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Why Is My Muse Hiding in the Shower?


Ah, that elusive muse. It's the writer's blessing and curse. It can be the source of wildly exciting inspiration or it can be the bane of our existence when the ideas stop flowing. So how do we learn to work with this fickle part of the writing process?


Well, first there is the "butt in chair" philosophy, which means even if your muse is on a bender to the Bahamas, you still sit in front of your computer and write. The idea is that eventually the inspiration will return. This is an important method to consider because once you have a contract and are on a deadline, you won't have the luxury of taking a few weeks/months off to let your muse return to you.

However, forcing the creative process sometimes shuts your mind down even further because you're using the logical part of your brain ("I need to get this down because x, y, z."), which can choke the free-flowing creative side.

So how do we free up that creative side?

Well, different things work for different people, but the goal is to get your mind into a relaxed state where the logical part can rest and the other side can take over.  For instance, I was watching an interview on The View with Aaron Sorkin. He was talking about writing the movie The Social Network (saw it yesterday, btw. FAB-U-LOUS. Seriously. Go see it.) But anyway, he said when he was writing it, he was taking like six showers a day. The ladies of The View looked at him like he was crazy, but I was like--Oh, I so get that.

He said the reason he was taking so many showers was because that's when the scenes would come to him. So when he got stuck, he'd either get back in the shower or would go for a long drive.

And those are two of my favorite places for inspiration too. Anywhere my mind zones out and goes on autopilot--the shower, a monotonous car ride, lying in bed at night before I go to sleep, listening to music. When I'm stuck, those are the times that the words finally come.

So, if you're doing BIC (butt-in-chair) but it's just not working. Get up, go for a long walk, a drive, or hell, jump in the shower like Aaron Sorkin. Give yourself permission to relax your mind so that you can hear the muse when he/she whispers to you.

So I'm curious, when does the inspiration usually hit you? What are some activities you do to let the creativity flow? Are you a believer of butt-in chair?

**Today's Theme Song**
"You're the Inspiration" - Chicago
(player in sidebar, take a listen)


Reader Comments (36)

Yes, yes, YES! My muse always comes to me in the shower. The perv. ;) This is how I know my muse is male.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJami Gold

BIC for me. When I hit the proverbial brick wall I do a workout. Nothing inspires me more - to keep those creative juices flowing - than the threat of having to get up and sweat my butt off.


October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMurphy

I love late night drives. Usually the darkness mixed with the AC really cold and some new unheard of band often turns out to be inspiring (and I always pocket my voice recorder). The shower sometimes works for me but getting in and out to write ideas in a spiral notebook tends to be bothersome.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShainer

BIC works for me too....

I also find my writing mojo too whenever I'm upset...I dont know why.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNutty J.

I seem to wake up at early hours of the morning-- 4, 5, 6-- with a very clear head and able to think through problems in scenes. In fact, bed is where I have solved my most troublesome scene issues. Luckily I'm learning to do that at night before falling asleep too.

Also long commutes into the office are also helpful.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSierra Godfrey

I have many techniques, BIC is one and blogging has really disciplined me to be creative when I least feel like it. Another good one that no one has mentioned is to have a Pow Wow with your critique group and problem solve.
Nancy" rel="nofollow">N. R. Williams, fantasy author

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterN. R. Williams

I definitely force myself to sit with ideas. It's uncomfortable and scary, but things eventually begin to gel.

As for inspirational moments, I have great thoughts while brushing my teeth!

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline Starr Rose

Definitely the shower, and also waiting rooms at doctor's offices, and walking. Walking to the library, and then walking home again keeps the ideas flowing splendidly!

But I don't generally have muse problems. Daily writing and habitual writing really took care of that for me!

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmalia T.

Seriously, ask Tiffany how many showers I was taking when I was working on my last manuscript. My skin was getting so dry it bled in some spots. It was quite ridiculous, but always worked. My muse is a water nymph, apparently.

I'm rewriting my first manuscript right now, so our water bill is about to sky rocket--hubby will NOT be impressed ;)...

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

I am so a shower person!!! But, if I don't feel up for the fourth shower of the day or my husband gives me the "you-are-wasting-water" look, I go for a swim, go to the gym, Starbucks, or for a drive. I think anywhere or anything you can do to get your mind on autopilot is what you need to tap into that creative muse in your brain. Also, Caffeine doesn't hurt ;)

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicole L Rivera

Inspiration always hits me at the least convenient times. The shower/walk sounds brilliant, in that case. :)

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOddyoddyo13

music and runs do it for me :) Also when I attempt to sleep *grrr* which can be tiring!

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicole MacDonald

i do BIC all the way and it is painful, some days I feel as if my brain is going to burst from pressure. A shower sounds harmless I might give it a try

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna St. James

My muse tends to hide somewhere between the keyboard and the nearest pad of paper.

I on rare occasions manage to trap the little blighter by going on long walks, with headphones on. Or by staying up so late he thinks I've already gone to bed. I sit at the chair until he shows up, nab him, and actually get something done.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDrackar

Occasionally I come up with a great idea when I'm doing something completely away from my desk. BUT, I am firm believer in butt in chair. Sit down, write.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

My muse hangs out in the shower too. (Which is kind of creepy when you think about it)
Sometimes he/she shows up when I'm walking on the treadmill or RIGHT BEFORE I fall asleep at night too. LOL

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Shirk

My muse seems to talk to me while I'm in traffic. Usually on the interstate during the scary parts of rush hour. I have a purse full of bits of paper with scribbled done with my non-dominant hand, without looking. VERY helpful.

Oh! That reminds me of something I read about stirring the creativity cauldron...try writing with your non-dominant hand. Heck, sometimes just writing with my regular old (left)hand works for me, since most of my writing is on the 'puter, and having to slow down with pen and paper changes the way my synapses fire.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTeri Anne Stanley

OMG, Jami, Murphy and I were just talk about this! Here, this is what you need, ;op

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Bell

Love the title ^.^

I hate it when I get ideas in the shower because I don't have a pen and paper nearby.

I get most of my ideas when I'm almost asleep...which is why I keep a notebook by my bed.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTessa Quin

If my muse isn't anywhere to be seen, I can't BIC. It's anti-productive because I'll end up blogging or surfing the internet or following something shiny. No progress.

The best call to my muse I can make is to veg out. Anything like lying in bed, watching tv, even staring at the wall. I think my muse is an Alpha who can't stand me doing nothing at all, even if I really need the rest :)

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela M.

Driving for SURE! which is dangerous, but sometimes it's the bath, which is longer and I don't have to dry my hair, and MUSIC!! My muse is a JERK LOL

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBekah

I've taken up to three showers a day while cranking along on a novel. I've also learned to keep a notepad by the bed for those middle-of-the-night ideas.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Marie Miles

Putting my kids to sleep and staying in their dark bedroom as they fall asleep. I get the best ideas that way. Weird, but it works!

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLydia Kang

I get them in the supermarket. Or driving. People-watching at a boring party. Mostly anywhere I don't have a pen. I think my muse is a little bit of a meanie.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne R. Allen

I have to be completely alone. No husband, baby's asleep, nothing to hinder those creative juices from flowing. If I'm alone, it will usually come.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeagar

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