This year my writer muse has gone missing in action A LOT! When I get a spare moment I will be checking her contract because I don’t believe I hired her to:
- Disappear for weeks on end with no note or clue as to where she is going.
- Return whenever she feels like it, usually in the small hours when I am fast asleep and cuddling my Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook of 2017.
- Tempt and tease me with an array of delicious story ideas and then at about eight thousand words vanish.
When your writer muse runs off it can be quite scary. The door to your writer’s brain becomes locked and no matter how hard you try you can’t access your box of creative ideas, piles of plot threads and character warehouse. Your days become filled with staring at a bit of blank paper, wiping away a tear whilst reading your Twitter feed (your writer’s muse may have run off but I guarantee everyone else’s muse will be hard at work) and when you wash the dishes there will be an eerie silence inside your mind.
Once you become a writer you will understand how silence can be both pleasurable (when you have to hit a huge word count target and the house goes silent) and torturous. The silence which comes when your writer’s muse goes missing in action is like no other silence. It is horrible and disturbing. I am sending all writers out there with ‘quiet heads,’ a huge virtual hug. Hang in their guys!
The moment you start whimpering “I wish my beloved muse would come home,” you will find that a gang of marauding writing demons will enter your brain, causing havoc. They will be chanting helpful stuff like “we think you should quit!” and “she’s / he’s left you because your writing stinks!” After a few weeks or even months of listening to this motley crew you will be an emotional wreck.
So, what options do you have?
- You can accept your muse has vanished and carry on listening to the crowd of demons. Nothing good comes from this option.
- You can force yourself to write and hold the belief that one day your muse will return. I have carried on writing when my muse has been off gallivanting. It is a hard thing to do and eventually you do discover the reason for their disappearance. In my experience the reason is to do with something you are avoiding.
- You can speed things up, declare them lost and go find them.
I am going to work on the basis you have all selected the third option.
Here’s how to find your lost writer muse:
- Tweet they are missing and ask anyone to let you know if they have seen them. I did this, tweeted to say my writer’s muse was missing in action. An American writer tweeted back a few hours later to say he’d seen her in a New York nightclub. She’d been making some interesting moves. This made me smile. You need to smile when you are going through this and you need to reach out to other writers. Don’t suffer this alone.
- Before you set off to search for them you need to work on your head. When your writer’s muse returns your brain needs to be a calm and welcoming place. Sometimes muses run away because our minds are full of rubbish, unwanted memories and scary thoughts. Check out some free meditation videos or download an app. I swear to you, I used to think meditation was a load of fluff but then I tried it and my life changed. It is like sending a cleaner into your head. Tidy up your thoughts.
- If your muse ran off mid-project, to find your lost muse you have to go back into the project. you were working on. I am afraid they are hiding within it. When we encounter a writing problem with our drafts and we can’t fix it, our muses stay inside it to try to work out what’s wrong. It sounds daft but believe me on this. They are trapped inside your story and need to be helped out. It has taken me a long time to realise this. So, take a deep breath, grab a torch, rope, a flask containing a warm drink, a comfy blanket and some pest repellent for typos. Journey back into your story and return to the point where your muse disappeared. You know what made you leave that story so quickly. You need to solve the problem and free your writer’s muse.
- If your muse went missing after a project had finished and you need to come up with a new one, you need to make a list of all their favourite hang outs. Muses will linger inside good books, they will squat in the middle of thought-provoking films, they will hide amongst a theatre production, they will hide behind stones on long walks in the countryside and they will lurk at the bottom of rock pools on the beach. Once you find your muse all will be well again. Work out what where your muse hangs out and go tell them to come home.
But whatever you do – don’t panic. You will find your writer’s muse.
Take care out there writers.