It’s day twenty and I’ve seen some talk on NaNoNoWriMo blogs of muses showing up or, more often, not. I’m sure for some of you muses are a very useful metaphor for your creative process. However, sitting on your arse waiting for them to show up? Frequently not a good approach to actual writing.
“Oh noes! My muse is not here! I cannot write! Instead I will play Left 4 Dead 2 until muse shows up.”
This method will leave you with kickarse zombie killing skills but will not be much chop when it comes to, you know, writing.
Now, I’m not a very spiritual or mystical person, so feel free to ignore me. But I can tell you that even my most mystical woo-woo writer friends do not sit around waiting for their muse to show up. They write when they’re feeling inspired. They write when they’re not. Depending on deadlines, they write when it’s a gorgeous day and they’d much rather be cycling, they write when they’re supposed to be at a movie with friends, they write when they haven’t had enough sleep, they write when they’re ill. They write because it is their job to do so.
One of the cool things about NaNoWriMo is that it gives you a taste of what it’s like to be a professional writer. Of what it’s like to write day after day after day even when you don’t want to. What some of you may discover is that it’s not for you. That you truly cannot write without inspiration. That deadlines don’t galvanise you, they freeze you. In which case the life of a full-time pro writer is not for you.
That does not mean you can’t still write. At all. There are many published writers, who write in their spare time, for whom it is not their main source of income. The majority of published writers are like that. There are even more unpublished writers for whom the writing is the thing and getting published is not the goal. Many writers of fanfic have zero desire to turn pro.
Which leads me to revise my position: it’s perfectly fine to wait for your muse to show up if writing is not your job. But if you depend upon writing then you have to learn to make it a habit, a way of life, and not depend on totally unreliable muses and inspiration and the like.
Don’t forget to check out Scott’s NaNo writing tips.