What’s Your Muse?

If you have written anything, even a book report in high school, you have to have dealt with a lack of creativity or what everyone calls “writer’s block”. My question today, after all my usual rambling on, is what sort of environment helps YOU to write? I’m always interested in hearing what other people use as their muse and what exactly helps them get to writing.

Personally, I’ve found that the most dangerous place to be is inside my own head; I have a constant stream of ideas banging around in there. Some of them are comedic, some are morose, and some are just downright odd. As an example of how much I’ve come to realize that I enjoy writing, I’m constantly churning through subjects in my head and formulating sentence structures in there. Driving to work, hiking through the mountains, laying in bed at night. My brain is a cauldron of ideas at any given moment of the day. There are certain sentences that I will, in my head, toss certain words back and forth in to see which sounds better and gives the sentence more of that “thing”. When I write, I don’t plan to change the world but I do want people to feel some sort emotional connection to the words I’ve written down. I’ve read some books, short stories, and other writings about subjects that I had no prior interest in before beginning to read. THAT’S what I would consider a good writer right there; someone who can draw you in and keep you interested in a subject that you couldn’t care less about.

My biggest problem, and the biggest gripe against myself, is that the more serious ideas I have are the most difficult to get down on paper (I’ll say “on paper”, but it’s usually a keyboard and a screen). I tend to write in a more informal style, although I’m really interested in writing something that I, myself, would be impressed to read. I’ve read several books of Cormac McCarthy and am completely blown away by his control of language, both English AND Spanish. I realize that some people don’t appreciate his writing (or may have just not read anything of his yet) but I’m one of his biggest fanboys you’ll come across. It amazes me that more people (at least people that I know) don’t read his stuff and I’m frankly disappointed because there are some serious discussion points in his writing. His bleak and brutal portrayals and descriptions of his characters are eye opening as a reader and a writer. I guess what I’m trying to say with that little sidenote is that I have some great serious ideas in my head but struggle to put them down into a written medium while maintaining that sense of sobriety to them. I’ve attempted to branch out to some more serious, descriptive pieces but I’m wobbling along on baby steps so far. On another rambling sidenote, I’m planning on a write-up to his 2006 novel “The Road” pretty soon here.

I still haven’t nailed down my go-to muse. Sometimes as I begin writing I’ve got a chilled pint glass next to me full of a dark porter or stout; other times it’s a small tumbler of vodka or whiskey over three or four ice cubes just to relax my mind and open up some ideas. Sometimes I’ve got a musical score playing on my laptop (absolutely LOVE “The Dark Knight” score by Hans Zimmer and have played that most recently during the writing of my review/discussion of “The Grey”), other times it’s Top 40 hits. See what I mean? Not being able to pin down one particular setting to cultivate my writing is a bit aggravating.

I’m interested in what other writers do. I don’t plan on copying your method or anything, I’m just curious about what works for others. Do you have a special shirt you wear? A special song playing? Do you burn a scented candle? Comments are welcome below!

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5 thoughts on “What’s Your Muse?”

  1. I don’t have any special tricks. I sit down in front of the computer and just about go into a trance. No music needed, though if I would listen to any it would be instrumental. Once I’m in the zone, I don’t even notice the dogs barking, or hear my daughter coming and and saying “Step away from the computer.” I frequently bring a cup of coffee in, since caffeine is my drug of choice. I generally forget that it’s there and it sits and grows cold. Often I even forget to eat when the story has me by the throat. Probably the one thing that stands out is that I try to put myself into the character’s head, see through their eyes. I don’t think about it, just write it. Later on I’ll go back and edit, but the closer I can get to taking dictation from the characters, the better the flow is.

    1. That’s awesome; I’ve done coffee, beer, and tequila before. Obviously the coffee was more of a morning thing and the other two were a late night writing session.

      On my post “The Run”, I did a lot of closing my eyes for the sake of trying to visualize what I was trying to type and I think it worked ok.

    2. You can check out my “Recommended Posts” page in the top right corner and see some of the stuff I’m most proud of. Hate to toot my own horn, but there are a few that I put a ton of effort and thought into.

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