The Page a Day Writers Group

Waiting for the Muse: Staying Motivated to Write

Posted on: October 19, 2010

I can come up with lots of reasons to not work on my fiction. There are deadlines for articles, baskets of laundry waiting, roasts that need defrosting. The hardest thing is to keep my butt in the chair, putting words on the page, delving into my characters and showing—not telling.

I realize this is part of being a writer. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen, trying not to be distracted, or feeling depleted of ideas. “You can fix anything but a blank page,” popular writer Nora Roberts says.

She discards the idea that writers must wait for inspiration to come to them mystically, as if from a muse. “Inspiration is crap,” she said during an interview at a Romance Writers of America conference. She told writing hopefuls to not waste their time waiting for a muse to help them move their fingers across the keyboard. Frankly, she said the muse is “a fickle bitch. Don’t depend on her.”

Well, I’m not necessarily waiting for a muse to pour compelling prose through my fingertips, but I am looking for suggestions on how to keep writing, especially when it seems like the last thing I’m able to do.

How do you keep at it? What tricks can you share with your fellow writers to keep us writing when we feel like we’re “carving in granite with a toothpick,” as Roberts suggests.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

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4 Responses to "Waiting for the Muse: Staying Motivated to Write"

She is right. If I had the link with me I would give it to you, but the ink phantom over on blogspot has “butt in chair” week which may help you. Good luck!

Thanks for sharing the struggles we all face, Claire. Wow, do I relate! I love writing exercise books for a little nudge. A cozy vacation in the land of someone else’s wonderful prose helps, too. Or a brisk walk, or weeding, to clear my head. But yes, the muse can be fickle. I guess that’s the trick- to keep writing even when it’s hard and the muse is playing hide-and-seek.

My most reliable trick to to go somewhere where I have no entertainment option except for writing–a coffee shop, library, parked in my car or camped out beneath a shade tree. Get away from the distractions and compelling to-dos that beckon at home. Soon, you’ll start looking forward to your “office” time and make the most of it.

I wonder how she would deal with noisy neighbours drowning out your thoughts. Only so much time can be spent in my local coffee shop before I begin to feel I really should but something else, which is not so good for my waistline. Honestly, I did have one once.

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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