is a fairy tale and cannot be summoned, then what hope is there when your mind is your problem?  The first thing you do is set your resolve to full scale.  That’s right; dial it all the way up.  Make up your mind that you will not give up.   There is a thing in you that can only be released through the putting of words into sentences and then sentences into stories.  Set it firmly in your mind that you will not fail to free that thing.  That idea.  Next… write.  While you may think that’s a circular logic for writer’s block, it’s not.  Writer’s block is the thing that prevents us from attempting to write… it is not the inability to write.  If you can sit down and write your name, you have overcome writer’s block.  If you can spit out a sentence about yourself, even if is a simple paragraph about what kind of car you drive, you have overcome your dependence on the elusive muse.

Lower your shoulder and push through that barrier.  Write anything.  Write a long rant about writer’s block and why you despise it and how you think other people should overcome it.  Describe the color of your carpet and why you hate it.  Explain just why you refuse to carry a bow and arrows to the grocery store.  Once you put words to ideas, you have defeated the writer’s block and you have broken your dependence upon the muse.  The moment you realize you are being creative when you thought you could not be is the moment you have become a writer.  That’s when you understand you don’t have to rely upon the whimsical nature of inspiration and you are capable of creating worlds at will.  You can thrust immortals into conflict and yank them again from it.  You can uncover the deepest secrets of the universe and stir the most profound of emotion from even the most stalwart of reader.  You are a writer and the universe is in your hands.