As writers, we will all experience times when our creative energies seem to leave us; we spend our mornings staring at blank pages, or worse still, for months nothing seems to inspire us to commit our thoughts to the page. At such times we are left believing that we are without the Muse. But, do we need the muse to write well or to even write at all?
For a number of months this year, I seemed to be without inspiration to write. I told my writer and author friends about it and they made various suggestions from taking a course, walking in the the country, going on holiday or even falling in love. As I struggled with my seeming barrenness, I came across a poem in a notebook that challenged me to reconsider my dependence on the Muse. I had written it in a ten minute slot at a summer school at Millers Yard, an exciting Alternative Living Centre in the city of York. Having decided to use the Creative Writing class as the centre for my piece, I approached the event with trepidation….what if I couldn’t write on tap? I thought to myself. Lizzie Linklater the instructor was inspiring and encouraging as she hurled people into the art of creative writing with nothing more than a brief introduction and an “Okay, you have ten minutes to write a story on ‘My Memory of London’. Amazingly, I did not stare at the paper for a moment! Off I went and in ten minutes had my story written…of course, it was a first draft, but a story nonetheless.
That Saturday afternoon, I learned that if the Muse was not around, I should not wait for inspiration, but rather, create inspiration for myself. Now I actively look for ideas in the exciting and different, and yes, even the ordinary and mundane that goes on around me every day.
I have come to see for me at least, that the Muse is as much about me throwing excuses to the wind and beginning to engage with whatever is to hand.