Monday, March 26, 2007

Writer Bullshit: The Muse:

The muse is bullshit. Yeah, I know, I just shot a sacred cow. And what a way for me to re-enter my blog after a bit of a hiatus (was busy...writing. Heh I know, shocking)

The muse is a nice idea. It's a romantic metaphor, but too many people start to believe in it as some kind of literal immutable reality. “My muse isn't here today.” “I can't write when I don't feel inspiration.” blah blah blah. Bullshit.

As long as you have two hands and eyeballs and a working brain, you can write. (And really a working brain is the only requirement, since there are other methods of writing which don't require working eyeballs and hands.)

I believe the muse idea can be damaging to a developing writer and I don't accept it. I know from personal experience that most inspiration comes while in the act of writing, not before. If you don't start, you'll never get there.

The muse is like Dumbo's magic feather. You believe you need the feather to fly, but you really don't. You've got those big floppy ears that make you fly. The feather is just a nice idea. Magical thinking, but not real. YOU are the magic.

When you believe that, you'll be free of this silly belief that you have to be properly inspired to write. No you don't. I write quite often without a hint of inspiration and often my words from days of inspiration are not perceptibly better than my days when I wasn't inspired.

I know you want that first draft to be genius, but it's probably not going to happen. I know some people write and edit as they go along and end up with a perfect draft at the end of the novel. And if that's your method, I'm not going to knock it.

But I'm a draft writer. And anyone who has a paralyzing fear of the blank page, might try this method. The first draft is the crap draft. Really, it's awful. But if you start writing by draft, instead of expecting to get it right the first time, or before you can move on to other parts of the story, that mysterious and dreaded ailment, writer's block, is unlikely to darken your door.

How does one write the crap draft? You just write it. Really. Use an outline or don't use an outline. Have character sketches or don't have them. Just make a word quota for the novel, and a deadline can help. Then just write. ANYTHING. Really, you're characters will do something, I promise.

If you need proof of this, read: “No Plot, No problem” By: Chris Baty. If it was just his word only, you might not have to believe it. But tens of thousands of people meet up online every year to write novels (the crap draft) in one month and many of them succeed at it, and most of them just put words on paper without needing the muse to show up.

The most important thing to remember when you sit down to write the crap draft is: The words don't have to be right, they just have to exist. You can put the feather in the drawer now. And forget your muse. The muse works for you, not the other way around. If he gets uppity, fire him and keep writing.

11 comments:

spyscribbler said...

LOLOL ... I enjoy the extra boost now and then, but he is fickle. :-)

Michelle said...

LOL, you know how to make a combeback, Zoe. When I started writing I used to think I needed to be inspired first, but that was just me making excuses not to write. You are so right that the inspiration comes from the story on the page.

Edie said...

Nora Roberts says the same thing, so you're in terrific company. I'm at the beginning of a new story, and having a hard time finding the right tone. Your blog is just what I need to get going on it. The hell with the tone. I just need to write!

Zoe Winters said...

Spy, hehe.

Michelle, Thanks! Yep, just excuses. ;) Go write!

Edie, Awesomeness. :) hehe

ALL: I'm at crunchtime for a self-imposed deadlines so that's why I'm slacking on the blog. I have other stuff going on right now.

Liz Kreger said...

Like the feather analogy, Zoe. And a very true one. If I waited for inspiration or that "Muse", I'd never get any words down on a page.

Generally, I find reading over the previous couple of pages is all I need to get going again.

As so many writers say, there is no wrong way to write. You just have to find the right way for YOU.

Karin Tabke said...

Zoe, you hit the nail on the head. When I don't write it's because I chose not to write. I am being L-A-Z-Y. The muse had nothing to do with it. and I am the Queen of the crap drafts. I love going back and making them purdy.

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks Liz and Karin! Sorry for lack of personal reply lately, things have been crazy around here.

The first thing to suffer is of course my blog, because when I have to choose between writing or the blog... ;)

spyscribbler said...

I was just popping by, wondering where you've been. Glad you're writing!

spyscribbler said...

Hey Zoe! You've been tagged for the Thinking Blogger Award!

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks Spy, I have no idea what that means, but thanks. :)

I haven't written on this blog in a month because I've had lots of things going on. Writing and a small part time business. Hopefully I'll be able to get back to blogging soon. But of course blogging is always the thing that suffers first.

Camilla said...

I tagged you Zoe!