19 August 2009

Seducing the Muse

In a perfect world, I'd be able to write at will, whenever and wherever I choose. But this is not the case, sadly. While I am working towards an easier, more open relationship with my muse, we're on uncertain footing now. Summoning her takes effort. 

In many ways, it's like seduction; just as one might dim the lights, break open some bubbly, and put on some Barry White to inspire a romantic mood, I have certain rituals to inspire a creative frame of mind. These things include:

I can't write in a coffeehouse, I can't write on a train. I can't even write with other writers in the room. Other people are just too interesting to me, and I get distracted.  When I really need to get the job done, I need to be alone, with the door closed and the lights low. If I lived in another era (and had a few more zeroes on my bank statement), I'd be one of those writers who checks into a hotel for a month or so. My muse loves hotel rooms.

Decaf is fine, but regular is much more effective; the caffeinated buzzing in my brain tends to quiet the negative you're-a-hack voices, and the jitteriness prevents me from dwelling on any one issue for too long, which is especially helpful with first drafts. Sometime I find that even the act of making coffee can wake up my muse and lift my spirits.

As I've mentioned, I am prone to distraction. I can't listen to music with lyrics while I'm reading or writing — I end up on a tangent, singing along to Liza Minnelli's cover of "You're So Vain" (which is fabulous, buy the way) or thinking how that certain song by The Cure reminds me of an old boyfriend. Even music without lyrics can be distracting for me, if it involves heavy percussion or syncopation. So I stick to classical music. In particular, there's an album called "Bach for Book Lovers" that I find really effective; it offers just the right amount of background music.  It lulls my muse, and allows me to tune in to my work while tuning out everything else.

On the occasions when I'm not sequestered (preferably in a 4+ star hotel room) with good coffee and the right music, it helps me to stay connected with other writers or otherwise creative people.  I have a few really good "writing buddies" with whom I talk shop at least once a week; it's a great opportunity to offer and receive encouragement, work through story problems, and feel a general sense of camaraderie, that we're all in this crazy writing game together. Regular creative communication can be incredibly invigorating and inspiring. While my muse doesn't do well in crowds, she can't survive in a vacuum, either.

What do you do to get yourself (and your muse) in the mood?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kara, I'm visiting through Brenda's blog. I'm enjoying your posts. When my muse is being snotty, I start playing with another (pre-fabricated) muse. We start having such a grand time, that my real? muse tip-toes back like Andy McDowell in Ground Hog Day, "Phil, errands...what errands?"