"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Friday, December 2, 2016

How to "Make Nice" With Your Muse & Produce More

Whether your goal is to finish a novel, start a blog, or simply cross off more items on your creative “to-do” list, you’ll achieve more inspired results when you can make your muse a willing partner.
A reclusive muse, (A.K.A. a block in creativity) can cause a block in cash flow and derail your goals.

No output means no income. No income can cause stress, which in turn can cause your muse to become even more resistant.

If you’re on deadline with editors, publishers, or clients, it can become further problematic.
Which is why a strategic approach can improve your productivity, your outlook and your bottom line.

But before we address muse management, let’s examine some of the most common reasons it can abandon us when most needed:


  • Stress
  • Deadline pressure
  • The pressure of expectations
  • Fear (of failure or success)
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of focus
Here’s a perfect example that underscores how pressure can create havoc with our muse and cause us to under-perform. Many years ago, I had to complete a timed essay for a college entrance exam. Students got to choose from about 10 topics with instructions to write a persuasive essay. I completely blanked out. Even though I had been writing professionally for many years.
I folded under pressure.

Luckily, with prayer, I was able to focus (after about 20 minutes of staring at that ticking clock) and I passed the test.
Once I regrouped and lost my fears, I was able to gain perspective.

And you can too.

With this in mind, here are 5 practices and principles to “make nice” with your muse and become more productive in 2017.


1. Try a Change of Scenery.

If you’re used to working from home, why not tote your laptop or journal to the local library, coffee shop, or park? Bird watching, star gazing, or simply engaging in conversations with others can often provide information and inspiration for that next chapter of your novel, or next blog post.

2. Color.

Adult coloring books are all the rage. If you’re thinking that they’re just for kids, retrain your brain. According to Craig Sawchuk, a clinical psychologist at Mayo Clinic: “Coloring can help slow down heart rate and respiration, loosen muscles and stimulate the brain.” Many psychologists even suggest coloring as an alternative to meditation.

In 2015, an estimated 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the United States.

3. Take a Break.

That’s right. Though this may seem counter-productive it actually works. Scheduling some “down time” helps to relax the mind, rejuvenate the spirit, and “unplug.” Make it a part of your regular routine to break the monotony and to break through to new levels in your writing.

4. Dabble With Creative Prompts.

Creative prompts serve to jump-start the brain, ignite the imagination, and get those creative juices flowing. They usually consist of 1-4 opening lines, and are also commonly used in creative contests as story starters.

Here are a few sites you’ll want to check out to get going and to give you some practice.


5. Read.

When we open a book, we open ourselves to a world of possibilities. Reading helps to broaden our perspective, expand our knowledge base, hone our craft, develop our voice, escape, and understand the needs of an audience.

To quote Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
The next time you’re stuck, simply reach for that book on your night stand or coffee table, and your muse will appear before you know it.

Though writing is said to be a solitary profession, you don’t have to go it alone. Let your muse inform, engage and guide you.

Follow these five timely tips for greater progress, peace and productivity in the months ahead.

Your turn. Thoughts?
How do you make nice with your muse when you're creatively stuck?
Let's share ideas here.


  1. Jennifer--I love to go to a coffee shop. A cup of cheap tea that I nurse for several hours, and the words flow like the hot water refill I ask for.

  2. Your points are well taken. My muse returns with a nudge. I saw a call for submission recently that sent me straight to the keyboard. Prompts are also helpful. I think a change of scenery is exactly what is needed sometimes, as well as meeting in person with my critique group. Writing is a must but some days are a bust, and I accept that as my down time. Thanks for you always helpful hints and tips.

  3. Tea and scenery, I love that combo! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sioux. :-)

  4. And coffee shops are great for people watching and "stimulating "conversations.

  5. Lin,
    We all need down time, so true! Good luck on the recent call for submission, though I'm sure you don't need it. :-)

    1. By the way...feel free to share the link for fellow writers, Lin. :-)

  6. Thanks for sharing your angle on these tips, Jen. I do all of the above when pressed for inspiration and ideas. Looking forward to an upcoming blog break to recharge. Have a good week! :)

  7. My pleasure, Karen. You'll be missed. Thanks 4 adding to the mix here. :-)

  8. I knew I'd stumble on a reason for adult coloring books one of these days. And here it is. Of course, why didn't I think of those as stress-reducers? I doodle a lot for that reason, and if a kid leaves a coloring book lying around unattended, I'm the one who grabs the crayon and finishes the picture. Thanks, Jennifer. I'm glad I stopped in. Karen Lange sent me. I'll be back. :-)

  9. Hi Clee,

    Welcome! Glad you stopped by as well. Thanks so kindly for your input here. Don't be a stranger. :-)