How To Feed A Muse

Every writer has come to the point where a project becomes muddy, sticky, and monotonous. Is it writer’s block? Sure. Is it becoming bored with your own story? Maybe. Is it a perpetual northern winter or a life event that arrives like a stray lightning bolt and saps you of any motivation to get to the page? Absolutely.

But what can you do to get out of that funk and awaken from the stupor? How can you rise above yourself and this particular situation with your friend or family member that just won’t leave you?

I believe the answer lies in what has been called a muse. It’s the age old question. What can the artist (in this case writer) do to keep, well, doing? It’s not a sudden burst of energy that finishes a great work but coming back to your art day after day after day. The great writers of the past may have written amazing volumes because of the epic lives they lived. But more likely, they became great writers because they pulled up their sleeves and wrote. No. Matter. What.

But this work requires energy. And yours is sapped remember? Where is this muse? How do you get one?

In the article, How to Keep and Feed a Muse by Ray Bradbury, he explores a thread which holds the “how to fuel your art” together:

“I believe one thing holds it all together. Everything I’ve ever done was done with excitement, because I wanted to do it, because I loved doing it.” (Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing, pg 40).  Combined with, “Do not, for money, turn away from all of the stuff you have collected in a lifetime. Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are – the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore indispensable to others.” Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing, pg 42).

So, writer. It’s time to unlock the broom cupboard you’ve put yourself into. The key or muse, after all, is right in your hand. It’s remembering who you are, a turn back to the original trail that you started long ago.

So, do something you love.

Allow that love to unlock excitement, ardor, joy.

And use joy to write.

Things I Wish I knew Before My Fifth Draft – Write With Joy

When I began writing I knew I knew nothing. I read the great classics and dreamed of my novel taking up residence on the shelf next to them. However, when I read The Brothers Karamazov or Great Expectations I realized how little I understood of the writing process. I had a passion for my story, a love of good fiction and a laptop. That was all.

Fast forward eight years later and I am near the point of my novel transforming into what I have wanted it to be. Why eight years? Well, I’d like to say I was developing a mind blowing series that will reshape the world of writing as we know it. But let’s be honest. I was too busy making mistakes and paddling upstream. I did not write as I should have. I spent weeks mulling over one sentence or phrase. After a while (eight drafts later) I realized I should be just writing, and rediscovering the joy which editing has robbed.


RIP Mr Bradbury. Thanks for the advice.

I was given a book for Christmas by Ray Bradbury. It is a collection of essays titled Zen and the Art of Writing. The first essay is called The Joy of Writing. In it Mr Bradbury suggests that after you have tackled the literary techniques and grammatical principles,  you need to break free and just write. Edit later.

He sums it up like this:

…This afternoon, burn down the house. Tomorrow, pour cold critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today – explode – fly apart – disintegrate! The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the word who, reading your story, will catch fire, too?” (Zen and the Art of Writing, Bradbury, pg 7)

So, if you are just getting words on the page for the first time, I would encourage you to  do one thing. Write. Do not sit down and edit the previous thing you’ve written before you continue, just do it. Just write. Write because you love it. Write because it has to be written. Write because of the pure joy you find in doing it.


Bob Evenhouse