Capture Your Muse (Or If That Doesn’t Work, Hit It With A Shovel And Drag It Back To Your Lair)

There are a few moments that make all the hard work and discouragement of being a writer worthwhile. One of them, for me, is that instant when, out of nowhere, for some reason, I close my eyes and my entire story opens in front of me, unfurling piece by piece in technicolor. Everything is suddenly clear, and I think, “YES. This is what I was waiting for.”

And then there are other moments. The ones when I stare and I stare and I stare at the blinking cursor and I have…nothing. No inspiration. No clue. No muse.

Sadly, those barren moments tend to outnumber the fertile ones about ten to one. But then again, if they didn’t, being a writer would be easy, right? News alert: it’s not. And if you just sit there waiting for inspiration to strike, there’s a decent chance you’re going to be sitting there for a long, long while.

No, sometimes inspiration doesn’t come to you. Sometimes, you have to go find it. You have a to hit it over the head with a shovel, tie it up, and drag it back to your lair.

How do we do that, though?

For me, it’s all about finding something that helps pull my mind into my story, something that makes it immediate. Something that encapsulates it.

That captive muse could be anything. Music, an image, a scene from a movie on YouTube. Just something that reminds you of where you need and want to go.

When I was writing Unacceptable Risk, it was hard, driving songs with lots of grit and static – songs like Destroy the Evidence by Cassiotone for the Painfully Alone and Hearing Damage by Thom Yorke. One of my current works in progress is all about falling in love in the last gasp of summer, and I always have Nightswimming by REM playing when I fire up my doc. Another piece I’m writing right now has probably the a hunkiest hero I’ve ever written, and I keep this gif of Chris Evans without his shirt on open in a browser window for, ahem, added doses of inspiration.

The moral of the story is that you need these little things, these signals to your brain that it’s go-time. These shovels.

What are you working on / pummeling over the head with a garden implement right now? And what little piece of ephemera do you turn to when you need to get your mind in the mood?

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