Tricking the Muse – How to beat Writer’s Block

http://scrawlingmuse.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/muses.jpg

So school has been cancelled for three days in a row now. I keep telling myself I’ve been productive in my writing during this time. And do some degree I have. I’ve updated the blog more frequently and I’ve been editing a previous manuscript – clarifying inconsistencies and trying to cut out the fluff. And I’ve truly been doing that. A lot. Honest!

But I know the truth. I know why I’ve been so focused on editing. It’s because another manuscript is only about four or five chapters from completion. And I’m stuck. I know how it ends, but the words won’t come. Cue dramatic music:

I have writer’s block.

Fortunately, I also have a few tricks up my sleeve to cure it. The first I’ve already done: focus on another project for a while. Did it work? Nope.

So today I moved on to my second trick. Yoga and meditation. Not only did I do my own yoga routine today but I tested a yoga-for-pregnancy video for my sister (just to be clear, I did the pregnancy yoga routine to see if I thought my sister would like it – because SHE is pregnant, not me). But alas, that didn’t work either.

So tomorrow morning I’ll try a variation of my second trick. I’m actually going to go to the gym and work up a serious sweat. I might also take the dog for a long walk downtown. It’s our favorite place to hang. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to resort to tricking my muse*.

What’s a muse and how does one trick it?

The modern idea of a muse is anything or anyone that inspires someone else. But historically, it’s pretty interesting. The Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne in Greek mythology. They were the personification of the arts, especially literature. There are some other interesting variations of the myth, but that’s enough for this post.

I need to trick my muse. And fast.

So I’m going to start simply by asking questions. I’ll write down the first five to ten answers that pop in my head. The more outlandish they are, the more I tend to like them as long as they’re consistent with my story. And I’ll keep doing this until I get the creative juices flowing again. Or until my muse returns, whichever occurs first.

Let’s take my current WIP. My young here has to discover the location of a key. I know where the key is. And I know how it’s going to be presented to my young hero. But I need my hero to discover it on his own and I need him to do it in a way that’s organic to my story. This is where I’m getting stuck. How will Oliver realize who has the key so he can ask for it? (The person who has it doesn’t realize it’s a key, you see, because it doesn’t look like an ordinary key. It’s special, of course.)

So here we go. How will Oliver realize who has the key?

1. Oliver see it glowing in the place it’s hidden.

2. Oliver realizes it’s magnetic and tests magnetic properties near the place it’s hidden.

3. Perhaps the one who has the key suspects they have something that will help Oliver, not knowing it’s the key. But hey, they’re helpful like that.

4. Or perhaps they were given the key by it’s maker and told to protect it until Oliver needed it.

5. I could give the person who has the key another, less important object, that Oliver will have to ask for and he can discover the hidden key then.

Personally, I like number four. Given the steampunk-ish elements in my story, I could easily make it so that the one holding the key would only reveal it in the event that Oliver began working on a specific machine, or revealed the blueprint he’s already holding in the story (the one that’s confirmed for him that he really does need this key).

This is official proof that my brain will do anything to keep me from going to the gym. It’ll even tap into my muse. Gotta run y’all. Oliver’s got a key to find!

*The original post I read regarding how to trick one’s muse can be found here.

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