WHEN THE MUSE VACATIONS by Judith Ross Enderle

shutterstock_132452552Every once in awhile my muse, that creative cheer leader that whispers encouragement and shares fabulous ideas, takes a vacation. I don’t know where she goes or how she chooses a time to leave, but sometimes she’s not anywhere around. This missing muse used to panic me. What if I never had a good story idea again? What if I couldn’t finish my current project? What if there were no what-ifs ever again? (Writers are so good at imagining the worst.) But then I realized that a muse needs time off in the same way a writer sometimes needs time off. And perhaps for the same reasons. So—

Here’s what I try when my muse takes time off:

I might take a break, too. Shift into a different mode, another interest. Gardening helps to calm my brain and I find it often helps me solve plot problems (no pun intended).

Read. Read. Read. I try to pay attention to what keeps me turning pages, how the author solves a knotty problem for the main character, word choices, the voice of the author and the voices of the characters, emotions made visible through showing, the setting details, the sensory images. I’ve learned a lot about writing from reading.

Walk. I enjoy walking. On a long walk I can let my mind wander and explore the outdoors.
Sometimes I call a fellow author. I’m not the only one whose muse goes off to a muse convention or on a Hawaiian vacation.

An afternoon out can help. Over lunch with a friend, we can catch up on life. We might talk about old times and new times to come. Sometimes we talk about everything except writing. Perhaps a muse notices when you aren’t missing her as much as she expected and she comes back sooner than planned.

Still, every once in a while, unexpected life happens outside of writing. Sometimes we need to abandon our muse to take care of family, ourselves, all kinds of life happenings. That’s important. The muse understands. How else will we know how to create the tough times and the emotions that go with them when we get back to our story characters, when life settles down, when the muse is there to whisper to us again?

Have you found other ways to get past the missing muse times? Or the tough life times? If so, please share in the comments.

4 thoughts on “WHEN THE MUSE VACATIONS by Judith Ross Enderle

  1. I hate the long pauses while I revise hoping for the right word. The right idea. Sometimes I take a thesaurus break. I do love my internet research,The beach helps me. Any kind of walk. My other favorite mental relaxation is jigsaw puzzles. Thanks for the post.!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Susan. What would we do without references, like the Thesaurus and the internet? Words and research often lead to new projects, too.

  3. I like to enter contests like the one on the last page of The Week where you come up with an absurdist punny title for an absurdist quirky situation currently revealed in a one-inch story in the obscurest part of any newspaper. Another approach that jars me into writing or at least creative problem-solving is making lists, which usually devolve into absurdist punny quirkish obscurest ideas that never see sunlight but liberate my thinking in unexpected ways and help me come up with an idea that might actually work. Walking also helps. As does sunlight and fresh air. As did answering this column.

    • I’m finally catching up on comments. Thanks for visiting and sharing some of the ways you get into the writing mood. I’m all for walking and sun, too. And pulling weeds.