Tuesday, June 26, 2012


When you talk about art, you are talking about the so-called muses. Writing is an art, which means there is also the so-called muses. I used this word a lot when I share my frustration in dealing with writers block and self-discipline issues. I knew this word by heart. I have a good understanding over what the word means, but I never looked it up in the dictionary before, so this morning I just did

muse 2 (mjuːz)

— n
a goddess that inspires a creative artist, esp a poet

[C14: from Old French, from Latin Mūsa, from Greek Mousa a Muse]
quoted from:  dictionary.reference.com

The nine muses
—Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania, Melpomene—
on a Roman sarcophagus (2nd century AD, from the Louvre)
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

I was so in love with Muse's definition: a goddess that inspires a creative artist. Turns out what we call as "Muses" are the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts. Pretty cool, right? But I won't be talking about history or Greek mythology here, probably some other time.

Let's talk about muse in a more general perspective. I knew what muse was, it's more of a abstraction state (this definition was also stated in the same page as the one mentioned above) where you feel like you're "in the zone". Writers wait for this a lot because once you find your 'Muse', you'll feel like flying, like your fingers couldn't stop typing one word after another one and you'll feel so alive when you do. The 'Muse' is exactly like a goddess that inspires a creative artist. The thing is, this 'goddess' doesn't come around and go as we wish. She doesn't act under our orders, it's actually more like the other way around. Stephen King wrote a wonderful quote on this in his book 'On Writing', and it said:

"Muse's job is to smoke cigars.

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. King talked about how our Muse, our goddess, has always been by our side. She never left. But she won't be able to help and inspire if she doesn't find you working, or in other words, writing. He said that we could never feel like she's helping us if we don't discipline ourselves to write everyday because when we don't, there's really nothing she could help us with. Muse is only there when we write, so when we don't, she's gone. It's kind of like telling her our working schedule so she knew when she should show up and decide if we're working hard enough.

If you've read enough writing advices and writing quotes, there's a lot of chatter about self-discipline in writing and this is actually one of the keys to get our Muse working. A lot of great writers from decades ago until today talked about sticking to a certain writing schedule that you follow every single day. It's hard at the start, but as you go along, it gets easier, not because of the writing itself, but because our minds are trained to process and work on ideas like a routine at scheduled hours. You know how our bodies and minds react towards routines, after a certain period of time, they seem to automatically act accordingly to their required functions in completing the task (for example: waking up at certain hours automatically without alarm at similar hours every morning). This is what we called as our Muse, when we're 'in the zone', when our bodies and minds are focused to the writing process which helps us to come up and process ideas to write about.

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