Does Writing Muse Work?

Writing with muse – the story

The squashed writing muse theory

This is how many professional writers say it works with writing muse: after a specific length of time you’ll run out of ideas and be left lost, and you’ll ‘never complete that story’. The word count stops, there is no writing routine to get the writing done, and you end up convincing all your friends you will eventually get round to some writing or to completing that story. When the muse comes you spend a full two weeks writing a twenty-thousand-word story, but it’s not complete, and the process in the above paragraph repeats itself. I have experience of this cycle!

Your writing muse is blamed – the very thing that got you writing in the first place. The writing muse is squashed; it’s not working or expanding in the way it did at first and you’re confused and frustrated why. There is all this pressure to be the writer you were or know you are, and naturally you blame the muse for not delivering results.

‘Muse writer’ changes into a ‘proper writer’

If you just pulled yourself together and wrote like a proper writer, then it would be fine. In fact, you realise you need to re-learn how to write, away from instinct, feeling, and art into the realms of craft, template, strategy, demand, results, word count, and deadlines. You now know how to be a ‘proper writer’, measured by results you achieve and the demands expected of writers in the publishing industry, be this traditional or indie.

Writing with muse completes stories?

It’s time for a change of perspective. What if the muse was developed instead?

It’s the word count that may be the problem, and the reason why you blame yourself and your muse for not completing your story: that pressure you put on yourself to complete a 60,000 or 70,000-word novel or more.

If you think about it, a novel is a huge beast to tackle, and this is why all writers tackle it in smaller pieces. When you stick to a schedule, you’re getting the words down, and it all adds up. You may be aware you’re only working on a first draft, and getting those words down is acceptable, but you can lose motivation with a schedule as much as with relying on writing muse. You can argue that this is why you have made a schedule, but it may not make a difference to you when you want to write what you enjoy, instead of expecting yourself to write what you ‘should’ be writing.

I favour a step-by-step approach to writing, based on enjoyment and inspiration, and being in tune with my development as a writer. When we lose all three of those things, it’s the path to writer’s block or seeing writing purely as ‘work’; something that has to be done for a specific purpose. After having lost the foundation that got me started writing in the first place, I didn’t want to lose it again.

Writing with muse completes stories too. I wrote my first four self-published novels with my muse, and I’ve five unpublished drafts that I continued with my muse, at the time of writing this book. When I stop going where my instincts take me, or I tell myself I have to complete a specific number of words in a specific timeframe, then this is when I have problems and my writing grinds to a halt. It has happened every time, now I think about it.

I think the pressure is a problem, which is sometimes perpetuated by writers and industry professionals who are under pressure themselves. It creates generations of insecure writers who are too afraid to share their writing, be published, or to go with their gut feeling.

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