Tag Archives: Monday Muse

Monday Muse: The Only Writing Advice There Is

As always, on Mondays I try to get the week off to a good, productive start by discussing ways I’ve found to encourage, bribe, or outright trick Bridget, my muse, into knuckling down to work. Bridget, like most muses, is temperamental, lazy, and prone to pouting. (Yes, Bridgie, you are. Now tuck your bottom lip back in and stick with me.)
As indicated in a recent quote from Maya Angelou on this blog, even the finest of authors have trouble kickstarting their muse. (No, I don’t mean actually kicking you, Bridget. Although I will if you keep this up.) But, all tips and tricks aside, there is one thing you have to do to get muses to wake up and get going. I’ll share that secret with you, but I’m gonna tell you flat out, you aren’t going to like it.
Cause the sad truth is, it isn’t a secret. There is one absolute sine qua non* for Muse management, and we all know what it is. It’s kind of the literary equivalent of “how to lose weight.”
The sad truth is, losing weight takes eating less and exercising more. End of story. Of course, the tips and tricks are all designed to get you to do that. But boiled down to its essence, it isn’t a secret. We all know what to do.
Same with writing. Here’s the magic formula — B.I.T.C.H.O.K.
Of course, you know what that stands for: Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. No deep dark secret, no surprises. If you want to write, sit your butt in your chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and write.
Researching isn’t writing. Networking with other writers isn’t writing. For God’s sake, surfing the net for inspiration isn’t writing. Writing is writing.
And if you force yourself to do that, every day, for however long it takes, sooner or later your muse will figure out that you mean business, and she will show up. To show you who is the boss, she will sometimes show up without a single good idea, but eventually she will decide that she might as well get on with it. And then, the two of you will be working as a team, and you will write.
In order to make darling Bridgie get serious, I have a commitment. Every day, without fail, I will write 100 words on my WIP.
Now, yes, that seems like very little. That’s the whole point. Between the day job, and the family, and the friends, and the frenemies, and everything else, there are some days I look at my keyboard and want to simply puke. I can’t think of anything more distasteful than writing. But, as dear Dorothy Parker put it, while I don’t always like writing, I LOVE having written.
Its the starting that is hard. Once I make myself sit and do my hundred, I often find that Bridgie and I will keep on. We’ll do several hundred, if not thousands. But if I ever tell myself I have to write a thousand, Bridgie and I will just stamp our little feet like Shirley Temple and refuse.
I was doing pretty well with the hundred word challenge for a few weeks. Then, as is all too common with my bipolar self, I let my mood distract me. I went several days without writing, and Bridget took herself off to parts unknown.
When I finally sat myself down and made myself write, it was hard. Bridgie wanted to stay on vacation. But I think over the past few days, I have convinced her that we are going to either write 100 words of crap or 100+ words of something good every day. And since Bridget is pretty cocky about her writing skills, she has decided to go for good stuff instead of crap.
Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. The only real writing advice there is.

*Oh, yes, Ro’mama can sling Latin with the best of them. Had to get something out of that expensive law school education.

Muse Monday — the LUCKY 7 meme

If you are going to try to make a go of this bizarre hobby/profession/pursuit/obsession calling writing fiction, ya gotta have friends. I don’t mean the “hi, how are you, we should do lunch, call me” kind of friends. I’m talking about people who you can tell about your latest writing funk, confident that they will simultaneously hand you a sympathetic chocolate cupcake and give you the proverbial swift kick in the gluteus that will jump start your muse.

I’m particularly blessed in this area, because I have two groups of friends who fit this description. In realtime, I have the greatest bunch of writers to hang with at the local Books A Million. So a great big shout-out to the Pensacola clique – you know too much about me for us to ever stop being friends!

And in the virtual realm, I am proud – and humbled – to be a part of an incredibly talented and supportive crit group known as the Super Fly Writing Group! (Aka #SFWG on twitter).

They encourage me, challenge me, and inspire me on a daily basis. And the very fact that they let me play in their sandbox gives me hope. I mean, seriously – if these brilliant ladies treat me as a colleague, I must have some tiny bit of talent there somewhere!

Last week, the awesome Candie Leigh, a fellow SFWG member and helluva YA author, sent out a blog challenge called The Lucky Seven. Now, at the time, I was in the midst of a trip to Orlando’s theme parks with my babies, and I didn’t get to play then. But the challenge reminded me that I had been inexcusably lax in my blogging, so now that I am back in the real world, I am picking up on Candie’s meme and running with it. You should all go right now to read her Lucky 7 post at http://adventuresofyawriting.blogspot.com/2012/06/ive-been-tagged.html. It gives you a fab little taste of her latest novel, SEEK.

As to playing Lucky 7, here are the rules:

Go to page 77 in your current manuscript
Go to line 7
Copy the next 7 lines/paragraphs and post them as they’re written (no cheating!)
Pass the meme on to at least 7 other writers.

I’m sending a shout out to my peeps, so hopefully there will be a whole bunch of you who play along by putting a link to your lucky seven in the comments below!

Now, here’s 7 paragraphs from my most recent finished book, HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO. Cassie Grace thinks all her historical-romance dreams have come true when a wealthy British businessman comes to her small Georgia town. But real life isn’t quite as tidy as a book, and it isn’t always easy to recognize a hero …

A little after two, James called to check on any messages. Right. In a word ruled by cell phones and e-mail, nobody leaves messages for anyone anymore. I told him there weren’t any, but Rosemary had asked about him when he didn’t show up this morning.
“Right. Listen, Cass, just as a favor to me, don’t tell her which towns I’m visiting. Of course Rosemary knows we’re looking at several other sites. That’s no secret, by any means. . . Do you mind?”
Ok, I was torn. I mean, I work for Rosemary, and I owe her a certain amount of loyalty. But on the other hand, James had given me the info on his plans under somewhat exceptional circumstances. And if I had any hopes of my relationship with him going anywhere (which of course I did, in a major way), I needed to help him out, right? So I did the kind of hairsplitting I’d seen Rosie and Mr. F. do. Lawyers can always find irrelevant distinctions that justify what they already wanted to do.
I decided I wouldn’t tell Rosemary anything else. And since he hadn’t asked me if had told her anything already, I figured I could cover both sides of my divided loyalties.
Yes, I know that kind of thinking never ends well. But given my stop to see Trina that morning, what was a little more moral relativism? I had decided to put aside the black/white, right/wrong mentality I was used to and look at things in shades of grey for a change.


Janice and Bobby invited me over to a get-together they had Friday night. The Georgia basketball team was involved in some sort of major game that all the guys in town just had to see, so Bobby set up his computer to project onto a screen in the backyard and threw a cookout. Neither basketball nor Bobby’s hamburgers were high on my must-have list, but it beat staying at home and trying to write while I wondered what a certain British Greek god was up to wherever he was.
I got my crispy black burger – e. coli stands no chance when Bobby Harvey is cooking – and settled down on a quilt Janice had spread to the side of the main game-watching area.

And yes, dammit — I used the phrase “shades of grey” in this MS months before any Twilight Fan Fiction using that phrase hit the mainstream!!! (grumble, grumble.)

Monday Muse: 100 Word Challenge


Ok, so I’m posting my Monday Muse very late. In just 90 minutes, it will in fact be Tuesday. So sue me. I got a lot of stuff done today, and I’m getting to things as I can.

The truth is, kids, we tend to put our writing off. As a wife, mom, lawyer, volunteer, church worker, and all the other roles I claim, it is easy for “writer” to get shoved in the back of the closet. And that, as you know, is death to your muse. They have to get out regularly for a good stretch, or they just curl up in the closet and sleep their mythological little lives away.

The only way to write is TO WRITE. Write something, even if it sucks. Write often, write regularly, but above all, write! So I’ve signed on for the 100 Words a Day Challenge. No matter what, however chaotic the messy life of mine gets, I am gonna write 100 words each day on my WIP.

That sounds like nothing, no? But sometimes, when there is a Board Meeting at work, the oldest has the flu, the youngest has a term paper, the DH has his grump on — you know, getting 100 words is right up there with turning water into wine. A miracle of Biblical proportions.

Other days, there isn’t so much going on, and the first hundred is only a gateway to a couple of thousand. But if you don’t start, you’ll never get any words for the day. So, a doable goal, but one which often takes me way beyond the bare minimum.

I’ll be posting my daily wordcounts every so often, so y’all keep me accountable, ok?

TODAY: 746.