Pulling Your Muse from the Pit of Despair

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Pulling Your Muse from the Pit of Despair

You get rejected for the 500th contest you’ve entered. Then you read the stories that “win” and at least one of them is filled with grammatical errors and typos.

You read an article where an info-marketing writer talks about his knee-deep reader email lists. Your list includes your mom, your husband, and your two cats.

Big Name Writer chirps on about how all she needed was a decent website and ta-da! — instant audience. You spend your kids’ orthodontia money on a “professional” website and you’ve gotten two visitors in a week. Woo.

Writer friend offers to read your manuscript and comment. You haven’t heard from him since. Probably killed by a brain hemorrhage from reading your awful writing.

You save your 17K word manuscript to the cloud so you can work remotely. You get in the groove and begin to take your story in a whole new direction. Upon your return, you open the wrong version and overwrite all your new work.

It’s not easy being a writer and it’s certainly not easy to keep creativity stoked when you’re in a maelstrom of drek. A writer’s life is not all roses and bunnies, that’s for sure–it’s more Internet trolls and late-night lattes for most of us.

While it’s hard to come home from a long day at work to find your muse tapping her foot in irritation rather than rolling up her sleeves, chugging down her coffee, and pulling up her big-girl panties, ready to leap into the fray with you, there are things you can do to convince her to reign in her attitude and come out and play.

Muse-Boosting Activities

First, disconnect.

Normally, I encourage writers to cooperate and network, but I make an exception here. Stop reading those success stories, blog brags, and random bits of writing-based ephemera until your vision clears. You may be seeing black right now (or even red) so it’s not a good time to have Will E. Writebetter telling you about his latest blockbuster release. That got 100 reviews. In the first two days. Did I mention he’s unknown? Seeing data like this is only going to plunge you further into the dark recesses of your spirit. Just let it go for now.

Now, readjust.

Address your attitude. You might have a case of the Why Bothers or feel compelled to sit in a dark room and mourn your dearth of talent and that’s okay–for a time.  Let out all your frustration. Get angry. Get sad. And then get over it. No one ever got anywhere by giving up and this applies double to you — so there.

Start over, slowly.

Most muses are relatively fickle. Sometimes they’re chomping at the bit, spitting out creative fire so fast you can barely keep up. Other times getting a good idea flow is like trying to get molasses out of a bottle in winter. Thick, resistant, and slow as hell. Hitting the molasses bottle doesn’t help; neither does cursing it. But if you apply gentle warmth, the goodness starts flowing.

So be kind to your muse. Be kind to yourself. Do something fun or something you know you’re good at to boost your confidence. Lose yourself in play. Relax. You can’t force creativity — like anything untamed, it shrinks from demands.

Then, stand back and watch the magic.

Sometimes a little rest is all your muse needs to feel refreshed to start sowing those formative oats. In this case, you’ve given her a break from the constant negative barrage and offered her some soothing respite from her labors. But she’s made for invention and curiosity and ingenuity. She wants to work. It’s time to join forces and do what you do best — write. Just don’t start with something that’s been nagging at you because it needs to get done. For best results, begin with a project you’re genuinely excited about.

And stay away from the info-net for a bit, just until you get back in step with your muse. Then you can dip your toe back in the swirling eddies of possibility and see what writing adventures you can snag from the current!

See you on the next page!






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