This is a guest post by author Mary Saurer-Smith
The “Muse” and You
What is the “Muse”?
Wikipedia will tell you that Muses are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts in Greek mythology. The dictionary will say that “to muse” is to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject.
Many writers cling to believing in the myth and will staunchly defend the identity of their Muse as a conscious, invisible creature who feeds them ideas that shape their art. Who would be so insensitive as to take that away from them? That belief alone can be the bridge between a desire to write and knowing what to write. But for those who are open to understanding how the Muse works to inspire and guide, and how to open the mind to her creative influence, the following explanation will be equally empowering; perhaps even more-so.
Meditation. No wonder there is such a recurrence of fascination with various types of meditation from era to era. In the 60’s it was Transcendental Meditation. In the 80’s it was Chakra Meditation. In recent years it was Contemplative Meditation, known by its other names of Inquiry, or Mindfulness. Has anyone ever reminded you to be mindful of something? It means to pay attention. A little book entitled, “The Master Teacher Within”, available on Amazon, defines seven types of meditation.
It states that to meditate means to give your undivided attention to a selected point or idea. For example spiritual meditation is done by concentration on a concept of the Creator. Various healing types of meditation are practiced by first “resting” the mind in silence, and then focusing the inner gaze on an area that needs healing.
We can “call forth” the Muse for guidance in the creative arts when we want inspiration and ideas. The key is to know how.
It starts with mentally stating a topic and defining a purpose for considering the topic. And It requires concentration without distraction on the ideas and images that come tumbling into the mind.
Here is an example of how it works: A story-teller thinks, “I am invited by a religious organization to tell an original story about dying with dignity for a mixed audience of adults. (this draws the mind’s full attention to the stated task). The next thought is “What can I say about it that supports the organization’s purpose for inviting me?” (this establishes the boundaries for the ideas)
Immediately, these two questions, driven by the desire for answers or ideas, converge in the imagination to effortlessly attract the individual’s memories, knowledge and beliefs about the stated topic and create an answer.
For the creative artist, creative thinking can be activated at will through syllogistic reasoning. It is a skill and there are various techniques for every skill one would want to develop. Syllogistic reasoning in its simplest form is an interplay between the subconscious and deductive reasoning process that produces a more abstract result than concrete or complex reasoning will do. When a creative purpose is held in mind before the process of begins, the mind directs all ideas toward that purpose. The resulting idea is a configuration of words that have never previously been conceived in such a way…an original way to say what others might have said before, but never in the way that you will say it. This kind of creative, syllogistic reasoning seems magical even to the one who experiences it, for it is effortless.
If you have writer’s block or difficulty with writing at times, you can establish a habit of calling the Muse at will, and she will come to inspire you with her way of speaking in a voice that is uniquely yours.
Here is a simple procedure for activating and working with the Muse for writing:
- Sit comfortably in a quiet place, alone with your thoughts.
- Hold the topic of your book in mind and your purpose for writing it.
- Mentally voice the intent or desire to explore that topic.
- Write the ideas that come rushing in, as if taking dictation.
- Now use your knowledge of language and writing to form the ideas into a meaningful presentation for your readers.
It’s supposed to be fun and it can be easy if you know how to beckon the Muse at will.