By Diana M. Raab, PhD.
The term muse comes from the original Muses who were the nine daughters of the Greek God, Zeus. In today’s world, a muse may be thought of as a source of inspiration for a writer and can be a person, situation or even a fantasy.
In Ray Bradbury’s book, The Zen of Writing, he says this about muses:
[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ] “What is The Subconscious to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse.” Bradbury believes that they are two names for the same thing.[/box]
People and situations can nourish the subconscious, in fact, some people tap so favorably into their subconscious that they provide us with ongoing writing inspiration. Those are usually individuals who exude positive, creative, and nourishing energy. You can recognize them easily because they are good conversationalists. They also tend to be good people to brainstorm with about your writing projects or goings on.
Here are 6 ways to nourish your muse:
1) Read and write poetry. Poetry tends to flex your creative muscles, the ones we sometimes do not use enough. Also, good poetry avails itself by accessing the five senses. When using your senses in your writing, you more easily bring the reader into your world. Reading poetry should become a daily ritual, like taking a vitamin.
2) Read writers whose style you admire and want to emulate. Many of us do this intuitively. If you are writing a memoir, you should read many memoirs. If you are writing a novel, then read many novels. You can also copy another author’s words into your journal as a way to subconsciously emulate or absorb their writing style and syntax.
3) Practice the art of people watching by being in public places, such as sitting in cafes, restaurants or coffee shops. If you observe people regularly, you will learn to understand them and more accurately depict them in your writing as a consequence. While you are at it, eavesdrop on conversations to get a sense of natural conversational flow and rhythm. French novelist Honore de Balzac was known for sitting in Parisian cafes for hours on end, writing and watching people. That is how he was able to write his compelling le Comedie Humaine, an 80-volume collection that describes every possible human condition, emotion, and relationship.
4) Try writing in different places. Get out of your writing studio or away from your desk. Write in a park. Write in a coffee shop. Write at a bus stop. Write in an airplane.
5) Always carry writing tools—a journal and a pen. You should always be ready for the muse to visit. In his book, The Muses Among Us, Kim Stafford writes, “Every shirt must have a pocket and every pocket a notebook and a pen.” You need to be prepared for when your muse arrives, because he or she rarely gives warning.
6) Listen to music or choose your favorite art for your writing studio walls. These can set the mood for your writing and inspire thought and creativity.
Remember that reading prose and poetry, watching people and surrounding yourself with creativity and the scenes of everyday life are important to nourish creativity. The world is a garden of nourishment for your muse. If you are open, listening and eager to take it all in and make it your own, then your writing will reap the benefits.
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