Thursday, October 4, 2012

If the Muse is Late for Work, Start Without Her

Doesn't it seem like when one thing goes wrong, it's the domino that knocks the rest to the floor? And if one thing goes right, it lifts everything else right up with it?

Well, this week I'm suffering from an Abundance of Good Things. I have critique work coming out of my ears, editing notes to get through for my agent (#beamingsmile), a son who's just too cute for words, and big, big plans coming to fruition for next year...

All of which means, very little time to blog. And yet... and yet...

Here I am. Why? Well, two reasons really:

1. You guys are awesome. All of the writing things going right just now have either been supported by, or cheered for by you guys. When I got to announce my new agent, I was genuinely touched by your response. The outpouring here and on twitter left me gobsmacked. I felt loved. So, far be it for me to turn around and say I'm too busy now.


2. Sometimes you just have to keep going, even when there's not enough time, and too many demands.

It's number two I want to focus on from here.

See that headline? It's a quote from some author's uncle. The uncle in question was an artist and he understood the creative mind. How easy it is to say "This is too hard! I'm just not inspired." So when his writer nephew approached him for advice, this is what he said.

"If the muse is late for work, start without her."

Self-explanatory, isn't it?

If you're sitting at the keyboard and the word aren't coming easy (and believe me, I know the feeling), just keep going. Start without the muse. Start with something that isn't your best work. Start with something that wouldn't see the light of day.

Because, the beauty of writing is, we can always make it better. But until we have words on a page, our dreams are nothing but ideas.

So... if the muse is late today, or if she's tired, or if she's being a back-biting cow... well, start without her. Maybe she'll come to the party, or maybe she won't. But either way, you'll be that many words closer to achieving your dream.

Your Turn: Do you have any sage advice (sticky-note wisdom? Inspiring quotes?) to keep us focused today? Share them here!


  1. AMEN! I needed this today, so thank you very much.

    We have to make the time to sit down to write and when we do we can't wait to be "in the mood". If I waited for that, I'd only have half a book written for all my years of writing.

  2. I find this quite true.

    In fact, the words/paragraphs/scenes I struggle with most, oftentimes become my strongest. When the muse finally shows up, I take full advantage of my "in the zone" state of mind and go back to breathe life into what I originally wrote.

  3. This post came at exactly the right time. Guess I'd better go get writing! Thanks for the the inspiration!

  4. You're right - we're totally awesome. :-D

    A quote I really like is: I'd rather try to do something great and fail than attempt to do nothing and succeed. It helps me push through.

  5. Karen Lamb said, "A year from now, you'll wish you had started today." That one really works for me!

  6. I always like "You can't edit a blank page". Same thing really.

    I find that writing every day, even if it's a small amount, keeps the muse around. And as Leigh said, I often find that the words I write when I push myself even though I'm not inspired, are often some of my best.

  7. Ironically, I write this comment after two days of putting off a blog post, due to business and absence of the muse, but...I still applaud your advice. It's very true that quite often we can jumpstart our muse by writing anyway. Our efforts tease her until she can't resist coming out to supervise!