The writer’s muse

I’ve run into the writer’s muse often during several ordinary activities most people have in common, and probably you have too. You can meet the muse while you’re engaging in mindless exercise, like walking the dog.

On the left, here is our dog Boo Radley. As you can guess, she is walking me and not the other way around. While we walk I try to make sure she doesn’t knock me down or push me over or pull me into someone’s yard where I will fall, but most of my mind is wandering. Sometimes it finds the perfect ending for the WIP (that’s work in progress for the uninitiated), sometimes it comes up with witty sentences, but it almost always comes up with something I wish I could have remembered when I got back home. You should see me, almost home and muttering “they took the train, they took the train, the train”. Part of the reason you get the muse on these outside exercise jaunts is because you have nothing to write with.

Another common activity that brings on the muse is taking long, hot baths. This is the origin of the “eureka” shriek, and it’s not a cliche for nothing. It really happens. Again, you don’t have anything to write with and probably won’t remember your idea by the time you’ve dried off.

Lastly, you will meet your muse when you sleep. Not in dreams, but in the last thoughts you have before you fall asleep and in the first thoughts you have as you wake up. Sleep can solve many of your writing problems. Really. Get some good sleep. And this time, you might just have a notepad and pen sitting beside your bed to write it all down.

There are several equally famous ways to engage your muse, but since they are generally unhealthy and/or illegal I will leave them out. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever used them that way anyhow.

I ended up figuring out what the cowboy’s baby was by driving around Caldwell County and looking at the scenery, but I wasn’t planning my book as I explored. When I got back to writing and had to continue after “the cowboy’s baby is going to get me!” sequence, the solution just jumped right in there. SPOILER ALERT (I didn’t realize they could jump straight up over fences).

What I’ve just read this week–Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

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