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Monday, November 25, 2013

Care and Feeding of Your Muse during the Holidays by JC Hay

Image: Melpomene, The Muse of Tragedy; Elizabeth Sirani
November is drawing to a close, and writers all over are scribbling like mad to hit their word-counts for NaNoWriMo before the month ends. Likewise, those with a wintery bent turn their thoughts to what can be accomplished in what remains of the year. With holidays for many, and gatherings both sacred and secular, it’s a season of hassles, travels, and travails, and it’s too easy to lose the muse in the rush of confusion and crazy. Here then are some ideas I like to use to keep my muse well cared-for.

1)   Keep a notebook with you – if you’re like me, you’re going to spend the holidays around people who are likely to say or do something ridiculous. While I would never insert my family directly into a story, I do like to jot down inspirations and events that I can re-interpret once I’m back in front of the keyboard. Be prepared to grab ideas from all around you, and think about how your characters might respond in a similar situation. The little notes and jots can be a source for scenes, quirks and future stories; just the sort of building blocks with which the muse likes to play.

2)      Feed your Muse – The muse consumes other media as part of her diet, and in the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget to feed her. Read every day, or take in a movie, or engage in some other, non-writing creativity. Graphic novels, audiobooks, theatre and film let you look at story without thinking about the words themselves – it can be a good way to help you find new ways into your story. The point is to let the muse kick back and relax, and feel like she’s having fun without boring her. She’ll be fired up and ready to help you when you sit down at the keyboard. Which brings us to the most obvious thing…

3)      Make time to write – Creativity is a muscle like any other, and if you don’t use it, it starts to atrophy. Set aside 30 minutes or more each day, away from the hubbub and craziness, and just write. If you don’t have a laptop, write longhand (the change in process might even fire your muse up more). If you’re not working on a current WiP, then break out a list of writing prompts and write about one of those. Make the time, and make sure your family and friends respect your writing time (lockable doors and hotel rooms help with that).

That’s the things I try to do to keep the fires of creativity burning in the winter. What are your favorite ways to keep the muse engaged through the long dark months?

About JC Hay

JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are useless without someone to share them. In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade (for Science Fiction Romance), and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance chapter of RWA. His newest space opera, His Lowborn Heart, is coming in December from Lyrical Press. JC Hay is on Twitter, Facebook, and sometimes even http://jchay.com.


NLB said...

I find previous conversations popping up in my stories all the time, and I am happy I added them. I do keep a notebook handy. As I age, I need all the help I can get! Keep writing!
Nancy Lee Badger
M&M and RWA2013

JC Hay said...

I'm in the same boat - though I'll admit to using the voice-memo feature on my phone until I get a chance to jot it down on paper. Better living through technology! :)