Too many great books have never been penned because their writers were held hostage by waning inspiration. It’s time for a deliberate approach to creativity. It’s time to sack the muse.
Artists of every genre feel the pain of low ebb; it’s a debilitating condition. And some of the blame can be pinned on those noble Greeks and their belief in the muses - a sisterhood of goddesses who inspired artistic creativity in humankind. To be fair, the ancients did put flesh on the philosophy with the splendor of their columns, temples, sculptures and heroic literature. And even their word muse has been adapted into modern language in the form of music, mosaic, amuse and museum. It’s easy to see that in each of these derivations is the seed of their theory.
Still, were every artist totally dependent on the whim of an ethereal force, many magnificent works would be missing from cultures of every generation. And though giftedness cannot actually be learned, it is undeniable that any artist can learn to nourish her creativity in practical ways. What the Greeks attributed to mystical energy may be initiated by planning and resolve.
Writing is similar to other art forms in that it is soulful expression. As such, it requires a certain framework - focus, setting, and mood - in order that beauty may be brought forth.
The writing brain craves an intensity of focus so that the gathering thoughts may be marshaled and examined, shined and arranged. Word-crafting happens best in the vastness of silence – both in actual physics and in the field of the mind. Yet being especially visual, the writer-artist often needs something both restful and stimulating on which to rest the eyes. Perhaps that is why many writers are drawn to nature’s vignettes because in the waving plain or billowing sea or soaring peaks, the vision is filled and yet strangely still seeking. But a high-rise studio can yet offer an invitation to the writer who discovers how best to nourish her inner muse. It might be a framed landscape or abstract on the desk, it could be a particular type of sonata in the background or a certain sort of latte in hand that casts an inspirational glow over the laptop or steno pad. Whatever sparks the mind’s eye becomes the incubator of creative thought.
But most vital for any writer is that combination of attitude and discipline that form the necessary perimeters of creativity. Being willing to slip into the writing mode and start tapping away at the keyboard is half of the battle. For when all is said and done, giving life to words is a process which demands hard work. And when the birthing pains are past and the muse has seemingly evaporated into the murk, the writer who has learned well her lesson can focus her gaze and once again feel the stirrings of creativity within her soul.
Fare thee well, fickle muse; visit when thou can. For me, the words await, and I must write.