Sunday, February 17, 2008

University Day: Muse Training Tips

Need help taming the Muse? We read Valerie Parv's Muse Obedience School and then came up with our own commands.

Judy Huston
Roll Over

When your muse has mastered the basic training requirements, you may like to move on to some simple tricks that can benefit both of you. ‘Roll over’ is one that can go a long way towards overcoming the challenge of the dreaded writer’s block.

No matter how engrossing a particular work may be, there will be times when your muse becomes a little restless or even bored with the work she is doing and, eventually, refuses point blank to keep going.

In preparation for such a stoppage, have another work on the go or in the planning stage. When your muse makes it clear that she has had enough of the current work for now, encourage her gently to turn to the other project.

Enjoying distractions and always curious, your muse will be pleased to leave the familiar task to investigate something new and different. This works much better than pressuring her to continue and, you will find, brings her back refreshed and willing to refocus on the first task. By making the trick an enjoyable exercise, you’ll soon find your muse will roll happily from one work to the other on command, helping you to make progress on both in the process.

Walking to Heel

Muses love to go off (goof off?) on side tracks. If your muse tries to coax you down a different path, don’t let yourself be tempted. No matter how pleadingly your muse gazes at you with soulful eyes, no matter how strongly she tugs you towards the byway, be firm. Let her know that you appreciate her suggestion, note down its details quickly and assure her you and she will return to explore it when the time is right, but for now you have an agenda that must be followed. Remember, that detour will still be there when you have completed the work you promised yourself you would do. If you follow your mischievous muse down the other road now, however, you may find it actually leads nowhere constructive and you will have deprived yourself of time and focus for the work you need to finish.

Sherry (Shara) Jones
1. Miss Muse – Come. Sit here by me. Have you lost weight? This is non-caloric chocolate. All the taste, no calories. Promise. We have a few eensy little chapters to write – no pressure. Really.
2. Here is your feather boa. You rook mahvelous. No. Really.
3. Here is your tiara. Only the best the dollar store has to offer.
4. Music. You know how you love music. Yessssss. Just close your eyes…
5. Now…you may begin… Wait! Where are you going??
6. Oh. I forgot the “visual” portion. Yes, he is something to look at….I’ll just tape his picture by the monitor. No, I can’t airbrush away his clothes….

Susan Atwood
When training your muse, you must realize that her schedule is not always your schedule. And while it is inconvenient to be woken up at 2 a.m. with pages and pages flowing through your mind like a river, sometimes that is when the muse is most active. While a tape recorder or notepad is helpful, on those occasions when she just won’t stop yakking, it is really best to just get out of bed, fire up the computer and have at it. You will return to bed in a much better frame of mind and will find that the hours of sleep that you have left will be extraordinarily restful.

Robin Bayne
Pray for muse. Ask for guidance on where it should take you.
Exercise muse—take a walk, outdoors or on the treadmill.
Caffeinate muse—entice muse with hot fresh coffee. (you may want to do this step prior to exercising muse for best results)
Reward muse—after writing, enjoy your favorite comfort read.

Josh Lockwood
SPEAK – This command is normally given in the wee small hours of the morning, after the muse has wakened you from a sound sleep, and you just want to get the dictation over with. I don’t have this particular problem with Blabbermouth ... she just never shuts up.

PAUSE – This command is for when she’s talking faster than you can type.

REPEAT – And this is for when you’ve typed everything you can remember and want her to go over it again so you don’t leave anything out. Blabbermouth gets very upset when I leave stuff out.

Laura Hamby
1. The Right/Write Now Command: You're on a deadline and your muse has taken off for parts unknown? Try this Right/Write Now Command. Lay in a supply of "Muse Bribery" Treats, play some mood music and see if you can't entice her to come home. Given the fickleness of some muses, this may or may not work. If it doesn't work, chances are you got the wrong Muse Bribery Treats.

2. The Let Me Sleep Command: Keep a notepad and pen by your bed for jotting down the ideas your Muse throws at you while you're trying to go to sleep. Write down all the ideas she gives you, promise you'll get right on it after you'd gotten some sleep and are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to do these wonderful, magnificent ideas justice.

3. Nice Muse Command: Never fail to let your muse know you appreciate her and love her. Don't forget to tell her what a nice muse she is, what a good muse she is and reward her for a job well done when the WIP is finished.

Judy Jarvie
Your muse may lead you to develop a hygiene fixation – the best ideas often come in the shower. Your hair will never have been quite as clean when you’re in the middle of the black moment. And beware of allowing the pearls of your wisdom to vanish down the plughole – keep a pad and pen nearby.

Muses get most vocal during long energetic walks. So dig out those all terrain boots and take her for a power hike across rough terrain. That’ll teach her to make you dig so deep! And think of the calories you’ll be burning as you go. Win win.

Gina Hartoog
The Brace Command – Sit forward at computer with arms over head.
This command is useful for an onslaught by the muse – too much too soon. Equally useful when the muse takes a vacation!
The Hold Command – Put your muse on hold while you carefully maneuver your vehicle off the road. Muses have a dreadful habit of showing up while you are driving at top speed on the highway - without a pen or paper insight or the ability to use either.

MG Braden
1. Sometimes the Muse needs a vacation – if she isn’t there and you can’t find her, no matter how hard you try, think about how hard you’ve been working her. Do you need to give her a break? Everyone creative (or not) needs some time off.
2. Sometimes the Muse will do what she wants and you must follow her – if she’s going in a direction you never wanted or planned sometimes it is good to just go with it. Sometimes you write brilliant stuff. Sometimes it’s crap. But, you never know if you don’t let her go with the flow.

Denise Patrick
The "Play Dead" command: This is when you need your Muse to STOP talking for a little while so you can finish the ideas she's given you before. Sometimes the Muse has to be convinced that it's okay to relax and do nothing. She needs similar rewards as if she's done a hard day's work - because sometimes it's hard to do nothing.

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