Monday Muse – Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

My dear Muse, Bridget, is a darling girl, and of course she is the finest writer I know. (As dear Mr. Disraeli said of royalty, when flattering Muses, one should lay it on with a trowel.) But, dare I say it, even Bridgie gets a bit comfortable now and again. She starts to expect the same thing, at the same time, in the same way. There is a fine line indeed between a comfortable Muse and a bored Muse, a line which one crosses at great risk. A comfortable, happy Muse churns out the word count, while a bored Muse slinks around on the internet, doing interminable piddling in the name of “research.”
So how, boys and girls, do we keep our Muse interested in life, so that the sparkling dialogue and lavish descriptions keep flowing onto our computer screen? Well, one way is to keep her just a tiny bit confused. Give her new input, in ways she doesn’t expect, so that she doesn’t give in to the tedium of everyday life.
Every once in a while, even when your Muse is behaving properly and helping you write your masterpiece, mix it up a bit. Do something different. Walk on the wild side.
Well, “wild” is relative, of course. What is wild and outlandish for you might be just another day at the office for me. But the idea is this – go somewhere new. Do something you haven’t tried before. Even if you are totally sucky at it, the effort will get the synapses in your brain firing in weird and wonderful ways.
For example, MATH. Many of you know my aversion to Math. I managed to get through high school, college and a doctorate without ever attempting anything beyond Algebra I. In fact, I’m not completely sure what Calculus is. Numbers make my brain freeze, just like drinking a slushy too fast on a hot August night.
But I picked up a book of Sudoku not long ago. Yes, the very idea of playing around with numbers made my brain hurt. But I fiddled with it, did the really easy ones, and rewarded myself lavishly if I managed to finish one. I now have a Sudoku app on my iPad, and I’ve worked up to the “intricate” level – only two from the hardest (“diabolical.”)
I still don’t like numbers. To quote Bridget Jones in the elderly barrister’s office, “Never have. Never will. Sorry.” But the doing something different jump-started my brain in some kind of crazy way. After doing a few dozen sudokus, poor Bridget (Muse, not Jones) was so grateful to be back in the world of words that she jumped in and gave me 10,000 words on the WIP.
So the next time your Muse gets a little stinky and doesn’t want to buckle down to work, expose her to something new, different and maybe even at first unenjoyable. You just might be surprised with her reaction.


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