Getting Your Muse to Speak

The Captive Water Fae

The Captive Water Fae

I was writing to a younger friend who is trying to wrestle inspiration to the ground and get it to spit out a story that is hanging around. We’ve chatted about various issues over the year; amongst them is the on-again, off-again nature of her muse. Myself, I struggled through a ten-year dry spell, and did Julia Cameron’s course twice–lots of good tools there.
But this is what I figured out this morning about getting it jump-started, and I wanted to share:

I was thinking about your story-work this morning earlier and I thought perhaps you might like to take a different tack, one that lets you have more of a dialog with your Self (your muse, if you like).

Start with the thing that your heart goes to right off, the elf & the human together, yes? Then ask questions and wait for a reply (or a picture, which is a reply).

Example (not telling you what should happen, just trying to show what it might feel like):

Your muse: My elf and my human are sitting together in a sunny place.

You: What does it look like?

They’re on a stone bench in front of an old, old building, looking out over the overgrown ruins of high-tech city.

Why is it overgrown and in ruins?

They found it together while looking for something.

What were they looking for?

<muses dodges a bit> The human has a map in his hand.

Were they there because of the map?

Yes…

…and so forth.

It’s like playing interactive fiction with yourself. Just wait on the answers patiently. If the muse dodges, it’s because you’re supposed to follow it and go in a different direction. Eventually, it will get to telling you stories on its own, or showing you movies in your head—and then you have to write fast enough to keep up with them!

If you keep editing before you get the pictures or story out, you’re telling your muse that you don’t like what it’s saying and it will shut up.

If you consciously decide you want to go in a certain direction for…well, an ego reason, say (like wanting to be unique), and that’s not the story it has for you, it will shut up.

You have to trust it to tell you a story and let it have its head. Follow it. It won’t lead you astray, no matter how weird or mundane the stuff that comes out. What comes out is what you need to hear or be doing.

After all, your muse is not different from you. It’s still you, just a part that has learned to be quiet. Unfortunately, you have silenced the gatekeeper to your soul. You have to undo that in order to truly live.

And I gotta say, this is all related to the issues of trying to fit into a mold that isn’t yours, as opposed to seeing what kind of unique creature you really are. You won’t be all that weird or unsociable or unlovable if you let go and grow the way your supposed to. (If you were really *wrong* inside, you’d already be having major psychological problems and breaks—so I’m not worried.) Smile In fact, you might be a little miffed that you’re really pretty normal, sane, and well-adjusted. Be glad for that!

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