Manipulating My Muse

In the introduction of MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, Carolyn See advises “a discipline of a thousand words a day, five days a week.” What does she mean “discipline?” Isn’t writing all creative and ethereal?

In the early days of my dream of a writing career I developed the idea that writing, like all art, must be mystical, dreamy, maybe magical even. I would think about characters and what their lives were like. I would jot down notes in the ever present idea notebook. But I never wrote stories. I wrote scenes and snippets. I wrote two or three sentences of plot points I wanted to incorporate. But I still didn’t write stories.

My problem? I sat around waiting for my muse, whatever that was. I thought the story would just flow out of my fingers onto the page and I would bask in its perfection. I wasn’t as egotistical as it sounds, I just thought my muse was something outside of me that I had to wait on to take over my characters and plot ideas in order to create the story.

I was wrong.

I’ve learned I can manipulate my muse. Gasp…my muse is a tool within me that I can control. Sacrilege!

One quite effective way I can manipulate my muse is to change up the time of day I write. My day job is long and stressful. I tried to write at night after work, but I was always so tired I couldn’t even think. After reading a blog post by Mike Snyder on The Master’s Artist about how he decided to get up early to write, I followed his lead.

Getting up early for me means 3:30, an absolutely unholy time of the morning, but since I have to leave for work at 6:00, that’s how it has to be. The big surprise is that I can write longer and more easily in the early morning.

How do you manipulate your muse to work for you? How do you jumpstart your creativity when your writing stalls?