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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Not Waiting for the Muse

The romantic approach to writing suggests that you need inspiration to do good work. Some ancient writers thought the gods inspired their work, and they picked a a name for the god of creative inspiration -- Muse. When the Muse visited, an artist’s creativity was unleashed and great works of art sprang forth almost unbidden. When the Muse refused to visit, creative efforts bore no fruit. These notions persist among some writers even today. If they do not feel inspired, they do not make an effort to create. They seem to think that there is no solution for the problem but to wait for the arrival of the Muse.

I'm not a believer in the Muse. True, some writers are more inspired than others, and many writer has unexplained bursts of creativity and productivity. However, a writer hoping to develop a career cannot wait for the arrival of a favorable mood to do the work that needs doing.

A professional is someone who performs well even when he or she doesn’t feel like working. The most prolific writers work under all kinds of conditions and in all kinds of moods. The quality or quantity of the work may not be universally high, but the output is there.

Set yourself a writing schedule or quota and to stick to it. You should schedule either a certain number of hours of work a day (or week) or a certain number of words. Goals increase output in almost every arena, and it certainly works with writing. Admittedly, this is a bootcamp approach to writing, but if you follow this advice, you will write more poems, articles and books than you would depending on the Muse.

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