Late last night, I was hit with a game-changing revelation. (Note to distributors of insight: there’s no shame in throwing under-arm, people.)
It turns out, when you’re trying to think of something to write about – wait for it, this is big – squinting at a blank screen and frowning intensely in pretend concentration DOES NOT HELP. True. I’m not kidding. I can hardly believe it myself.
As I picked myself up from the floor after this revelatory lightning bolt – still frowning fiercely because that’s quite an appropriate facial expression when one’s core beliefs have been shattered – I realised I needed some help with this creativity caper.
So I went searching through the interspace for some advice on finding a muse, you know, like Olivia Newton John in that movie about muses that roller-skate. Personally, I’d prefer Daniel Craig, not roller-skating, maybe emerging powerfully from the waves, a look of intense manly musing in his eyes…mmm, now that would be inspiring…sorry, what was I talking about? Oh yes, the interspace.
The first piece of advice I came across was the usefully titled “How To Call In Your Writing Muse”. “Jackpot!” I said to myself. With characteristic efficiency, I picked up my phone as I began reading, the other hand hovering over the keypad, prepared to speed-dial my muse – let’s call him Daniel – the very instant his contact details were revealed.
Imagine my disappointment when the instructions began with a list of “Things You’ll Need”, including athletic shoes, running clothes, journals, cassette tape recorders, aromatherapy candles, candles, bubble baths, sandlewood incense, music for zen meditation, notebook papers, pens and pencils, printer paper and candles.
It was beginning to look like a plan to stalk, chase down and then seduce the real Daniel Craig with candle-lit bubble baths until he gave in and used the pens and pencils provided to jot some inspirational ideas in the notebooks. Not quite what I had in mind but I read on.
Step 1: “Perform your own special ritual before you sit down to write. Light a candle, take a bubble bath, burn incense or meditate. The action will “open the door” to the world of spirit and the mysteries of imagination.” (Are you kidding? I barely manage a shower every day. There’s no way I have time for a bubble bath. And incense gives me a headache.)
Step 2: “Carry a small pad of paper and a pen with you at all times. You want your muse to know you are prepared for her visit.” (Okay, that I can do. Will try to keep it away from the mushy two-day old banana the boy-child half-ate at the shops and that has been unpleasantly odourising my bag since.)
Step 3: “Keep a notebook or journal next to your bed to write down interesting dreams. Your muse may visit you as you sleep and give you great ideas.” (Sorry, sleep is out of the question. My children are resolute on this point.)
Step 4: “Take care of your body, the ‘temple’ that hosts your writing muse. Eat regular, healthy meals and exercise daily.” (I’m thinking Daniel takes good care of his ‘temple’ already…mmm)
Step 5: “Surround yourself with positive people who support your creativity and writing life.” (Do the positive voices in my head count?)
Step 6: “Try not to be too perfectionistic with your writing. At least sometimes, let yourself write first and edit later. Your muse likes to visit when your ‘inner critic’ is turned off.” (Firstly, irrelevant – see all the writing above. Secondly, “perfectionistic”? Thirdly, that last bit sounds a little old-style sexist. Next you’ll be wanting me to have his pipe and slippers ready!)
To be honest, this advice didn’t really do it for me. To be really honest, they lost me at athletic shoes and running clothes.
So tonight, it’s back to the squinting and the frowning – unless you’ve got Daniel Craig’s number?