Working with Writing Muses

columbine flower on hillside
black corgi, writing muses, inspiration, artistic struggle
Edmund judging my artistic struggle.

If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. There’s a great idea floating around in your head, but- you’re working with writing muses.

Uh oh.

This is tricky business. Your partners-in-art have minds of their own. To illustrate my point, author J.R.R. Tolkien often wrote about his characters introducing themselves and insinuating themselves into the stories he was writing. Faramir is one such character, who Tolkien kept around simply because he liked him.

And what do I mean by “writing muses?”

It’s hard work nailing down such a vague concept. Loosely, think of them as inspiration. The caveat I’d add is that they’re opinionated. Very opinionated. At the risk of sounding slightly off my rocker, ask any serious artist about their muses and they’ll tell you the same thing. The original concept of muses comes from Greek mythology surrounding the nine daughters of (maybe) Zeus and Mnemosyne, who artists depended on for inspiration. And we’ve never been free since.

Obviously, I don’t mean you hear actual voices or that goddesses are talking to you. Art is interactive and has distinct messages for each piece and then ample room for interpretation. And wordsmiths, who are a type of artist, understand the same principal. These muses are essentially other interpretations of artistic work that you can spot while thinking through the meaning of a piece.

That doesn’t sound so bad…

Yeah, until you’re trying to write against the intuition. Then the problems start. Suddenly, you have writer’s block like whoa and find yourself arguing against the other instincts at play. This looks a little bit like the inner dialogue of the angel on one shoulder and the demon on the other. Or, worse, nothing comes. Nothing at all.

Of course, there are exercises you can do to push through mental fog, or lack of inspiration. One method is to write out ideas by hand. Another strategy is to word-cluster, which is essentially breaking down your ideas into words or short phrases and pair them with similar concepts or ideas. Again, handwritten exercises. Preferably with vibrant colors.

Let’s consult some famous authors for their feelings about the writing muses:

“Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!” -William Shakespeare
“I’m not in control of my muse. My muse does all the work.” -Ray Bradbury
“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” -Stephen King

Get the gist of it? Because it’s still hurting my head. Still, hope it provided some entertainment for you to get inside the world of being an author. Now, to get back to bartering with my own whimsical muses.

But you know who is always my muse.

In Courage & Care,


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