Writing into Stupidity

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Inspiration is all around us. Like this icicle that looks like a hand. Or carrots . . .

“The artist goes through states of fullness and emptiness, and that is all there is to the mystery of art.” – Pablo Picasso

Writers like to call upon muses to guide us through tricky plots and help us wrap our pen around poems which float evanescently through our minds. We like our writing to feel like it comes from some external source. Nothing’s more fun than feeling like we’re simply the funnel who captures words on the page.

But common knowledge is, if you want to make a buck at the whole writing game, you haven’t got time to wait around your muse. There’s writing that needs to get done right NOW and the best way to get that writing done parking your butt in your chair and starting in, well, writing. Muse or no muse.

To be honest, I find the muse concept kind of flighty and impractical. (It’s stuff like that that gives us writers our starving artists’ reputation.) But I’m enough of a dreamer to find the “butt parking” mandate a little harsh. I mean, it kind of takes all the supposed romance right out of this writing life.

So I spend my writing life in between those two mentalities. I have to use the latter advice because I think my muse’s kind of beach bum. She spends most of her days sunbathing in her bikini and sipping pina coladas. She can’t be bothered with the whole inspiration thing too often.

I write nearly every day, but rarely in a “omigod I think I was just struck by lightning bolt” manner. And so the deadlines are met and fiction projects move forward. I try not to worry when the inspiration just isn’t there, like . . . last week.

Last week was one of the scheduling nightmare weeks which involved running all over creation. While I was getting interviews and plenty of other “pre-writing” activities done, I certainly wasn’t generating much of a word count last. Whenever I sat down to get a little writing work done, it felt like each sentence was a gigantic beach ball I could barely wrap my arms around, let alone manage to somehow shove it into my laptop and coax to nicely sit still in a Word document. Ugh!

But some weeks days of the writing life are like that. That’s when I remember one of the helpful things I heard in the writing class I took last fall. When describing his typical writing day, the instructor said: “I write until I get stupid.”

When the words really aren’t coming one little bit, it’s time for a mug of hot cocoa, a shower, a good book, or a stroll outside. The muse seems to respond well to a wee bit of pampering.


  1. Ha, I like that! I get stupid pretty quickly. lol I've always heard that sitting down every day, even if nothing brilliant happens helps keep writer's block away. I do enjoy a good muse though. lol

  2. Pretty much everything that I write lately is stupid. I've sold out to mommy blogging. ARGH! I just realized that I have a whole bunch of Of Woods and Words posts to catch up on and that makes me feel better :)

  3. Park the muse in the chair and go to the beach...don't forget the pina colada. You need pampering too ;-))))


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