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:~: Sunday, April 16, 2006 :~:

Can the muse come out and play?

I'm often fascinated by the schedules writers keep. When they get their main writing done, when they research, when they brainstorm. I'll admit, I'm not one for schedules. I think it comes from my years of teaching - nine years of having every moment of every day mapped out in detail because if you don't, all hell breaks loose. Nine years of peeing only when the bell says you can (because trust me, no matter how loud nature's calling, you don't leave a roomful of thirteen year olds alone for even a minute!).

I find schedules really stifling in my everyday life. My son's preschool schedule is about as structured as I like to be. There are benefits to being carefree - while I might have a series of things I need to get done in any given day, I don't feel any pressure to have them done at a certain time. However, there are also drawbacks - most notably that I'm terrible about checking my calendar and invariably forget important things like, oh say, a good friend's BRIDAL shower. (We won't go there.) Luckily, I have great friends who keep me on my toes - for example, in December I had a contest deadline I couldn't miss and Linda was nice enough to nag me about it every week. (And yeah, I waited until the very last possible moment to send in my revisions because not only am I terrible about schedules, I'm also a procrastinator.)

Where was I? Oh, right. Writing schedules.

I'm generally an evening writer - mostly because my daily life is way too chaotic with screaming kids to focus on anything for more than fifteen minutes without being distracted to no end. I can brainstorm and research and blog and blog-hop and web-surf and email during the day (I'm really good at email), but usually not write. Last Thursday something strange happened. Both of my boys took naps at the same time - practically unheard of around here - and I found myself with two solid QUIET hours by myself during the middle of the day. The house was silent. The coffee was strong. And I was ECSTATIC. I figured I'd get lots and lots of writing done, especially since the WIP had been brewing all morning. Did I?

Nope. I sat, opened the laptop, and proceeded to stare at the screen for the entire two hours.

Can you sense the frustration? I wasn't sure why that happened at the time, but now, looking back, I think my muse knew it wasn't the right time. That anything I would have written there would have been wrong. She wasn't ready to come out and play, and nothing I said or did would get her to come out. Apparently, my muse works between the hours of seven and midnight (news to me). And as Joan will attest, a lot of times she doesn't even get going until after eight o'clock. (Joan knows because numerous times I've IM'd her ear off distracting her to no end because my muse isn't ready to write. Then as soon as J ditches me, the muse pumps out fifteen to twenty pages . . . Go figure.)

So as much as I hate it, I guess you could say I have a writing schedule. It's not exactly the schedule I'd like to have, but it's the one that works for me. Try as I might, the muse doesn't listen when I want to change this little schedule, and it's obvious she doesn't care about things like unexpected naps and quiet houses. Let me tell you, for someone like me who prefers to be carefree and fancy free, it's a struggle to deal with.

What's your writing schedule like? When do you write and plot and brainstorm and research? Is your muse easily adaptable? (Don't worry, if you're the kind of writer who easily adapts to changes in your schedule I'll try not to hate you. ;) ) And most importantly . . . does anyone have tips for bribing the muse to come out and play during non-scheduled hours?????


Blogger MaryF said...

Absolutely I understand what you mean. I've had a four day weekend, and when did I get most of my writing done? Between 10 and 12 at night. I had ALL DAY. And I didn't do anything else, like clean or critique. If I could just admit to myself this is my best time, I would have a clean house and no contest entries hanging over my head!

9:01 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

I pretty much write any time. (don't shoot me, Eli) But I think it's because I use music as my writing switch. I pick certain music tolisten to for each story I am writing and when that music is playing I connect with the story and the characters. My Native American paranormals I listen to Native American music. My contemporary Cowboy I listen to Shania Twain, (Only because one of her songs is in a scene) If I'm writing a historical I listen to classical.

As for brainstorming and plotting, I do that best when I'm doing manual labor. Painting, cleaning house, pulling weeds or driving the tractor. My mind is free to travel where it wants and usually to the book I'm working on or to an idea for a new book.

So I guess you could say my muse is rarely at a loss, except when I write myself into a corner. When I can't sit down to the computer and write, it means I've written my characters into a dead end and I need to retrace and get them out.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

See, E, I think I'm secretly your muse. (SEG) We chat, I go off-line and you write...how much more of a muse do you need? Now...if that only worked for me...

I write for a couple hours in the morning at my favorite breakfast spot with lots of "friends" and white noise. Very productive...unless the old regulars feel like talking my ear off, then I consider it story fodder and absorb every word. Then I try to write again at night, but E usually hassles me until it's about time for me to go to sleep, so I don't get much done. (ASEG)

They say the muse doesn't come on demand, that you have to stick to your writing routine (I call it a routine not a schedule because I am seriously schedule-challenged) and the muse will come. Hmmm, interesting concept. Don't know that I agree, but...whatever.

I plot and brainstorm best when I'm driving, making beads or walking by myself. Manual labor is good, but I do very little of it :-). Although spring is here, and summer is upon us, so I'll be doing more gardening and pool cleaning when this will come into play.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Ha, ha, Muse (I mean, J). It's 8:46 PM, by the way. Time for you to get busy and go write me a climax.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Argh, Paty. I do the whole music thing too. I have certain music for certain ms's. But the only thing the music does for me is get my creative juices flowing. I can brainstorm up one side and down another with the music, but not write. I have to have quiet to actually write - hence why I never get anything done during the day.

And LOL, Mary. Admitting it is half the problem. I'm with you - deny, deny deny. If I don't just give in, I can still change the muse. (Wishful thinking).

8:50 PM  
Blogger Korillian said...

Maybe the reason why the muse is active at night is that it's the few times of the day where you're not pulled in a hundred different directions? I know that I find myself referring to night time as "my time", as in, "Katie, if you want to stay up and read that's fine but I don't want to see you out of your room because night time is my time." LOL!

6:21 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Korillian. That's EXACTLY the reason. I think the only way the muse will work for me during the day is if I invest in earplugs. LOL One of the speakers at Nationals last year suggested those big orange earphone things air traffic controllers wear out on the tarmac. (Although in her case it wasn't to ignore your kids but to get into your inner self in order to write - whatever time of day.)Now THAT might drown out the noise. (bad mother...baaaad mother.)

9:11 AM  

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