Archive for the 'Muse' Category

Trying to Capture the Elusive Muse

In a dream, I swim through a beautiful ocean of words, until I meet a very old tortoise who whispers the perfect sentence in my ear. I can’t remember the sentence when I wake, but my hair is wet.
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

One of my greatest frustrations with my muse arises when she provides incomplete information. When inspiration strikes, I want to see the whole picture. To visualize the complete story, imagine exactly how the scene unfolds or clearly hear the voice of an important character. But the truth is that muses almost always provide only fragments. That’s actually the muse’s job. To offer a spark of inspiration. Then we must turn the spark into something more. So many of my best pieces of creative writing have arisen when I started with just a hint of an idea, a hazy image, a line of dialogue or a brief moment of action that I first told myself wasn’t worth pursuing. But when I push aside the voice that tells me “No,” and insist on following the flash of inspiration, I often find something lovely unfolding. Writers frequently talk about how their wonderful novels, memoirs, plays, screenplays and poems originated with such snippets. I find it really helps me to remember that when I’m annoyed at my Muse for only providing me with wet hair while leaving the perfect sentence balanced on the tip of my tongue.

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Who Is Your Muse?

I love this exercise, which I’ve posted here in the past. I like to go back to it occasionally and keep answering the question in my journal. And I’d love to hear from you: Who is your muse?

Here’s the challenge:

Write “My muse is…” and quickly finish the thought with the first thing that comes to your mind. Continue writing “My muse is…” and completing the sentence at least 15 or 20 times. Keep your pen moving. Don’t pause; don’t think too much about it; don’t censor yourself! Allow yourself to write things that are silly, stupid, profound, nonsensical … just keep going and see what you come up with. Most of all, have fun with this!

Then post your favorites in the comments below — I love it when you share your creativity!

Here are some of mine:

My muse is an anteater sniffing around to find the perfect anthill full of crunchy little creative ideas.

My muse is a banana peel waiting for someone to slip on it.

My muse is a ballerina with three legs, creating new dances that only she can dance.

My muse is a little girl with tights that won’t stay up and a pencil box full of stars.

My muse is a guitar made out of cardboard and rubber bands.

My muse is a crumpled piece of paper with the formula for happiness written on it in hieroglyphics.

My muse is a conversation between two people who don’t yet know their hearts have begun to intertwine.

My muse is a moonbeam grinning down at me from the dark night sky.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Push the Creativity Reset Button Every Day

I’m rerunning one of my most popular posts today (originally published August 16, 2012):

Has this ever happened to you? You’re determined to start writing or painting or pursuing another creative passion on a regular basis. So you sit down to treaty negotiations with your Muse, and the two of you draw up a plan: Your Muse agrees to visit you for half an hour before work every day to provide inspiration, and you agree to show up with paper and pen or paints.

The two of you sign and notarize the document, your Muse flits off to study the funky aardvark dance that’s sweeping Madagascar, and you give yourself a celebratory high-five in the mirror before going to bed feeling great.

Things work wonderfully for the first week. You set your alarm early, get up, and write or paint your heart out.

The next Sunday night, your cat has a hairball emergency requiring your middle-of-the-night supervision. Obviously, after all the midnight drama, you’re way too tired to get up the next morning and be creative. But that’s okay. You decide to write or paint for a full hour the next day.

On Monday night, however, after a late-night salami pizza with extra garlic and anchovies, you keep waking throughout the wee hours between disturbing dreams of monkeys juggling hamsters, and pigs in tuxedos giving speeches at state dinners.

Too exhausted to get up early Tuesday morning, you tell yourself you’ll just write or paint for an hour for the next TWO days. No problem. But the next morning, you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock. Really, can anyone be expected to get up at this ungodly hour? You see your Muse standing next to your bed, tapping her foot and looking put out, but you ignore her. For two mornings in a row.

The next day is Friday, and you really deserve a break – it’s been a tough week, what with all the hairballs and talking pigs. Not to mention the terrified hamsters. You’ll double down next week and catch up on all the creative time you missed.

Once Monday morning rolls around again, the amount of work you need to do to catch up seems so daunting that you bury your head under your pillow while your Muse screams into your ear. Finally, she gives up and flies away with a pout.

You’ve broken your Creativity Treaty. Your Muse is drowning her sorrows at the Muse Pub, and beginning to flirt with an artist who speaks in haiku while turning napkins into abstract art.

Meanwhile, you’re stuck under the covers. You wonder if you are even meant to be a writer/artist/musician. What were you thinking? You’re way too busy. The world seems set against you pursuing your creativity. You’re not really even a very good writer/artist/musician anyway.

This is when you need to push the Reset Button.

It’s time to text your Muse and ask her to come back and renegotiate. This time, include this clause in your treaty: “Every Day is a Restart.”

If you miss a day, you start fresh the next day. Do the already-planned 30 minutes that morning, not 15-and-a-half hours because you’re so far behind.

Because the thing is: You won’t do 15-and-a-half hours. And feeling that you should just adds creativity-killing pressure.

Creativity-killing pressure has been known to cause people to curl up into tense little balls while their Inner Critics hurl horrific insults at their tender insides. And creativity-killing pressure always frightens muses away.

But if you can treat every day as the first day of a new treaty, you lower the pressure on yourself and put a smile on your Muse’s face.

Muses love daily restarts. Because muses exist in the Now. Creativity exists in the Now. Every day is a fresh start. Every moment is a fresh moment.

So, hit the reset button, pick up your pen or brush, and start. Now.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

10 Ways to Woo Your Muse

metal sculpture

Rerunning one of my most popular posts:

  1. Do something you haven’t done since you were a child. Slide down a slide. Eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Play in a sprinkler. Sing a song you liked when you were a kid.
  2. Keep a notebook next to your bed, and write about whatever wakes you up.
  3. Take a little time to stop “doing” and just “be” for a while. Meditate. Walk. Stare at the wall. Soak in a bubble bath.
  4. Spend some time doing anything you consider fun, even if it seems frivolous. Especially if it seems frivolous.
  5. Go for a walk and look at everything in your path as if you’re seeing it for the first time.
  6. Enjoy some childlike creativity. Color. Dance. Play with Play-Doh.
  7. Pay attention to your dreams—both the night kind and the day kind.
  8. Rip up your To Do list for the day or for the afternoon or for half an hour and do whatever you feel like doing.
  9. Go outside at night and count the stars. Or waltz in the rain. Or share your secrets with the moon.
  10. Do something silly. Talk in a funny voice. Walk down the street backwards. See if you can balance a spoon on your nose.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Push the Creativity Reset Button Every Day

Has this ever happened to you? You’re determined to start writing or painting or pursuing another creative passion on a regular basis. So you sit down to treaty negotiations with your Muse, and the two of you draw up a plan: Your Muse agrees to visit you for half an hour before work every day to provide inspiration, and you agree to show up with paper and pen or paints.

The two of you sign and notarize the document, your Muse flits off to study the funky aardvark dance that’s sweeping Madagascar, and you give yourself a celebratory high-five in the mirror before going to bed feeling great.

Things work wonderfully for the first week. You set your alarm early, get up, and write or paint your heart out.

The next Sunday night, your cat has a hairball emergency requiring your middle-of-the-night supervision. Obviously, after all the midnight drama, you’re way too tired to get up the next morning and be creative. But that’s okay. You decide to write or paint for a full hour the next day.

On Monday night, however, after a late-night salami pizza with extra garlic and anchovies, you keep waking throughout the wee hours between disturbing dreams of monkeys juggling hamsters, and pigs in tuxedos giving speeches at state dinners.

Too exhausted to get up early Tuesday morning, you tell yourself you’ll just write or paint for an hour for the next TWO days. No problem. But the next morning, you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock. Really, can anyone be expected to get up at this ungodly hour? You see your Muse standing next to your bed, tapping her foot and looking put out, but you ignore her. For two mornings in a row.

The next day is Friday, and you really deserve a break – it’s been a tough week, what with all the hairballs and talking pigs. Not to mention the terrified hamsters. You’ll double down next week and catch up on all the creative time you missed.

Once Monday morning rolls around again, the amount of work you need to do to catch up seems so daunting that you bury your head under your pillow while your Muse screams into your ear. Finally, she gives up and flies away with a pout.

You’ve broken your Creativity Treaty. Your Muse is drowning her sorrows at the Muse Pub, and beginning to flirt with an artist who speaks in haiku while turning napkins into abstract art.

Meanwhile, you’re stuck under the covers. You wonder if you are even meant to be a writer/artist/musician. What were you thinking? You’re way too busy. The world seems set against you pursuing your creativity. You’re not really even a very good writer/artist/musician anyway.

This is when you need to push the Reset Button.

It’s time to text your Muse and ask her to come back and renegotiate. This time, include this clause in your treaty: “Every Day is a Restart.”

If you miss a day, you start fresh the next day. Do the already-planned 30 minutes that morning, not 15-and-a-half hours because you’re so far behind.

Because the thing is: You won’t do 15-and-a-half hours. And feeling that you should just adds creativity-killing pressure.

Creativity-killing pressure has been known to cause people to curl up into tense little balls while their Inner Critics hurl horrific insults at their tender insides. And creativity-killing pressure always frightens muses away.

But if you can treat every day as the first day of a new treaty, you lower the pressure on yourself and put a smile on your Muse’s face.

Muses love daily restarts. Because muses exist in the Now. Creativity exists in the Now. Every day is a fresh start. Every moment is a fresh moment.

So, hit the reset button, pick up your pen or brush, and start. Now.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Paddle Surfer Wisdom

Rerunning an old favorite today:

Last week on Kauai, my husband met a weathered paddle surfer who claims a he’e (octopus) helps him navigate the sometimes treacherous ocean waters.   I love stories like this. Whether you believe it literally or enjoy it as a colorful myth, the paddle surfer’s story also makes a wonderful metaphor.

paddle surfer

I’ve spent a lot of time here talking about my Muse.  But now I’m thinking about how the inspirational muse and the navigational octopus could work together in the creative process.

My Muse feels like an ethereal guest.  He’s pouty, he has ADHD and he owns a perpetually broken watch.  Though he drives me crazy, his dynamic personality and vivid tales color the room with brilliant imagery when he chooses to visit.

But do I have a creative he’e?  And if so, what purpose does she serve?

I imagine an ancient and wise creature living in the deep waters of my subconscious. Always there, silently watching.  Hers is the voice that bubbles up when I berate myself for not working on one of my unfinished novels.  That quietly whispers in my ear:  “No, Sandy.  You’re supposed to be writing about creativity now.”

octopus

My he’e knows which current flows smoothly in the direction I’m headed.  She nudges me away from the dangerous undertow that threatens to sweep me far from my center.  But this insightful octopus speaks softly, watching as I often do the exact opposite of what she’s suggested.

“The animals know things,” the paddle surfer told my husband.  “You just have to listen to them.”

I believe we all have a creative creature residing in our deep waters and steering us in the right direction. It’s the voice you hear in those small moments when you stop listening to all the other noise in your head. When you stop thinking and stop doing and allow yourself to simply be. And if you tap into the muse’s amazing bursts of inspiration while still hearing the quiet wisdom of the he’e, the two together might help you reach amazing creative heights.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

 

10 Types of Muses—Which One is Yours?

Rays of Light

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my muse. Or muses. I wrote about my muse a few years ago, but he/she has changed since then. (Even my muse’s gender changes regularly!) At that time, I needed a muse who was forceful and would get me out of bed to write early in the morning. Who was, as I wrote, “a cross between a take-no-prisoners drill sergeant and a thoroughly enticing lover.”

But my muse has changed over the years. More recently, my muse has segued into a whimsical child who tugs on my sleeve and whispers in my ear. (Or yells, if I’m not listening!) And sometimes she’s simply a light breeze that carries inspirational tidbits to me. But still, I occasionally call on my drill sergeant muse when I need a little creative kick in the butt.

So I started thinking about the different personalities of my muses over the years, and I came up with this list. For me, my muse is like a divine artistic guide crossed with an imaginary friend. But with a chameleon personality that becomes what I need.

Does your muse have one of these personalities? Or is s/he a cross between two or three of these? How would you describe your muse? I’d love to hear about him/her!

  1. A take-no-prisoners drill sergeant.
  2. A thoroughly enticing lover.
  3. A mischievous buddy.
  4. A loyal comrade-in-arms.
  5. A whimsical child who tugs on my sleeve.
  6. Whispers on a warm breeze.
  7. A hyperactive pest.
  8. A free-spirited wild woman.
  9. A temperamental diva.
  10. A grounded, wise old oak tree who speaks to me.

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And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)


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About Sandy Ackers

Sandy

Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

To learn more about Sandy, click here: About Sandy

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Click here to read the post discussing my relationship with my somewhat pesky male muse.

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