If you’ve been reading my posts up until now, with all the references to whipping and beating my muse, some of you may have concluded I’m some kind of sadist. This is not the case.
That said, I firmly encourage you to beat your muse. (Oh, and so there’s no confusion here, my muse is imaginary – no beating of real people or things condoned or encouraged!)
What do I mean? I mean that yes, I do believe there’s something to be said for inspiration, and indeed, this could be personified by a kind of muse. And sometimes the muse holds the whip, and other times, as a productive artist, you need to steal it back and take control.
Is my muse sometimes like a demon, demanding I write, giving me ideas completely out of the blue (a post-apocalyptic for a paranormal historical author?!) and demanding I write, write, write? Yes. Do I comply? So long as this isn’t the middle of the night, or I am otherwise too occupied with other things like formal occasions or events where writing is impossible, yes, I write. This kind of inspiration takes you on a wave, sometimes whipping you on beyond the point of exhaustion which you hardly notice in the heat of the moment, in the “zone,” these are truly amazing, exhilarating times. It takes you unexpected places, and as an artist, can create some of your best work.
But then there are the other days. When the muse is on holiday or otherwise occupied. Some artists and writers take this to mean they can’t write. They wait for inspiration, wait indeed on the whims or dictates of their muse. This can mean they write infrequently, inconsistently, thus perhaps decreasing their productivity.
This I won’t do. Here’s where I steal the whip, and beat my muse.
I am the kind of writer who loves to write, but I also want writing to be my career. And, like any other career, I can’t just do it “when I feel like it.” I’m the kind of person who dislikes excuses. Are there writers and artists who are just or more creative than I am without beating their muses? Possibly, probably, and all the power to them. But I have encountered more who are less productive, waiting on their muse instead of taking control, meaning it may have been years and they haven’t yet completed one manuscript or creation.
The creativity resides inside the artist – that’s what makes them an artist, not merely a conduit. Use what the muse gives you, and demand more, keep going, keep pushing. As a productive and professional writer and artist, your passion is also your career, which means sometimes it’s wonderful as you ride the crest of creativity, and sometimes it’s hard, slogging through re-writes, or stuck on middle scenes. But you do it, every day, because that’s your job. Different than the regular 9 to 5, but still your job.
My muse and I have an understanding: we work as hard as we can, and I demand more and more and more, until there is nothing left to give. And then, it’s my turn to refill, recharge the muse and me. Indeed, this will be the topic for a subsequent post on pampering the muse, as balance is both good and necessary. (Don’t beat the muse until dead – this is likewise bad, since pushing the muse is also pushing yourself.)
But until then, take charge of your creativity. Take charge of your muse and inspiration, and get to work. If necessary, beat the muse until it knows who’s boss, and you can experience the best of productivity and creativity. No more excuses, but work. More writing or creating means more practice, which makes you more productive and better at your craft. Not only does this make you more proficient, but it helps to relieve us all of the artist stereo-type which rarely befits or meshes well with a dependable, consistent professional.
What kind of writer or artist are you? Have you considered the benefits of beating your muse? Please, leave your comments below. I look forward to your contributions.