Years ago I treated creative writing of any kind like some miracle gifted to me from some kind of “writing inspiration genie” in a bottle. Like a mystical muse washing up to the shores of my neocortex and using me as its always willing, often desperate instrument.
Shortly after that genie arrives, it inevitably gets stuffed back into the bottle. Your muse disappears into another castle. You’re left feeling empty and disappointed and fruitless.
Did you ever use to think this way? Do you still? If so, you’re committing two grave sins against yourself.
First, you’re chopping your opportunities off at the knees. But that’s not the worst thing. The worst thing is that you are not even acknowledging and claiming your own talent.
You’re not taking ownership of it. Why rob yourself of that? Why give the credit to some imaginary ghostwriter inside your head.
Your Muse Is NOT In Another Castle
I know. We want to romanticize writing; creating of any kind. It makes it feel more special. Less like a job and more like irreplaceable magic.
It’s time for us to stop doing that.
Let’s check out the definition of “muse.”
/mjuːz/: a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.
Surprise! YOU are a person. Need some writing inspiration? Go inspire yourself!
Does that seem crazy? It’s not, because you can and should be inspired by:
- Your ability to create something from nothing. Because you’ve done it before and you will do it again.
- The fact that your words, your creations, your art elicits responses, emotions and actions from complete strangers. You make that possible simply by willing it into existence. That is a ridiculously powerful ability.
- The fact that in wanting “the muse” to arrive, in wanting inspiration to “strike,” you’re exhibiting the desire to write. If you have the desire, you can do it. Writing is not a skill you’re born with; you learn it on the page. You perfect it by doing it.
Inspiration is just feeling mentally stimulated to do something creative, right? It’s the spark of an idea.
Nope. The rest is work. That’s the truth.
The spark for this piece you’re reading was two words: “Inspire yourself.”
I opened up this CMS and slapped the words into a new draft. Then started pacing around my apartment thinking of how to expand on that. How to turn that spark into a fire.
I’m not a wizard and I don’t believe in genies, so I knew this wasn’t going to write itself. I knew that I could write it. I had the confidence that once I clicked “Publish,” my words would make an impact on someone.
The secret, then? It’s going to sound cheesy, and you’ve certainly figured it out by now.
The secret is just believing in yourself.
You — no one and nothing else — have the power and the talent and desire and experience to turn that blank page into something you’re proud of.
Something you can share with the world. Something with passion. And something that will create an emotional response from a complete stranger.
You’re the muse. You’re the writing inspiration. Now, go be the writer.