How Do You Get Your Muse On?
Today, I get to share with you one of my closely held secrets. I will share with you something that very few people may know about me—save for my closest of trusted brethren, those who have been privy enough to be regaled with my deepest of confidences. Until now, I have kept this deep, dark secret concealed in the depths of my heart—only allowing it to come out and spread its wings in the shroud of night. So here it is…that with which I will share with only my chosen ones. I am Greek Mythology geek.
Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. It’s been just eating away at my very soul. Okay, so perhaps my secret isn’t all that dark or mysterious, but it is a guilty pleasure that I’ve indulged in over the years; unbeknownst to very few. I believe it important—healthy even, to have something that we keep just for ourselves, that small aspect of our very being that we get to call our own. Oh, don’t worry that my closest held secret is now exposed to the world; I have other deep, dark, titillating secrets that will never see the light of day 😉
In keeping with my love of Greek mythology, I want to discuss the mystical goddesses in which we are believed to draw upon for our creative powers. We all draw creative inspiration from somewhere. Every time we put pen to paper, brush to canvas, string together lines of poetry, sway our bodies to an alluring beat, or act out a poignant scene in front of a camera; each of us taps into a source from which we are inspired to create. It’s believed (especially to us Greek mythology geeks), that our creative powers for the arts and sciences are drawn from the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.
These daughters, the Greek goddesses, are believed to represent the various arts and sciences in Greek mythology; they were referred to as “Muses”. A muse—when used as a noun; is referred to as a person (usually a woman), who serves as a source of inspiration. In Greek mythology, the nine goddesses each had specific attributes. Erato was the muse of love poetry, Euterpe was the muse of music and flute playing, Kalliope was the muse of beautiful voice and epic poetry, and Kleio was the muse of history. Melpomene was said to be the muse of both songstress and tragedy, while Ourania, was believed to be the muse of astrology and astronomy. Polymnia was a hymnist of sacred music, Terpsichore the muse of dance, and Thaleia was the muse of comedy. It is believed that by calling upon and receiving the blessings of the muses, a poet, dancer, musician—or any form of artist, can transcend the normal bounds of talent and rise to unimagined levels of creative insight (1). Sounds intriguing, right? However, as much as I do love a Greek myth…or tragedy, I don’t believe we have to solely rely upon the goddesses to aid us in creativity.
A muse can be anything that serves as an artist’s inspiration. This can range from a person, place or thing; the very definition of a noun. To tap into our creative genius, we often call upon a particular person of influence (without resorting to stalking), an object (some of which might be awkwardly weird), a place (could include dark hovels), or even a ritual (hopefully not involving children or animals). It may not be a magical formula or general antidote, but whatever the source, it serves to aid us in continuing our creative flow. I wish that I could say I often channel the Dali Lama or some other great spiritual influential person in which to use as my own muse, but my external sources are fairly tame and pedestrian. I regularly draw on several sources of inspiration when writing. Of course, it sometimes depends on my mood or other factors, but I’m usually fairly consistent. For my book characters, I typically draw on people I know—or have met, and build from there. So in this aspect, my ‘people’ muses often change. But the one thing that remains consistent for me during my writing is listening to either rock or rap music—as well as sometimes requiring complete silence/meditation.
Why rap or rock music? Who knows, but music helps me to get in the creative zone. I don’t know why, but it’s just something about the high energy and grittiness of it all that seems to appeal to my creative genius. At other times, I require complete silence in which to create. This typically happens when I’m having a hard time concentrating, or when my creative thoughts draw to a complete halt via writer’s block. Another consistent for me is the use of my favorite scented candles. I know–this might sound weird, but for some reason, the aromatic scent of my favorite candles helps to relax me; which in turn helps me to focus.
Whatever the source, having something that aids in your creative process is essential. But channeling our creative genius through a particular muse goes beyond a particular external source. I believe that creating rituals and habits also helps the creative energy flow. Sometimes, performing a particular routine prior to writing can be helpful; such as meditating, exercising, listening to music, reading something inspirational, writing down goals, or reciting affirmations. Creating peaceful spaces, setting strict work times and routines are important factors as well. These factors help you to feel connected—help you tap into your creative place, and ultimately help you to write effectively. Sometimes, we can get easily distracted from our writing, but I’ve found the following routines to be helpful in keeping me on track.
- When possible, work at the same time every day. It helps to establish a regular schedule in which you feel the pressure to adhere to. Not being disciplined in your craft can result in that book that you will have been working on for ten years.
- Work in a space where there is a minimal amount of noise and distraction. For me, it’s usually behind closed doors in my bedroom—which also serves as my office space.
- Light a fragrant candle or incense that helps to relax you—to perhaps tap into your spiritual side. The herb sage is often used to clear the air of negative energy.
- Ensure your comfort. I often wear leggings or yoga pants, and either a t-shirt or hoodie; it depends on the weather. I also wear either a pair of thick, fluffy socks or a pair of my Ugg boots (they’re like house slippers). A nice throw blanket (in the winter or summer because my house is always freezing), is also a standby for me.
- Have everything you need on-hand. This prevents you from getting distracted by having to constantly get up to retrieve things. Before I start writing, I ensure I have a bottle of water, my favorite coffee mug filled to the brim, a snack, my phone, an ink pen and notepad in case I have to jot down something crucial, and the remote—if you like to have the television on (I sometimes do for background noise).
It’s not a full proof system, but these constants serve as tools in which I use to aid in my own writing process. There is no wrong way in which to channel our creativity. Whatever your muse of choice, also establishing a regular routine/ritual can help you to stay focused—thus helping you to produce your very best work.
Do you have a muse? What routine or rituals help to get you into your writing zone? Do you have any strange or unorthodox practices that aid your creative process?
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- mythagora.com. Muses. Retrieved from: http://www.mythagora.com/bios/muses.html
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