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Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to make ‘the muse’ your slave…

Please welcome guest blogger Lori Toland

At least every day I see a tweet or a Facebook status like this:

“I found my muse and back to work on my latest WIP.”

Or… “My muse visited me last night and I wrote 1500 words on my latest WIP.”
But my favorite has to be…  “I’ve found my muse and I’m chaining him to my desk. Take that, you little %$#@.”

When I see these, I chuckle to myself. Muses get a bad rap. Writers blame all their woes of missed deadlines and series being dumped because “my muse has gone missing.”  Well, I have some really bad news for you.

Muses don’t exist. Yeah, you heard me right. Or at least, not in the capacity everyone believes and I’ll tell you why.

I had the chance to go to RT when it was in Orlando in 2009. Then in 2010, when RWA was rescheduled to Orlando, I just had to go because it was in my backyard. I’ve gone to panels and lectures given by dozens of authors, some even NY Times bestselling authors and they all say the same thing:

“There are no such things as muses.”

The gasp I heard from the unpublished authors echoes throughout the room. Then there’s a whisper amongst two people in the audience, “She has to be wrong.”
She’s not wrong. She’s a multi-published author with almost twenty books to her name. Don’t shoot down her advice. You should absolutely listen to her. Instead of scoffing at her, someone asked her why and she explained. It’s a reason I hear a lot from authors who are successful in this business.

Muses do not control your output. They are not typing away at your keyboard, slaving over your story while you’re on your patio, having a martini or a hot cocoa. You are the person putting those words down on the paper. It takes a lot of work to make a novel and the words don’t write themselves.

Instead, muses are our inspiration, the reason I get out of bed and rush to be my computer because I had an idea about my next story. They are the reason my husband asks, “Why are grinning and staring off into space?” Nowadays he knows me too well.

Sometimes we find it easy to dump our writing aside because we are too busy. Your kids have soccer practice, your day job is smothering you with work, your MIL is coming over and your house is a wreck. These are legitimate excuses but be wary. They are just more reasons not to work on your novel.

Another question came up: “I set aside my time every day to work on my novel and for some reason, I can’t seem to write one more word. I’m stuck in this scene and ready to tear my hair out. ARGH! HELP ME!”

This is a legitimate problem. I sometimes work around this by moving around in my story and writing different scenes but I’m just avoiding facing my problem. One author at RT put it best when she said, “If you are stuck at a scene in your book, your plot has jumped the tracks at some point. Back your story up to the point where your story was working and then fix it.”

I’ve applied what these authors told me to my own career. I’ve been published for 2 years this February. I have 3 short stories, 2 novellas, and 2 novels published. I have one novel under contract, due to release early 2012 and countless novels and novellas in the hopper, ready to be worked on.  What I am saying is not believing in muses controlling me has worked for my career.

So please, don’t chain your muse to your desk… that is, unless he wants to be. But that is a whole other blog post.

CEO by day, erotic romance writer by night, Lori Toland lives in Orlando where the summers are hot but the romance between her characters is even hotter. Writing since the tender age of 13, Lori somehow finds time to play video games and watch movies while taking care of her beloved cats and a husband who will forever be her hero.

Soul Seduction

Ashlee Bennett has her priorities straight. Fighting demons is at the top of the list until she meets her sexy neighbor, Luke Byrne. She shouldn't want him, but she can't stop dreaming about his buff body and sexy grin.

Her world is turned upside down when Luke follows her one night and is determined to stand beside her and fight. Ashlee knows she needs to keep her distance from Luke, not just to protect her virginity but her heart as well. But Luke may be the only one who can save her from the night, and her dreams.

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