Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Romancing The Muse

Welcome Lynne Marshall to this Writer's Wednesday with a fantastic post about the care and keeping of your muse!

DEFINITION OF MUSE: “The spirit that is thought to inspire a poet or other artist; source of genius or inspiration.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.

Occasionally it takes something out of the ordinary to help cultivate the special relationship between you and that sometimes-elusive sprite within.

The following are a few tips for tickling your muse.


Get off your duff and drag the little muse with you.

It is a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel good, which helps us create. Though endorphins don’t last that long and may be released just as easily by eating protein, having sex, or taking a shower, walking is a good way to pump up the volume, burn a few calories and reap the writer’s benefits.

When I take walks, I find my brain goes on alert. Fresh air, heat from the sun, the fragrance of spring or cut grass, anything and everything makes an acute impression on my senses. My muse hovers above delivering these gifts from nature straight to my olfactory center, onward to the sensation receptors of my skin, and the rods and cones of my special green photoreceptors beneath my tastefully waxed brows.

I share a panoramic view with my muse and I’m suddenly gushing with adjectives, similes, and adverbs (be sure to edit out those adverbs, and watch out for an overabundance of similes!). With a nod from my muse, I can finally fix the scene that proved to stump me the day before.


One major concern I have is the urge to talk to my muse in public. I fear I might find myself repeating aloud the hot dialogue between my hero and heroine as it makes itself known to me on my walks. I so don’t want to be known as the neighborhood nut, so I reserve my muse-talking for indoors. When my muse feels chatty, I smile appreciatively and make a beeline for the computer where I transfer all of my wonderful ideas onto the screen. The muse rewards me by sitting on my shoulder and whispering little sweet nothings into my ear, which I immediately type up and claim as my own.

Sometimes the muse speaks to me through music. There’s nothing more powerful than a Beethoven or Vivaldi Symphony to help write sweeping dramatic scenes. Or I’ll listen to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings then tap into my deep reservoirs of sadness and try putting it onto paper. I’ll play the theme from Bonanza or The Magnificent Seven and feel the stiff leather of a saddle as I ride into the make believe sunset. When I’m too pooped to percolate ideas, my muse will play Queen’s greatest hits and my energy level rises along with my blood pressure.

My muse slips Luther Vandross, Josh Groban, or Michael Bublé into the iPod to set the mood when it’s time to write that special love scene, and as their velvet voices croon, my hero and heroine light up the computer screen brighter than the aurora borealis.

Sometimes my purveyor of fresh ideas vanishes. I cajole, wheedle, and coax but the little brat refuses to materialize. That’s when I…


When all else fails, get aggressive. Corner your muse, put it in a jar, and talk tough.

“Now you listen here, Tinker Bell. You work for me! If I put you on the clock I expect you to throw me ideas faster than Frisbees in the park. You got that?”

Okay, so this method doesn’t always work, but, when in a jam, it’s worth a try isn’t it?

Like any good relationship, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your muse. Do whatever it takes to stimulate, activate and perpetuate the special kinship between you and that spirit of great notions that dwells within. Otherwise, you may wind up pitifully repeating the phrase on a ribbon I once bought in Atlanta, “Has anyone seen my muse?”

As luck would have it, I’ve now spent the last half hour staring at my empty computer screen. All my brain cells seem to have fizzled out. My muse is on the lam. I’ve just about given up writing anything more today, when my dog bounds into the room and pushes his pesky pooch face into my lap.

“You want to take a walk?” I ask.

He pants his affirmation.

You never know when your muse is talking, or what form it’s morphing into, so my advice? Look, listen, and leap into action.

I follow my dog’s lead. We head out the door for that walk. I sniff the sweet afternoon breeze, and my nerve synapses start sending impulses all over my brain. I glance at my dog, he looks adoringly up at me, and I can barely keep up with the ideas for that next story taking form in my brain…

Lynne’s current story is The Boss and Nurse Albright, HMB 3/10 UK and NA. It is the first of her unofficial Santa Barbara series for the Medical Romance line.


  1. Lynne, I love this! And what a smart puppy you have, such a willing muse accomplice. I used to take my Ipod with me while walking. I leave it at home now and wait for inspiration to talk to me. Great post and congrats on the Santa Barbara series.

  2. Lynne, I always talk to my muse in the car when I'm driving. I also enjoy walks and when I hit the beach, my muse takes over! Great post.

  3. Ah yes, why are muses so fickle?

    Loved The Boss and Nurse Albright Lynne. Really loved it!

  4. Fun blog topic, Lynne! Those naughty capricious muses lead us on a merry dance sometimes!

    Mine is a bit of a bikie-chick. She likes nothing better than to get on the motorbike and go for a ride. It's much better when I go as a pillion for this since when I'm actually at the handle bars I should keep my mind on the road!

    The Boss and Nurse Albright sounds like a fabulous read - I can't wait for April when it'll be on the shelf DownUnder!

  5. Hi Lynne

    I think I lost my muse. Have to find it again. My brain is in limbo right now. I'm trying to unblock it for ideas, waiting on my proposals to go thru, I want to start on a new project. Nothing seems to work, so I'm reading books at the moment, but mostly I'm playing. My hubby says I need a break --it's been nonstop for 3 years of deadlines and now that I'm without one momentarily I'm worried I won't have any more ideas :)

  6. Hello Lynne:

    This year I've been attempting muse training. I show up and pray that my muse does as well. She might as well, everything I write with her is so much better than without and she's just going to have to eventually fix all the bad stuff I crank out when she's on the lam. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a 'muse driver.' However as a treat I often feed her chocolate...waaaay too much chocolate.
    Maggie Marr

  7. Thank you Donnel! I love to listen to music when walking, but, like you, I worry that if I get too involved with the music, I might miss some fantastic conversation with my muse!

  8. Hi Carol! Isn't it handy that these days everyone has a "hands-free" phone, so when we talk to our muses, no one driving by will notice we don't have a phone stuck in our ear? Whew!
    Oh, yeah, the beach! Must have something to do with those Frisbees whizzing on the waves?
    Thanks for reading the blog!

  9. Amy! My book mate for March! I've just come home from a scrumptious dinner with hubby to celebrate book #10 being sold as of this morning, and your kind comments have made those chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne all the more delicious!

    Thank you!

  10. HI Sharon! Love the bike chick muse idea. My husband has recently bought himself a motocycle and wants me to take some road trips with him. ha! I wonder what will happen when the rubber hits the road along with my muse, my hubby and me?
    And you're absolutely right about it being best if you are the passenger instead of driving the bike. Go you, bike chick!

  11. Charlene! I guarantee that your muse will reappear soon. I agree with your husband that you need to play. Give yourself some well-deserved time off, and keep reading. But get your blood moving too! Walk, hike, dance, whatever pushes your pulse, you'll reap the benefits, and soon a new idea will plant itself firmly in your brain! In the meantime, enjoy yourself.

  12. Very well said, Lynne. My muse often appears in dreams, especially if I ask myself a question about my story, or a character, and then sleep on it (not the character, the question) ha ha.
    I just ordered The Boss and Nurse Albright, and I'm looking forward to the read. Congratulations for #10 being accepted, and a big shout out to Amy in the land down under.

  13. Oh, Maggie, Muses LURVE chockies! I believe in muse training, but sometimes those dang sprites can't resist being contrary. We think rainbow, they think Nor'easter. We suggest surprise pregnancy, they insist on triplets!!!

  14. Hey Robena! I'm with you on lucid dreaming. We can direct our subconscious through dreams and solve plot problems or story snags. Our muses don't need sleep.

    Thanks for ordering my book!

  15. I love that you tough-talk your muse when it's not doing it's job!

    You're awesome, Lynne! Great post!

  16. Thanks, Joanna, but remember, that tactic doesn't always work!

    Thanks so much for visiting the blog.

  17. Hi, Lynne, congrats on the latest release:-) My muse needs a lot of stretching and working out with a whip. Oh how I would love for it to cough up a stream of ideas just on its own!

  18. Hey Fiona, don't forget that TLC (tender loving care) might get your muse coughing up a great story kernal, to! Having said that, stretching and warming up is always important before working out!
    A whip? Poor baby, muse...

  19. Lynne, how wonderful to have a muse and a trainer all wrapped up in a beautiful fur coat. Thanks for all of the great hints at how to work with the ever elusive muses.


  20. Fantastic post Lynne! I enjoyed it a lot.

    Guess where I'm going right now?

    Out to walk the dog. Muse beware!

  21. Thanks for reading Mia and Donna!

    Muse Beware! Loved it, Donna.

    And Mia, I must say I've never thought about my dog as a personal trainer before. I know in many ways he does have me trained - especially in the area of doling out biscuits.

  22. Bottom line for me is to cojole the characters. I just start writing, no matter how hard it seems, and before I know it the storyline and dialogue is moving forward. That said, travel and getting out into the 'real' world provide the ingredients for the write. Like a 'real world' job, you gotta show up and push through the doldrums. Not always fun. It is the stuff of work and nearly always, reward.

    Thanks for the great blog!
    Christine London

  23. You are so right, Christine. I forgot one heading: FEED THE MUSE.
    We must throw ourselves into life and feed our muses so during famines they can dig into those creative reserves.

  24. What a delightful a-MUS(e)-ing post. I think I hear my dog and my muse calling me--they want to go out and play (in the almost four feet of snow we got last week).

    The Boss and Nurse Albright was a wonderful read and it was paired up so well with Amy's book!

  25. Lynne,
    My muse says, "Sit your butt down and get busy." I'm the one that won't listen. I'm trying to get better about listening.

  26. Nancy, and Susan. Thanks for reading. Nancy - I hope you make it home okay in that snow! and Susan, I think your muse has the right idea!

    "Nixi" wish I knew what you said. Here's hoping you enjoy reading category romance!