Sunday, 25 January 2009

What To Do When The Muse Vacates the Premises

After reading a post on a friend's Blog, about being in a funk with writing, I thought I'd try to find out what happens to a writer when they can't seem to write any more.

With me, it's when a lack of confidence kicks in and I think that everything I write is totally and utterly rubbish. It does happen, and I don't know why. Usually, it's when I've finished something, that at the time of writing seemed so GREAT! when I go back to it, the doubts start to creep in. Then (as happens with me) it's that time before sleep when all my insecurities kick in and the muse laughs at me, that raucous, mocking laugh, as though to say, "You thought I was feeding you witty dialogue, brilliant description? Well think again you sad witch!"

It's always worse at night, in bed. Then I'll get up, go back to my piece and think, hey, so what? I like it, so there's a chance somebody else will, too.

I tend to just write any old thing when the muse is having one of her off days. I write and write and write. Even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, it's still writing, getting over that hurdle, that invisible force that's trying its best to thwart you. It can't do you any harm if you write, can it?

I agree with my friend, who said the winter months have a lot to answer for. I definitely feel better during spring and summer. I keep threatening to get one of those lamps to boost my ailing brain cells. Anyway, the trick, is, I feel, to fight it. Fight the nasty, sarcastic muse. Let her know who's boss! Remember, this feeling won't last for ever. Not if you keep at it.

Don't give in to those negative feelings that creep up, because if you're anything like me, once you become prolific again, you can't remember what it was like not to.

If this sounds like my writing is a dangerous and psychologically damaging exercise, think again. I absolutely love it, warts and all.

I'd be interested to know how others beat the writerly blues.


  1. I hate when I think I've written something great - only to read it later and find that it was all rubbish. But (as I think Della Galton said in her wonderful book on writing short stories) as long as there's something on paper then you've got something to work with.

    I think you're right, a positive attitude can help. You can't allow yourself to be ruled by negative feelings.

  2. I agree, Suzanne, just making the effort to write, evn though you might not feel like it for one reason or another,is half the battle.

  3. Happy New Year Higgs!

    I read this with interest as I'm struggling with my writing at the moment - or my poetry I should say. I haven't written a poem for about 8 months now, and although time is a big factor, the muse definitely isn't here.

    It's now become something a little frightening, the blank page, and my poetry.

    I am doing my travel writing, the prose too heavily poetic at times - and I'm reading voraciously - but I know these are distractions from what I want to be doing.

    I think it's a waiting game. I don't think you can force the muse... but I'm going to start reading and posting poetry on my site and try and give him/her/it a kick-start.


  4. Sorry to hear your muse has deserted you, Tam. I'm sure it's only temporary. But yes, don't force it, but try some gentle writing exercises.

    It really is annoying, but sometimes when you've got a lot of other stuff going on, it's 'harder' to wite what you want to, somehow. X

  5. Just to add, I think fighting the muse works for me, most of the time. Having said that, it sometimes helps me just to have a few days 'off' regarding anything to do with writing. I still tend to 'think' writerly thoughts though, but it's a kind of setting up and storing for future scribbles. I know it doesn't work for everyone though.


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