Writing Without the Muses

One of the problems with writing a novel is that sometimes writing time and the muses do not cooperate. What do you do when you have some time for writing and the muses are off getting drunk and going bowling?

The Muses are well known for drunken bowling.
The Muses are well known for drunken bowling.

There’s always the option of declaring “I’ve got nothing” and going off to huddle in a corner and cry. Or maybe you might think you can find the muses on the Internet, probably on a social media site, or maybe on YouTube or BuzzFeed or something like that. Funny how time runs out while searching for them.

The problem with those strategies is that you don’t get much done, and your word count just flops around like a fish on the ground. Unlike writing a short story or poem, you can’t just give up and wait for next bit of time. A block of time with the muses whispering in your ear might get you through two thousand words, but it won’t work for eighty thousand.  At some point you’ll have to fly museless.

Now the way of dealing with this is going to be different for everyone, but mine is the mantra “Power through it.” I push out the words even if they don’t sound all that inspired. Maybe I’ll just tell a stretch of story instead of showing. Maybe I’ll write some stilted dialogue. Maybe I’ll just puke words onto the page. The great thing about writing is that you can always fix things during revisions until it’s right.

Personally, I find that if I have a rough draft, even if it sucks rocks, then I know I can get the story finished. And that’s inspiring even when the muses are off drunken bowling.

How do you manage to write when uninspired?

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6 Responses to Writing Without the Muses

  1. Erica says:

    I basically do the same thing you do–write through or around the issue. Sometimes skipping a troublesome scene or chapter can even help. The answer to the how and why questions can come to me when I’m writing something later on. Telling myself I don’t have to get every word just right on a draft was actually the first step in being able to finish anything anyway.

    For me, the toughest thing to overcome is the creeping doubt that something I’m in the process of polishing/revising is really crud and unfixable. I’ve already written/rewritten the chapter or scene innumerable times, but still find clunky wording, or simply just worry that something about the thing, or about a character, isn’t going to hang together well enough. Sometimes a reader comment can prompt this, but a lot of the time it’s just my own doubts. This can make it hard to come back and try to revise a chapter yet again.

  2. Johnell says:

    I give myself a time limit and just write whatever. Sometimes is helps. Other times I need to step away and pick up a book and refresh my own inspiration by reading something else. Poetry too, seems to help.

  3. Rhonda says:

    I will find the muses on Facebook. I WILL FIND THEM.

    Great post, Erik!

  4. Lesley C says:

    I suspect the muses have all gone to AA meetings.

  5. Leandra says:

    Your posts are always good for a laugh(and good advice)! And thank heavens for revision- hopefully the muses are sober by then… 😉

  6. Timanda says:

    Sometimes I find switching from typing to writing in long hand helps. Not always, though.
    I’m trying the “power through it” for my revisions, which are currently uncooperative. Any thoughts on how to find inspiration for revisions?

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