Archive for the 'Muse' Category

Write. Rinse. Repeat.

Sometimes when life overwhelms me, I’ve just gotta drag my Muse into the shower to sneak in a creative moment.  I’ve crafted some of my best paragraphs while showering, repeating them over and over in my head as I rinse off.  Then dashing, dripping wet, to the closest piece of paper I can find and recording my words before I forget them.

I’ve also forced my Muse to tag along on my morning commute in the past.  One sultry morning years ago, I began writing in my head while jammed up against dozens of commuters.  My bangs started melting into my eyes from the humidity of the combined body heat in the subway car. I used my realization that I desperately needed a haircut to come up with a metaphor for this micro-story titled “Denial”.


A British publication paid me ₤10 for those two sentences!  Though I’m not always sure if that payment provided adequate compensation for the pitying looks I’ve gotten on occasion from people who read the tiny story.  It is fiction, really.

I’ve been thinking about these captured moments of creativity, and I decided to come up with a list.  Tiny bits of time we overworked, stressed-out writers (that’s all of us, right?!) could used to craft a few sentences in our heads.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • In the shower
  • While driving or riding a bus/subway/taxi
  • While washing/clearing dishes
  • While vacuuming or dusting
  • While folding laundry
  • During commercials (30-second creative bursts!)
  • While blowdrying your hair
  • While walking the dog
  • While grooming the dog/cat
  • While grooming yourself
  • While tweezing (this one depends on how much unwanted hair you have!)

If anyone has other ideas or has found unique moments in your life when you can write a sentence or two, please share them in the comments!

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

Memo to My Muse

Last Thursday morning, my Muse woke me a full two hours before I normally get up to make an announcement: “You WILL write this. NOW.”

morning sun

A couple of phrases floated through my mind, a barely formed thought. But as my Muse continued poking my shoulder while I swatted him away and tried to go back to sleep, more words kept popping into my head. The idea began to come together.

I rubbed my eyes and grabbed the notebook and pen I keep on my bedside table. I began to realize I was inside the head of one of my protagonists, feeling her angst over a failing relationship.

So I went to the living room and scribbled this:

I reach out for you, but find myself grabbing empty handfuls of air. Your words, which used to flow around me like the comforting water of a familiar brook, have become drips from a leaky faucet. I can’t decide whether to keep banging on the tap, trying to force it open, or to fix the leak and silence it forever. My desire to drink deeply straight from your lips never ceases. But for now, I can only hold my parched tongue under the faucet. I carefully catch each and every unsatisfying drop as it falls.

The poetic style of this piece differs from the lighter tone of the story my unhappy protagonist inhabits. So it won’t wind up as part of her written tale. But I understand her better because of writing this. And it became a nice little piece of its own, even making an appearance here at Six Sentences.


I recently discovered Six Sentences, dedicated to stories told in—you guessed it—six sentences. I’ve enjoyed reading the work there, diverse pieces with quality writing. I briefly considered trying to write something for them. Then I filed that thought in the back of my mind: behind work, this blog and wondering what’s on TV tonight. But I must have unintentionally sent a memo to my Muse. Because the piece he woke me to write turned out to be exactly six sentences.

What an amazing thing a Muse is! Or creative inspiration, or the subconscious mind or whatever you prefer to call it. I woke to write, almost fully formed, a piece that both fits into this 6-sentence structure and gives me insight into one of my characters!

My paltry role in the creative process consisted of actually getting up and taking dictation from my Muse. Not a small feat for a slight insomniac who loves to sleep in! Then I suffered through a sleepy day because of the early wake-up. A positive tradeoff: a little drowsy grumpiness for a moment of creative inspiration.

Now that I read my 6-sentence piece again, I realize it could be about me and my Muse and our sometimes fractured relationship.


Maybe my Muse was the one sending a memo to me…

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

My Muse Strangles Me

I have a confession to make.

My Muse is verbally abusive.

I’m not a victim, though, because I created him that way.  Yes, him.  If creative men throughout the years could become inspired by their vision of a beautiful, ethereal woman hovering over their shoulder as they wrote, painted, composed and otherwise created magnificent things, I don’t see why I can’t have a hot guy hovering over mine.  But I actually didn’t create my hot, verbally abusive Muse for the fantasy eye candy factor, anyway.  At the time I called him up, I was in desperate need of some male energy in my writing life.

This was more than a decade ago, as I floated through a period of writing dreamy, sensual, surreal fictional sequences that went on forever.  I can’t call them stories, because they never ended.  Lots of lengthy sentences.  Gorgeous descriptions bursting with colors and textures and fragrances.  I knew how to write.  I could write until the cows came home.  But I needed structure.  I needed closure.  I needed endings.


At the same time, I worked lengthy hours at an architecture firm, the only job I’ve ever had that had absolutely nothing to do with writing.  Maybe the fact that I spent a lot of time dealing with contractors—a testosterone-filled bunch if ever I’ve seen one—had some influence on my Muse as he appeared to me.

Desperate to make writing a bigger part of my life, I decided to start getting up at 5 AM to sneak in an hour or two of writing before work.

Did I mention I’m not a morning person?!

Waking at 5 AM when I was already exhausted by a full life and an unfulfilling job proved to be quite a challenge.  I needed a cross between a take-no-prisoners drill sergeant and a thoroughly enticing lover to pry me out of bed that early.

That’s when I called on my Muse.

Rays of Light

Make no mistake, I created him.  But he also came alive and participated in his own creation.  I don’t know how anyone else experiences a personal muse, but mine is like a divine artistic guide crossed with an imaginary friend.  At any rate, he came to me as I needed him then: seductive, and yes, verbally abusive.

Every morning when my alarm rang at 5 AM, my Muse began yelling in my ear: “Get the #@*% up, Sandy. Do you think your #@*%ing stories are going to write themselves?!?!!”

He wouldn’t let me roll over for five minutes; he yelled and yelled until I jumped up.  But once I sat in my favorite writing spot in the living room bay window with a cup of tea and a notebook in my lap, my Muse started purring sweetly in my ear, encouraging the words that flowed from my pen.

And thus began a lengthy and fertile creative period in my life, a time when my writing matured and I finally, happily, mastered endings.


It’s been a long time since those days, and my writing technique has continued to grow and evolve, but my Muse still hangs around.  I don’t get up at 5 AM any more, and he doesn’t yell at me any more either.  Instead we’ve settled into a comfortable relationship.  At times, he’s absent for months.  At other times I feel him hovering over my shoulder when I write, and now and then he even shows up in my dreams.

But though he’s still present, my Muse lives primarily above the garage in the back of my mind these days, and I’m realizing now as I consider my desire for sustained creativity in my life that it’s time to allow him a bigger role again.  A reinvented role, because I don’t need the drill sergeant now as much as I need the lover.

Okay, maybe I still need a little drill sergeant for those days when I just don’t feel like being creative and I want to hide behind my work and other responsibilities and whine about how I have no time for my soul-writing.  But I don’t think I need the yelling any more.

I’m almost sure I don’t need the yelling any more…

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

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About Sandy Ackers


Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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