I was reading a post on Reddit the other day where a writer was asking how to get inspired. Their complaint was that they weren’t coming up with any good ideas and felt like they were in a slump. “How can I find my muse,” they asked.
I used to think this way. I felt like inspiration was supposed to be a bolt of lightning. That great ideas were gifts from the writing gods. That a writer had to be tormented in order for their Muse to grant them the grace of a story or novel.
Boy, was I wrong.
It took me a while to get out of that mindset. And no, it’s not easy to change the way you think about something, especially if that’s all you’ve known. All through high school and into my early 20s I thought I had to wait for inspiration. That resulted in a lot of long nights sitting in front of a blank screen, crumpled wads of paper piling up in the trash can, and a lot of frustration. I didn’t know why my Muse was ignoring me, or maybe torturing me. I was an artist, dammit! I was struggling, depressed, anxious. I was hitting all the right notes…so where were my great story ideas?
It took me a while to realize that this whole Muse this was bogus. When I looked around I saw that other writers weren’t waiting for inspiration to come knocking on their door like a pizza delivery. If they were, then how could so many authors be so prolific? It didn’t make sense.
That opened my eyes. It was then that I discovered that there are stories everywhere: In the news, in history books, in nature, in the people I encountered every day. All I needed to do was open my eyes.
I’m sure that pissed off my muse. I mean, she’s been toying with me for years, expecting that I’d just keep coming back for more. Basically, it was an abusive relationship of my own making. I was finally able to break away from this mindset. My Muse wasn’t necessary any longer. I could function just fine as a writer without her. In fact, I became more productive once I kicked her out the door.
Learning to see the world differently, as a toy box full of ideas, isn’t easy. It takes time and patience. But once you do you’ll be surprised at all the possibilities that present themselves.
My advice for any writers – or any artists – is to give up on your Muse. She’s nothing but trouble. And not the good kind. Find the inspiration yourself. It’s all around you.