Have You Cradled Your Muse Today?
Writers never have a day off. Between promotion and revisions and tackling new projects, there isn't really a free moment. Keep in mind, I'm not complaining here. I have my moments where I try to unwind.
I take a day off occasionally. I spend time with my fiancé. I watch a movie now and then. I will watch one of my favorite shows, like Bones, The Mentalist or Castle...even this new show I just started, Elementary.
But, the writer's mind is always working. The creative brain needs fuel to live.
Instead of food like the body needs, it thrives on experiences, environment and, most definitely, conversation. Our experiences make us who we are, of course. Without them, we would be different. They also shape our characters because we can draw from those experiences, sometimes without even realizing it. Where you write or where you go can make an impact as well. And don't even get me started on dialogue or at least eavesdropping on people's conversations, on the inflections in someone's tone or how people actually talk to each other in real life. You can also people watch, which I have been guilty of occasionally.
I still recall once incident so clearly. I had to go through physical therapy once and as I was walking out of the building and going to the car, there was a couple just holding each other. The man ignored the fact that I was watching. I tried not to, but what can a writer do?
So, why was I so drawn to these people? Because I couldn't hear them. I couldn't tell what they said or what they were going through. I just knew it was very significant in their lives. As a writer, you make up your own story when you don't know. I couldn't tell if it was a goodbye hug or a GOODBYE hug. I just know I'll never forget the clear emotion on that man's face. He truly loved the woman he held. And doesn't that make a romantic's heart melt a little?
Well, anyway, where was I? Oh, yes.
I am a firm believer in the fact that as writers, we store a lot of information derived from books, movies, our lives, even people we've met. We stew on it for awhile and then spit it back out in a jumble. Why a jumble, you might ask. I simply cannot be the only writer in the universe with a million ideas in her head.
Maybe one day, your hero is a cowboy who meets a lawyer from the city. The next day, a witch is talking to you. Where did she come from? She has nothing to do with the original story idea, unless you want to figure out a way to merge them together. That's not easy at all. So, why bother? They're separate ideas. Treat them that way. There's no reason to make Miss Stuffy lawyer from the city a witch. Unless that's where you're going with it, of course.
I stumbled across a question on Facebook today. A writer asked, "How do you know which story you should work on?" Well, you don't. In most cases, you just work on the one that drives you most, the one that your heart can't ignore. A wise writer commented in that post, "Pay attention to the one that won't shut up!"
That is funny. It is also very true. For my fans who aren't writers, there are characters that won't stay quiet. And they will want to run the show. We fight this as writers. Hey, who's holding the reins here? Me! I'm the writer. Well, that may be correct. But, a lot of the time, those characters have something to say. And to ignore it would be idiocy. That character may hold a missing piece to the puzzle you were looking for. Maybe you've heard writers talk about how the story wrote itself. Sometimes the muse grabs you by the shoulders, shakes you and shoves your nose into a page or a screen. Sometimes the story must be told and the only way to get peace is to let the lion roam free for awhile.
In revision, we can exercise some control. We can look at things from a different perspective and decide if we want to change anything.
During the creative process, however, the muse is precious. Who knows how long that period of writing will last? We should probably respect that. I know I will. :)