The Muse Can Suck So Many Eggs by Julie
TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin spice. Like you had to ask.
I’m a huge Chuck Wendig fan, and one of the greatest reasons I love him is because of his JUST FUCKING WRITE policy. Like this one: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/09/15/dear-writers-and-creative-types-you-dont-need-motivation/
I make no bones about how much I hate this elusive goddamn muse everyone talks about.
“I can’t write today, my muse is missing.”
“I have no inspiration to write, my muse is being lazy.”
“I could be writing but the muse wants to watch ten episodes of whatever this tv show is.”
This inspiration that has to punch you in the frigging face in order for you to write your book is an illusion. That broad works for you. You call the shots.
This isn’t a post about how you have to write every day or you’re not a writer. This is a post about how I make the muse show up for work and half the time I send her home because I don’t need her.
“How do you come up with your ideas?” We get this one a lot, right writers? Few of us have an answer. Our brains are built that way, we think in stories. I fuel the brain to make the stories. If you have a tough time finding inspiration, try this stuff. Because getting the inspiration is great—that blast of dream sequence brilliance that suddenly turns into a book? Love it. It’s fun. But writing is my job. So I work for it. I earn that inspiration by searching for it. Here’s some stuff I do to keep the ball rolling:
- I get a scrapbook. One of my favorite places to get a really beautiful one that begs to be touched is https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1029658438. I fell on the Halloween one pictured and it took my breath away—how perfectly it fit THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. Now I have a spot to put all the little things that remind me of my characters, and build upon. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS started with one picture in a magazine. Then I built upon them by asking questions. What’s the relationship between these six girls? What’s different about them? What do they DO? Who’s the strongest, meanest, funniest, etc…? And I gathered things that spoke to me about each of them and putting them together in a scrapbook helped me keep them all distinctly different, but with an overall tone, a feeling that united them.
- Coincidentally, I didn’t FIND stuff to put in the scrapbook–I SEARCHED for stuff. Celeste is the Witch of Stars. Suddenly I was looking everywhere I was for stars to put in the scrapbook. Then it became that I was looking for the colors associated with her—silver, purple, blue. I’d bribe the kids to let me dig through the clearance bins at the craft store, I’d look through things I’d saved over the years that could fit in. I search eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Pinterest of course….. Things that struck me I’d ask myself why they did, and how it related to the book. Sure, maybe I’d fall for a dinosaur soup ladle and that had nothing to do with anything. But a lot of times I’d come across something I knew would be in Celeste’s bedroom, a lipstick shade I knew one of the Witches would wear, a map, a piece of jewelry, all kinds of things that would be in their world. And the scrapbook filled up. More importantly, I was ALWAYS looking for things to put in it. Every place I went provided an opportunity to add ideas, to thicken the soup. Oh, maybe the ladle had something to add after all.
- I think about words. No, I’m not kidding. Words that sound good together, pretty poetry, gross words mixed with beautiful words, and I write them down. And I build around them. I heard once that you buy a piece of art and build the room around it. I do this with words. The line, “I swallowed a Hell splinter,” spawned THE HARPY. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS was a phrase that showed up in my head after seeing the magazine picture that gave me the idea, and I wrote around it. Write all the words down, whether they mean something or not. Then MAKE THEM MEAN SOMETHING IF YOU LOVE THEM.
- I read magazines LOOKING for something to spark interest. Good interest, bad interest. A phrase, a look in the eye, colors that do or don’t go together, a picture I HATE and ask myself why, then make a character that would hate it too, etc…. But I never read a magazine just to read it. I’m LOOKING.
- When I can’t think anymore and I do Buzzfeed quizzes? I take them from my characters’ points of view. You’d be shocked at what this does for me.
I have tons of this crap that I do. I won’t go into all of it here, but what I want you to get from it is that if you WANT to write, everything you do, see, think, don’t think, is story fodder. It’s all in the pot. Store shelves, movie theaters, commercials, tourist traps, museums, zoos, the post office, they all offer something. Because I want them to. No minute is wasted, but it doesn’t feel like work even though it is. I want to do it too damn badly. The muse can take notes.