Positive Writer

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How to Care for Your Writing Muse

~ Note: This is a guest post by Lisa Tener, she is the recipient of the Silver Stevie Award for Mentor/Coach of the Year 2014. For a free guided visualization to connect with your inner muse, click here. You can also read Lisa’s book writing blog or find her articles on writing and publishing on the Huffington Post. ~

As writers, we often expect our inner muse to produce on demand. Sometimes it works and sometimes…you know…it starts with feeling a little blocked, turns into dread, you pass by your desk feeling guilty, and then you let the papers pile on your desk to completely avoid writing.

Nature is a powerful writing stimulant.

If you think of your creative source, what I tend to call your muse, as an inner being that requires care and nurturing, you can reach and sustain a creative, productive state with greater ease.

You can even ask your muse what he/she needs from you to come out and play—to write and fully express.

Your muse probably needs the basics:

  • A good night’s sleep.
  • Enough water to hydrate those brain cells, especially the “right” ones!
  • Nutritious foods that feed your mind and body well
  • Exercises and stress reducing activities that support your wellbeing.

Your muse may also need you to cultivate a sense of safety—that you won’t judge your writing too soon or ask for feedback from a hypercritical person. Your muse may need permission to write a lousy first draft that you can polish later, after you’ve written your first draft.

My muse loves walks in nature. As I move, my creativity flows. You may also find that nature is a powerful stimulant for your muse. Many writers do. So, when writing is stuck, I often recommend getting out in nature first. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

When people tell me they have writer’s block, I often ask about their creative space:

  • Is your writing space multipurpose? If so, perhaps you can find ways to organize your space better, cover up other projects with a scarf or cloth when you are writing, or find a better spot. Claim the space for your muse when you write.
  • Do you need to clean or clear your writing space? Creative energy usually flows better when you clean up the messes.

You may well know these things and just forget to do them. Here’s one tip that often surprises writers: Your muse thrives on gratitude.

When you end a writing session on a grateful note, you nurture your inner muse and set yourself up positively for the next time you write . When you focus on what you did not accomplish, think how disheartened it must make your inner muse! So, allow yourself to feel good about whatever you did during your creative time.

If this feels awkward, don’t worry. The more you nurture your muse, the more creative flow you will experience. Your practices of self-care and gratitude will build on themselves and become even more powerful with time.

How to feel grateful for writing on an unproductive day:

  • Think of what you did accomplish, even if you came short of your plan. If you aimed for a chapter and wrote a page, be grateful for the page, even if it feels forced.
  • If you sat at your desk without writing, waiting for inspiration, trust that your muse needed down time before beginning. Trust that more will come the next time you sit down, or the next, or the next.
  • Picture that you will write easily the next time you sit down to write. Trust. Feel grateful for the writing you know is coming!

How do (or will) you nurture your muse and do you have any suggestions for your fellow writers? Share in the comments.

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This is a guest post. Let the author know if you enjoyed the post in the comments! If you're interested in guest posting on Positive Writer read the guidelines first and if you agree, then send your best work.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

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  • This post is so timely! I worked for over two hours last evening totally rearranging my writing desk. We live in a small ranch home with two adult children still living with us, so I do not have the luxury of having an office or a room to call my own (yet….). But I do have a long black table that I love that is my dedicated work/hobby/craft space, but it had become cluttered. Yesterday I decided that enough was enough and after spending almost the entire evening making more room on that wonderful table, I finally sat down and wrote. I loved being able spread out my papers, seeing less junk and clutter on my space and feeling that I’d made a beautiful area to write in. I didn’t want to stop but sleep called my name….

    • Lisa Tener

      Beth and Sued, I am glad the post struck a chord.

      • Lisa Tener

        Forgive the typo. I am sure i typed your name correctly and my phone “fixed it.”

  • Syed Ali

    Looks like you were reading my mind for the last 3-4 days. Amazing advice, need of time. Thanks.

  • Susan Mary Malone

    Great post, Lisa! The muse is a complicated lover, but this is so true: “The more you nurture your muse, the more creative flow you will experience.”
    What I’ve found to be true in my writing life, and how I counsel my writers as well, is you have to have not just the time to write, but the space and mindset as well. When life is cluttered . . .
    I love this. Thank you!

    • Yes, when someone is waking up at 3 in the morning to write,usually it means they haven’t been making enough “space” in their waking hours.

  • Just the reminder I needed, Lisa. Nobody likes a bully, so why should our muse be any different. I need to shift my focus from what I’m NOT accomplishing, to what I am. TY!

    • Exactly. Sidle up to your muse and listen! Everyone likes being listened to, especially your muse.

  • Phenomenal article Lisa. A great reminder. I would like to suggest that sales is a creative profession just as writing is. Thus, getting out in nature is a great way for a sales professional to come up with creative ways to solve client problems.

    • Yes, I wholeheartedly agree, Chris. Sales is creative and so is writing about sales!

  • Leanne Dyck

    Thank you for this article. I find it so important to treat my muse well by doing many of the things you pointed out.
    Unfortunately, right now my writing desk is in a corner of the living room. I dream of changing that situation. But for right now it will have to do.
    To add to your list, I reduce the stress on my muse by keeping writing fun. One way of doing this is by limiting the amount of shoulds. For example, I don’t have a daily word or page goal. But I do write everyday.
    And I am happy with my productivity. Currently I have ten manuscripts in publisher slush piles.

    • It sounds like you are doing well productivity wise, Leanne. Have you tried going out to a library or other quiet space to see how your muse likes that (vs. a corner of the living room)? The libraries near me often have special quiet rooms with beautiful views.

      • Leanne Dyck

        I live on a small island and so there is no quiet room in my local library. But I am be able to find the equivalent. Thank you for the suggestion.

  • Scott Stavrou

    Nice piece, Lisa – and agreed, caring for the muse is indeed a vital part of crossing into creative nirvana. My muse gets tired of being locked up with a computer in the office and likes to socialize and travel. Being a part of a community is stimulating and generates more stories. Genius germinates in groups – and new ideas are often borne of new places, new people, new experiences…one of the reasons we work on this at http://www.WriteAwayEurope.com and offer Creative Writing Retreats in Captivating Locales in Europe (Spain, Greece, Italy, France & Czech Republic), led by published writers and publishing professionals, ranging from 1-3 weeks and regularly also offers regular merit-based Fellowship Awards. Writing is a journey – enjoy the scenery – and treat your muse right to write right!