Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?
Just about every English-speaking author has heard of the Writing Muse. The spirit of inspiration that fills the mind with words and ideas, makes the story flow, and is the bane of writer’s block.
Most authors eventually learn to write whether or not the Muse is with them. But a few have always relied on the Muse, either because it has always been with them or they have never tried to write without it.
And every NaNoWriMo some of these writers come to grief when the Muse abandons them.
A few years ago, a young and eager writer signed up for CampNaNoWrimo. He had written many short stories and wanted to try writing a novel. Knowing he could sometimes write several thousand words an hour, he didn’t expect to have any problems meeting the deadline.
He had a good story idea, something that had been sitting in his mason jar for a while because it was too complex for a short story. He did a bit of plotting, pre-NaNo. Nothing too involved, but enough to know who his characters were and the general direction the story would take. And when the 1st rolled around he started writing.
The Muse, as always, was with him. Words flowed, scenes rolled. By the end of the first week, he was halfway to his final word count.
When the Muse left in the middle of the second week, he wasn’t concerned. He was well ahead of schedule and the Muse had left before. It would come back. He was sure of it.
By the middle of the third week, he was getting worried. The Muse hadn’t returned, even for a short time. And now he was falling behind schedule. But, he reassured himself, when the Muse was with him, the words flowed. He’d make up the work. There was plenty of time.
The last day of the third week he sat down at his computer and stared at the draft. Willing the Muse to return and bring the words back. He tried, for the first time to write without the Muse. It was slow and painful, pulling one word or phrase out at a time and erasing as much as he wrote because it was never right. But he made some progress.
The fourth week he was desperate. He sat down each day and tried to write. Where in the past he had turned out several thousand words an hour, now he was lucky to make several hundred. At this rate, he would never finish before the 31st.
Maybe, if he had forced himself to write without the Muse from the moment it left… Maybe, if he had relied on himself for his story instead of the flighty Muse… Maybe then he would have had a chance to make the deadline.
As it was, he could only count the days and hope that the Muse would return…