October 8, 2012

Muse? Oh Muuuuse? Guest Post by Kim Switzer of Musecraft

Who doesn't need to coax their Muse out from the shadows occasionally? You sit down to write, and nothing. It's frustrating.

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Kim Switzer. I've come to think of her as the Muse Whisperer.

I met Kim as part of A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) and then worked one-on-one with her this summer. She motivated and inspired me with her simple and effective ideas. Since then, my Muse has been more accessible. So, I asked Kim if she would share with us some of her techniques for encouraging our Muses.  

Muse? Oh Muuuuse?
by Kim Switzer

Did you ever have your Muse take off on vacation in the middle of a story? Or even at the beginning, or worse, before you even get started? Yeah, me too. It’s normal; it happens to all of us at one time or another.

I have a few things that can help us get her back, though.

  • Take a shower, wash dishes, go swimming.  There’s something about combining water and physical activity that seems to call the Muse out of hiding.
  • Grab a hula hoop, dance in the middle of the living room, color, let your inner child out to guide you.
  • Buy her flowers. Muses love beautiful things and gifts. Remind your Muse and yourself that you and your writing are important and worth giving time and attention to. Sometimes just knowing that you are paying attention can get your Muse to let the words flow again.
  • Keep a list or file of things you’re interested in learning. Include things you want to research, classes you might like to take (online and in-person), tutorials you'd like to try, workbooks you’d like to go through, etc. When inspiration feels low, try one of the tutorials or classes or workbooks, learn something new or an advanced version of something you already know, and let the new information stir your creative juices.
  • Immerse yourself in other people's work. Spend time with work that is similar to what you want to create. Let yourself imagine how you would have done the same piece of work
  • Get absorbed in things that are different from what you do. Just as above, immerse yourself in other people's work, but this time choose things that are different, even opposite, from what you want to create. Pick non-fiction if you're a fiction writer and vice versa. Pick things that aren't even writing--attend a gallery opening, peruse photography websites, read about sculpting. Imagine how you might incorporate some of these things into your own work.
  • Schedule in regular downtime--daily if possible but at least 2-3 times a week. Your creative mind needs that space. Your Muse needs time to dream, and she needs quiet space to whisper into and have you actually hear her. 
  • Find a couple of good blogs and communities to be active in online. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to follow dozens of them. Two or three will let you actively participate and really be part of the community, so browse around and find some that really call to you.
  • Go to Amazon or another online bookseller. Read descriptions and samples of books you love and books similar to what you're trying to write. Let others' ideas inspire yours. 
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and freewrite about your story. Don’t write any of the actual story, just write about what kind of story you want to write, what feeling you want people to have when they read it, what elements you want to put into the story. If you are trying to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, write about what sorts of things might need to happen in the middle to get you there.
  • Freewrite about why you think you’re stuck, what is holding you back and causing you to stumble.
  • Write yourself a letter from your Muse. Let her tell you what she’d like from you, what kind of writing set-up she’d like to have. Invite her to tell you anything at all, even if it’s not about your writing. Then try out some of her suggestions.
  • Have coffee, lunch, drinks with a sympathetic friend who will listen to you talk about your story. Tell her about being stuck—voicing your frustrations is okay; you need to get them out. But then tell her everything that is good and exciting about your idea, all the reasons you wanted to write in the first place. Remember that you love to write.
  • Finally, if you are still having a hard time getting back into your work, take a hiatus. Give yourself time off from writing, at least a week, but take as long as you need. The only rule here is to pick a date when you will return to your writing. Put it on your calendar, and when that day comes, give yourself a block of time to spend with your writing even if it’s just to read over what you’ve written and take a few notes.

A bit about me: I’m a professional Muse, practitioner of whimsy, and certified Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coach.  I’m the owner and head Muse at MuseCraft™.  I’m a writer—mostly paranormal and urban fantasy stories.  I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a post-graduate teaching certification in English Language and Literature, but mostly I love sharing the feelings of joy and pleasure and excitement that come from engaging with your creative dreams, which is how I became a creativity coach.

Wonderful advice, Kim. Thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing it with us.

What do you do when your Muse isn't cooperating?


ShaunaKelleyWrites said...

This is a great post and I love all of these suggestions. I think my muse will be getting some flowers pretty often!

When I am stuck, I bake something. Somehow creating one thing seems to motivate my mind into creating something else. Now if only I could motivate my mouth not to eat all of my baked goods ;)

Tia Bach said...

Shauna, I turn to baking as well with the same problem! ;-) Thanks for stopping by.

Jo Michaels said...

My muse is always with me. Do I have block? YES. I put down my WIP and brainstorm other ideas, write a chapter or a rough (and I mean rough) outline, and come up with a character or two. Then, I go back to my WIP and am usually ready and bursting with new ideas. These are helpful tips. I only have a small issue with one of them.

I see writing as a job. You go to it every day. If you were to take a week off from your regular job, either you'd get fired, or you'd come back disconnected and have to play catchup to get back to where you were when you left.

Weekends off is typical in most jobs and two days should be enough to re-charge your batteries.

I've found that if I write at the same time every work day, my muse is there waiting for me when I show up. She's fresh and funny that way. :)

Schedules help writers because they let our brain know when not to worry about other life and when we can focus on creating.

Just my humble opinion. WRITE ON!

Tia Bach said...

Jo, I love the idea of a scheduled write/work time. I haven't been taking weekends off, but I need to. Thanks for stopping by.

And thanks again to Kim for the wonderful post!