Tricking the Muse

Up until recently, I’ve really been struggling with my writing. I’ve been concentrating on my “Self-Publish or Die” five-year writing plan and the business side of things, and haven’t been working too hard on the actual writing side. Which is stupid really, since I can’t publish if I don’t write.

My brain has been ticking over with plot-based thoughts, doing random character surveys, and working on settings – all in my subconscious mind, yes, and it is technically working. I’m just struggling getting words on the page.

Anyway, I hit upon a way to take the plot forward on one of my WIPs the other day, and I now have a clean, stream-lined plot-plan that I am taking no notice of whatsoever. Hey, it’s there so at least I can’t get too far off track.

Part of my problem has been prioritising other things over my writing. One of the first lines in my new “Self-publish or Die” writing plan is “My writing time takes precedence, unless someone in my immediate family is dead or dying. And even then, the funeral will be at my convenience”. I haven’t really written that last line down, but you get the point.

After wrestling with my Muse and my schedule for the better part of a month, I finally sat myself down and just made myself write. Which was the most painful thing I have ever done. I’ve broken bones and dislocated joints and even they weren’t as painful. But I did it. I managed to squeeze out 200 words on last year’s Nano novel in just under 3 hours. Just for something to do.

And while I was forcing my fingers to type out those 200 words, a funny thing happened. My Muse thought it would be amusing to sabotage my forced creativity – by thinking about the WIP I actually wanted to work on.

I continued on with my fingers’ forced march across the keyboard, all the while not acknowledging that I could hear my Muse snickering in the background. Oh she thought she was funny, trying to distract me, but I forged on, determined not to let her get the better of me.

Until she gave me something I couldn’t ignore. She gave me the answer to a plot hole the size of China – for the WIP I wanted to work on. My fingers stopped typing and my Muse cackled with laughter. She laughed so hard until I smiled and said “Thanks. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been hiding.”

I opened a shiny new word document and re-wrote an entire chapter from off the top of my head, slipping in the subtle changes my Muse was pestering me with earlier. I wrote an entirely new beginning for that WIP, in the tone I had been desperately trying to portray, and I even wrote a whole new chapter that took the plot in a completely different, yet exciting, direction I never dreamed it could go.

Moral of the story – my Muse is a trickster, and if I ignore her, she does wonderful things without even trying.
What about you? How do you trick your muse?

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