Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Listening to Your Muse

Building a Reputation

“You can’t build a reputation on what you intend to do,” according to Liz Smith, journalist at the New York Post for many years.

Nor can you can’t get a book published if you don’t sit down and put words on paper, be it a “real” piece of paper or a Word or Pages document.

How many times have we heard someone say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book” or some variation on that theme? It’s easy to want to do something, but not so easy to put that want into action.

One Poll Says 85% Want to Write a Book

What does it mean that so many people want to write a book (one study indicated that 85% of respondents wanted to write a book), but so few people actually get it done. For those of us who have tried to get an agent or publisher to accept our work, it seems that half the world is competing for an agent’s attention while the other half claim to be writing the next best seller.

Is There a Special DNA for Writers?

Does the fact that we have actually completed a book mean that we have some special DNA sequence that hasn’t been defined by the Genome Project yet? Or perhaps we have more leisure time than everyone else. Or maybe we’re all from rich families.

While all the above may be true - well, maybe not the DNA sequence, but the others - most writers don’t have rich parents who will allow them to write nor have they somehow found more hours in a day.

What’s the Difference?

So what is the difference between someone who wants to write and someone who sits down and gets the work done?

My theory is that authors have learned to listen to their Muse, that little voice somewhere deep inside your head who speaks to you, sometimes at the most inopportune times. That’s the voice that whispers a new story line or a plot twist or even some stunning dialogue.

Everyone Has a Muse

Does everyone have a Muse? I think so. Does everyone listen to their Muse? Not really. How does a person know whether that random voice in the back of your mind is that of a Muse or if it’s you going crazy? The answer is rather simple. You listen to the voice. Whenever it speaks, you write down what she’s saying. If you glean a tidbit of writing wisdom from the voice, you’ve made contact with your Muse.

Don’t Abuse Your Muse

Pay attention to your Muse. The more you listen the more she’ll say. If you’re serious about wanting to write that book, you’ve got to listen to her. You’ll surely end up writing the book. You can’t stop listening to her. If you do, she’ll get pissed off and leave and then you’ll have what is euphemistically called “writer’s block.” Once it’s finished, the really hard work begins. It’s the editing, querying, re-editing, and polishing that will suck your soul dry if you’re really an author.

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