Quit Babying Your Muse

Quit Babying Your Muse
Original image credit: Kyle Flood, flickr.com

I’m tired of picturing the muse as some flighty, flaky Victorian virgin who comes a-calling only when the tea’s put on and she damn well feels like it. That sort of behavior is inconvenient at best for a writer trying to make a living.

Instead, what if you treated your muse… like an employee?

I don’t know how yours does it, but my muse seems to enjoy watching me sleep. That is, my best ideas materialize about three minutes before I drift into dreamland. The ideas stay there, wheeling around in my unconscious subconscious until about three minutes after I open my eyes in the morning.

I squawk a lot about being a morning person, but even I can’t complete a sentence that soon after waking up. By the time I’ve had my coffee, the fog has cleared, kind of, but those beautiful, hazy ideas are long, long gone.

I blame the muse. Or, you know, the purely psychosomatic state of my relaxed and slumbering brain, completely devoid of superego and loosed to play and ponder. The question is: What if you’re sick of inviting the muse? What if, when you made the decision to pursue the writing life, you had hired the muse by fiat?

Well, you have. Start thinking of the muse as your newest employee. A contractor. Your personal ideas army of one. Now, you’ve got to behave like a boss, and get your muse to show up to work on time.

Step 1: Set the Starting Time

Your muse (and just to be clear, I’m talking about your brain, your right brain, your creative juices, your inspiration, your mojo, whatever you prefer to call it) can be trained to show up exactly when you require its services. All YOU need to do is, well, turn on the lights and unlock the door—that is, sit down and start writing. Every day, same time, same places (or nearly so).

Step 2: Let the Muse Grumble, But Don’t Let It Get Up

Even the best employees have days when they loaf around at their computers, sag on the job, sleep in the car. Your muse will do the same. When you feel the going begin to get rough, your boss persona needs to reassert itself. Your muse wants a break? It gets seven minutes within a 15-minute window, and then it’s got to start again.

Step 3: Don’t Give Crappy Vacation Time

Your muse does not want to check its email while it’s on vacation. Respect time away from creating. Don’t try to multi-task.

Seriously, don’t.

What do you think? Do you treat your muse like an employee, or more like the Tooth Fairy? Share your experiences in the comments.