The Muse Is a Lie

Inspiration is an amazing feeling. A magic state of mind in which the words flow and they’re incredible and the heavens open and you go and go and forget to eat and don’t think about anything but your story. It’s nothing less than the best.

But the Muse is a lie.

I don’t think anyone actually believes in this thing, except maybe followers of Ancient Greek-flavored paganism. This is a snuggly faux-fur lie writers tell themselves to feel better about not writing. If you have any sparkly delusions, like mine, about being pro, inspiration needs to be replaced with discipline. Of course, if you’re riding the wave, you’re riding it, and I’m so freaking jealous of you right now, as I fight for every word. Ride it to the end.

Then get up the next day and start swimming out again. Sometimes you catch it, sometimes you don’t, but you’re more likely to catch that wave if you’re out there. Don’t wait for it to break over your head and sweep you along. Go get it, and if you don’t catch it, you’ve still gotten work done, made progress, learned.

I know the Muse is a lie, because the more I write and read, the more ideas I have rattling around in my skull. The well doesn’t go dry if you’re consistent. Sometimes I, you, will need a break, but even if it’s only one hundred words, sit down and write something. Even if you only write one word. Even if you wind up cutting more than you write, or write something you’re going to cut the next day. I don’t bother with a daily goal because it depresses me when I don’t hit it, but that works for some people. Just do as much as you can.

Start turning it out. Make it a habit. Choose one thing, one word processor file, and leave it open. Now when I look at that file I find it hard not to put words into it, because I write every day—even if it’s just a short thing like this.

I’m not saying the Muse is a lie to be unkind to you or because I’m denigrating your process. Hey, everyone’s different, whatever floats your boat. No, I don’t believe in writer’s block either. I don’t believe in any of that, at least not for me. I can’t allow that in my life. And I’m trying to tell you how to get more words. The solution is to sit down and do it more often. I want you to succeed, because the world always needs more good books and stories and articles. Write a lot of them.

3 thoughts on “The Muse Is a Lie

  1. I agree. I find it tough going when I start a new work. But now when I’m near the end, the writing flows for me. Not that it won’t need revision, but hey, that’s the way the writing life goes. My best to you.

  2. I kept hearing about having a Muse. Even Stephen King talks about one. I never had one, and somehow that bothered me a little; although I never believed in them. I’m happy to see this post.

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