Hello SErs! Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all had a good holiday season. Today being the first post of 2019, I thought it might be nice to kick things off by looking at creativity … more specifically, where it comes from. What are we talking about when we mention having a muse?
Personally, I’ve never experienced talking to or with my muse. It doesn’t manifest that way. I found my creative flow after learning to meditate, and it was in that quiet mind that I discovered what could be called my silent muse.
Below is a great video about the split brain and its implications for the muse within. Please do take a look, especially the bit that talks about the brain telling itself stories! The video lasts for just under five minutes. Youtube has lots of great videos on the brain and personality.
In summary, we have two sides of the brain. The left is the logical, loud side that talks and talks. The right is the creative silent side. Our speech centre lives in the left side of the brain, hence its dominance in our everyday thinking mind, the one we are most aware of. So, how do we get in touch with our muse?
The trick is in getting your left brain to communicate with your right brain. You have to know what questions to ask your muse, and then the left, logical brain has to shut up and listen. It takes confidence to listen to your creative, non-logical side. Though it’s always there, we have a tendency to ignore it and simply not hear it. As you can see from my experience, the ability to sit quietly and ‘Muse’ plays a key part in tapping into the creative side.
Find a quiet place where you can sit and let yourself imagine. Daydream. As a young child, I spent my life daydreaming. So, I suppose, in one way, I’ve been listening to my muse for most of my life. Unfortunately, as a young adult, I let a lack of self-confidence get in the way and stopped trusting my muse. So, of course, I lost touch with that flow. It took a lot of years and lots of meditation to reconnect.
- Die-hard planners beware: Sticking too rigidly to your logical story plan is likely to kill your muse. So do allow room for diversion and digression as your writing progresses. That’s your muse trying to get your attention. And your muse is where your best creative ideas live.
- Die-hard pantsers beware: if you don’t have any idea where you’re going, you’re likely to end up nowhere.
Can you see how a middle way is what is needed here? We need both planning and pantsing to write effectively. We have to use both left and right brain. Mutual exclusivity of one or the other leaves something huge missing.
Think about a place or setting … fill it with sensory input … Romantic? Scary? Suspenseful? Supernatural?
Think about a person in that place. In your mind, become that person. Follow them around. What might they think and feel?
From time to time, ask your muse, ‘What comes next?’ … ‘What happens?’
Here is where free-flow (stream of consciousness) writing can come in useful, extremely so. Just sit and type out whatever imaginings you come up with. Don’t allow the left brain to sensor. That comes in handy later, when you revise.
While you write, keep it right
Let the creative brain be in charge.
Recently, while making a list of objects that interest me … a right-brain creative exercise … I wrote down ‘fountain pen‘. My left brain (logical as ever) asked what on earth was interesting about a fountain pen. Determined not to let my judgemental side win the day, it stayed on the list. Later, while generating story ideas using my list, the fountain pen leapt from the page at me. So, obviously, my right brain liked it for some reason. So, I asked, ‘What’s so interesting about a fountain pen?’ The answer came immediately as a series of vivid images …
It only works when filled with blood. Whatever you write with it comes true.
Ooh, now I liked that! From there, I had a character [a bullied girl] and a setting [boarding school]. Fantastic short story set-up 🙂
While some people find it helpful for their muse to be a person who talks to them, this doesn’t work for me, not yet. But who knows what the future may bring? For now, I have to listen hard so that I can hear my silent muse. I do have an onboard critic, which is sometimes helpful and sometimes not. If that is the case, then it follows that I also have an onboard muse.
What about you? Are you in touch with your muse? If so, is it personified? What creative-flow exercises work best for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.