Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

A Brief Visit From The Muse

“Well, first: There ain’t no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time. It’s not effortless. If only.”

So many of us romance writers have this quote, or one like it, by romance novelist Nora Roberts, pinned to our bulletin boards. Because it reminds us that on most days, writing isn’t as much about creativity as it is about discipline. It’s about getting your butt in the chair, whether you feel like it or not, and writing your book. And hopefully, after a few minutes of butt-in-chair, you find the story and the words and you get some good pages written. Or, at least, as Nora puts it, you “vomit out the first draft.”

But for me, every once in a while, the muse shows up. And when it does, it’s amazing! And it happened just the other morning.

I need to write a proposal for my next books and I’ve been unable to work on it. Partly because the limited time I have to work has been taken up promoting my newly released second book. But mostly it’s because I’ve been tired. Napping while my son is at kindergarten tired. Going to bed at nine o’clock tired. Sleeping through my usual early morning ‘get-up-and-write’ alarm tired.

My doctor said I was exhausted. A spring and summer trying to meet deadlines and be a full-time mom had done me in. She told me to rest, to take vitamin D, and to find a way to balance my life better. I’ve been trying, but I’ve worried that I’m so tired, I won’t ever be able to write my book proposal.

And then I popped awake on Friday morning with ideas flooding my mind. I walked the dog with words singing through my veins. And I sat down to plot not just the three books I’d been thinking about for months, but a fourth one that sprang up, shiny and new and fully formed, right before my eyes. It was clear that I was enjoying a visit from The Muse, that mysterious force of creativity that seems to zap me out of nowhere, wake up my imagination, and get me writing again. And I loved having her around!

It was a quick visit – she’s gone now. It’s back to butt in chair, vomit out the words. But at least I’m awake, fingers on keyboard, words on page. And hopefully, very soon, I’ll have some coherent story ideas written up for my editor, so I can finally hit “send” on my proposal.

So I would argue, respectfully, with Nora, that occasionally there is a muse. And when she shows up, take really good notes, because she doesn’t stick around long, and you have no idea when she might pass your way again!

2 thoughts on “A Brief Visit From The Muse

  1. Alexandra Florimonte

    i love what you have to say about writing. I’ve never had the ability to do what you do and I think you write of the process so eloquently

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