Making Your Muse Work

Posted Sep 4 2012, 12:04 pm in , , , , , , , , ,

Among writers, the discussion of a muse is one that comes up often. You will hear writers (many of whom have yet to finish a MS) say that they couldn’t write because their muse wouldn’t cooperate or that they had writer’s block. I’m not sure I believe in either of these concepts. I think creative types must have some kind of muse (for lack of a better word) because we do hear voices in our heads and our characters become people. We understand them the same way we “get” our friends. That being said, I’ve never been one to be ruled by my muse.

Last week, when I wrote about Allie Pleiter’s workshop, I mentioned that it’s important to understand how you work best as a writer. I’m a small chunk person. I’ve trained myself to write while my kids are in their extracurricular activities. During her presentation, Allie pointed out that you can control your muse. You just have to train yourself to do it. For some people, it’s a routine, or a time or place to write. For others, they use visual or auditory aids. Way back in February, I mentioned that I had taken a class with Lani Diane Rich (AKA Lucy March) on Discovery (scroll down to Music as Inspiration). Discovery is basically taking time to get to really know your characters before you sit down to write. Prior to taking this class, my version of discovery was to write about 20-30,000 words and then trash them all because I realized that I was just figuring out characters and not really writing a book.

The class taught me to collage and make a soundtrack for my novel. Although I’ve always written to music, I never thought about creating a soundtrack. I love music, but I’m a lazy listener. My car radio stays on the same station all the time. I can set my iPod to shuffle and be content. Music often inspires stories for me (especially now), but I have a hard time figuring out where to find music that will work. This is something I still struggle with, so if you have any ideas, let me know.

Today, this post is really supposed to be about collaging. Collages scared me because I had seen some of Jennifer Cruisie’s collages. The woman is an artist and I knew I would never be able to create something so beautiful. After taking Lani’s class, though, I realized that I didn’t need to make a 3-D monstrosity that would make people jealous; I just needed to give myself visual cues to keep me focused. After I completed my collages, which I did using scrapbook supplies, I posted them on a bulletin board above my desk. 


These visuals became so helpful for my WIP that I went back and created collages for the book I had finished but needed to revise (book 2 for my contract). Part of my problem with that book was that I never took the time to get to know the characters. Creating the collages helped. What you see in the photo are the collages I made for both books. Since the books share characters, I keep them up all the time. When I sit down in my writing space, I’m surrounded by my characters. It helps push me into writing mode. Although I’ve used some pretty famous people as placeholders for my characters, when I see those faces, I only think of the O’Learys. I no longer see the actors for who they are. In fact, for some of them, I’d be hard-pressed to remember what they’re names are.

How do you control your muse when you need to accomplish something?

1 Comment


One response to “Making Your Muse Work”

  1. Tina Moss says:

    Great ideas! I’ve never been able to do the soundtrack because I can’t write to music. I get too distracted by the lyrics. But, I do like to use music and pictures as inspiration as well as getting to know my characters.