Ditching the muse and how to write LOTS

How to write:

Step one – turn off your internet, cell phone, TV, and all social media. Shut door if possible.

Step two – write.

Simple advice, but true.

Reduce distractions for yourself and just start. Sure, your first few (or thousand) words might be utter crap. But keep going. Who knows where it’ll take you. I just finished two different projects with a combined total of nearly 200 K in less than six months.

Yeah, I’m kinda crazy. But I freaking loved it.

You know those wacko exercise enthusiasts who ‘need’ their daily jog?

Here’s a secret – writers are kinda like that too.

Your brain is a muscle, and requires regular training. That old adage of write every day, preferably in the same place, and aim for a target word count (Stephen King suggested 2000 words daily) will strengthen and build your writing muscles.

Routine, routine, routine.

Sheer fucking repetition.

Same bat time, same bat place, and same laptop. That’s it.

Pretty soon you’re gonna find yourself itching to sit at your desk or laptop at a certain time, and if you miss it, you’ll feel it. Your brain is just following its schedule – at a set time, you write. Pure and simple.

Some folks talk about waiting for a muse to strike.

I guess that’s fine for some folks, but for me, that’s a cop out. I don’t even wait for the bus.

As a visual artist myself (yep, I’m pretty artsy), I know there is no such thing as a muse.

I can hear you gasping.

But it’s true. Your ideas, your inspiration, your motivation – where the hell do they come from?

From you.

Deep down inside, it’s your climbing into your own head and walking around. It might not be pretty, and there’s probably more than a few cobwebs, but it’s all you. No fucking muse. I get it, some days I’m too sick or tired to do more than basic line edits; so it’s easy to blame some external factor like a magic story-granting fairy.

But you’re selling yourself short.

If you approach writing like marathon training, and focus on just freaking doing it – don’t worry about good ol’ SPAG or whatever – just get it on the page, you’ll find you’re chops get better and better. Sheer practice effect.

So what about all those artists in history that painted the (usually) women who inspired them?

To understand any artist, you gotta think about extreme OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m not talking excessive handwashing, I’m talking about the overwhelming desire to do something (i.e. create) and getting so lost in a project that the finished version (or a stop along the way) seems miraculous to an outsider, but to the artist themselves, it’s just one step along a path of discovery.

They are so caught up in what they’re doing, they don’t even see the countless steps and problems they’ve overcome.

An artist painting a portrait would do a series of sketches, and probably a couple versions of the portrait before they were satisfied. Note the repetition. Series. Multiple versions.

No fucking muse. Just sheer hard work.

And writing is just like that, don’t kid yourself otherwise.

At over 500 words to this post, I’m off to work on a short story, pushing well past 2K today. But I’d like to know, what are your thoughts on writing schedules, and inspiration or a muse?

~Liz

 

 

 

 

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