Courting the Muse

This is a guest post by author Joanne Weck

Joanne Weck, novelist and short story author, draws upon family history to inspire many of her stories, set in rural Pennsylvania where she grew up. She uses her experiences as an actress, director, and teacher, as well. She has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Theater from the University of Pittsburgh. As a Creative Writing and Theater teacher, one of her favorite projects was mentoring YAWT (Young Artists' Workshop Theater) to develop and showcase teenagers' creativity. Her mysteries CRIMSON ICE, published by DPP Press and DOUBLE DECEPTION, published by Amber Quill Press, are available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. She is represented by EVAN MARSHALL Literary Agency

Every writer, I believe, is visited by a creative spirit, a Muse if you will, who inspires and blesses. You feel her presence when your writing flows, when you experience yourself as merely the instrument of a rich source, wiser and more powerful than you, a source beyond you. You feel her absence when you sit there staring at a blank screen or tablet that mocks you with its emptiness until you want to throw it through a window.

 

True, the Muse is much more likely to appear if she knows your habits—knows that she will find you prepared and at your desk at an appointed time. Still, sometimes your Muse will be an elusive sprite, a naughty imp who wants to play hide and seek when you need her aid. Sometimes she’s a hungry ghost, demanding food and drink.

 

How to nourish your Muse? Art inspires Art. Creativity feeds on creativity.

It’s possible to create an atmosphere that will encourage your Muse to linger or if she’s fled, to resume her residence, to re-inhabit your soul.

 

I’ve personified my Muse by giving her a name (Sylvia) and keeping a painting of her on my desk. (A pastel water color of an ethereal creature painted by a talented artist friend.) Your Muse might be personified by a person who encouraged your writing, the one who acknowledged your talent and “gave you permission” to pursue your creativity—a relative, an artist, an ancestor, anyone who inspires you.

 

When the stream runs dry you have to visit the river. If your Muse has been missing in action for several sessions, you may have to pursue her and lure her back. Perhaps immersing yourself in Nature–a walk through the woods or a park, a quiet afternoon staring out at the ocean, or watching a sunset will call her back. I never berate my Muse. Instead, I invite her to return by refreshing my spirit.

 

It is also possible to nourish your Muse on a smaller scale—by creating your personal writing sanctuary, no matter how small. Arrange inspirational objects, photos, sketches, or art works where you write. A seashell, small statue, or evocative piece of driftwood can inspire creativity. Open a book of Art Reproductions. For me, sometimes it takes a Rembrandt. Sometimes it’s a Picasso, a Matisse, or a Jackson Pollack. Consider your current project. If I’m writing in the voice of a teen protagonist I might seek out the work of a graffiti artist, Death Star anime, or a graphic novel.

 

Appeals to the sense are a way to encourage inspiration. For me, a bowl of camellias or lilacs that fills a room with fragrance is inspirational. If no flowers are available there is a vast selection of essential oils that can be just as effective. Spend a few moments with a pet. Stroking the silky hair of my small Maltese-poodle mix provides me with soothing and inspiration.

 

Music—comes from “Muse” and may be just what will best stimulate the creativity you’re seeking. Choose something that correlates with your subject matter. For me at times it could be Billy Holliday or Edith Piaf. Sometimes it’s Amy Winehouse or Lily Allen. Katy Perry, Bob Dylan, Springsteen, Usher or rap–whatever the writing might call for to enhance the mood of the piece I’m struggling with. Create the proper conditions and your Muse will soon be peeking over your shoulder and whispering in your ear.

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