The Muses were daughters of Zeus in Greek mythology whose role was to inspire creativity in poets, artists, and the like.
You can read a full description of them here.
I’ve been very fortunate in that my Muse has always provided me with a plethora of ideas. My short story, A Bite From The Dark Realm, which features in my collection, Choice Cuts A Bite From The Dark Realm , is the story of a young supermarket worker who discovers and then befriends a group of strange little creatures living in the storeroom.
I came up with the idea whilst I was actually at my supermarket buying fruit. I saw an orange with a strange mark on it that looked like (to me anyway), teeth marks. Straight away my mind began to be filled with ideas an images. What if there were little creatures living in the supermarket that came out at night to eat the fruit and vegetables? What did these little creatures look like? What would happen if they were discovered?
And so on.
You will hear most artists talk about their muse. I often laugh with my fellow authors how mine (bless her.), will keep me awake at night filling my head with dialogue or scenes from a yet to be written story.
But even the best authors can sometimes feel their muse has deserted them. Here are ten quick and easy tips to help you call your muse back.
1 TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS.
These days everyone has a Smartphone so taking a picture isn’t a chore. Find something that has sparked your interest and take a pic. What was it about this particular scene that made you curious? Look at that picture a few days later and jot down any ideas that come to you about it.
2 TAKE A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU.
You just never know when or where you’ll be when an idea strikes you, (Like me in the supermarket.) Even if it’s just a potential character name, a place etc. These are the nuggets that will help you build that story or paint that picture.
3 TALK TO PEOPLE.
Even people you interact with on a daily basis such as the checkout operator, your mechanic, hairdresser etc, can provide a kernel of an idea.Imagine your friend tells you her daughter skinned her knee whilst playing in the park. Was someone else responsible? Was the little girl running away from something? What if her injury was more than just a simple graze? All these ‘what ifs’ can be a goldmine for ideas.
4 Watch Television.
Yes, I know people say television can rot the mind, but not if you’re selective in your viewing choices. Do you write romance? Watch a documentary about an exotic location and start imagining your characters in that country. I watched some documentaries on the growing obesity crisis facing the Western world. From those shows I can up with the inspiration for my short story, A Glutton For Punishment. It’s a tale about a dystopian future where being overweight is a crime and the obese are sent to concentration camps.
5 Visit art galleries, museums and the like.
Modern and abstract art are perfect for firing up your imagination. Because art is subjective, you may see or react to a piece of art completely different from the person standing next to you. If that doesn’t work for you, try visualising the artist as they created their piece. Male or female? famous or struggling? Why did they create the art you are viewing? You may not come up with a story idea for the art piece itself but you’re sure to come up with some notes about a potential new character-the artist.
6 Cultural Events.
Almost every major city in the world has some form of cultural event. One that is probably universal is Chinese New Year, but there are others. Many ethnic communities hold fairs where you can sample indigenous food and wine, watch street performances and so on. Not only do these type of events help you learn more about a culture but you can learn a great deal about the country’s history, myths and legends and so on.
7 Historical Sites.
Even if you live in a small country town you have a history! Take advantage of it. There are some wonderful historical societies, usually run by caring voluteers who collect and collate anything to do with your town’s history. Read old newspaper articles, look at old photos, ask about colourful characters from the past. You don’t need to be an author of historical fiction to enjoy the inspiration historical sites and societies can provide.
8 Connect with nature.
We all have busy lives and most of us live in large cities or towns that are constantly on the go, as a result, we’ve increased our pace of life a lot too. How many times do you hear someone say, ‘I just don’t know where the time went.’ Sometimes we forget we have a connection to the Earth. Now I’m not suggesting you pack up and head to the wilderness for a month (but if that’s your thing great!) just spend some quiet time in your garden or a park. Open yourself up to all the sights, sounds and aromas. That large Elm tree, how old do you think it is? What sort of things has it been a silent witness to in its long life? Look at the sprinkler, what would happen to the world without water? What would happen if grass suddenly became posionous to humans?
9 Take a day trip to a new town.
Look, I get it, I really do. You’ve got a job and a family and it isn’t easy. But on the weekend or day off, make some you time. Hop on a bus or train or drive yourself to a town you’ve never visited. As human beings we tend to be complacent. we see the same old things day in, day out, to such a point we cease to take any notice of them. The old saying, familiarity breeds contempt is just as true today. By visiting a new town, you’ll be shaking your mind out of its complacency. The streetscape will be different, the shops will be different and so on. Use these differences to your advantage. What if you woke up tomorrow to find your town had been repaced by this one? What if this town isn’t as friendly as your own, is there a reason? That lovely little coffee shop you just enjoyed a latte in, what’s the history behind it?
10 Connect with Kindred spirits.
We are the lucky ones. We were born with the gift of imagination. We can turn something that is in our mind’s eye into that book, that painting, that musical compostion and more. Thankfully, you’re not alone. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to connect with other artists. I’m a member of a wonderful group of global authors called #Awethors. We support each other, help promote each other and best of all, help to provide inspiration. By joining a group in your particular field, you’ll be opening yourself to a ton of experience and ideas. Ask group members how they get their inspiration flowing again. Look at some of their works for your own inspiration. Many group members in online communities will be happy to provide links to sites or events that they themselves have benefited from.
By putting some, or all of these tips into practice you’ll be ensuring your muse is contented, well fed and never far from your side. Happy creating!
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- Michael J Elliott is an Australian writer. He is the author of two collections of short horror stories, Portraits Of Dread and Choice Cuts-A Bite From The Dark Realm as well as numerous short stories. He is the creator and host of the You Tube channel, The Dark Realm Diaries, a review channel for horror books/movies with the emphasis on indie artists. Michael is also the illustrator for Claire Plaisted's childrens books, Girlie's Adventures.