Writing habits are an interesting thing. They are highly personal and yet very public. Think about it. Whether I write or not is up to me, right? I mean, I can sit at my computer and play Facebook games all day or I can open my manuscript and write a few hundred words. Who would honestly know the difference?
Well, I would. It would be obvious to me. And my family would notice. Those rare days when I actually do play hooky from writing are the inevitably the days one family member or another will ask how the story is going. Or my critique partner will want to meet on an "off-time" and I better have something to give her!
But what about those days when you just don't want to write? Or (even worse) can't think of a single thing to type? It happens to all writers — published or not, fiction or non. My friend and writer's group buddy Lori Armstrong tells of a time when she was working on one of her Julie Collins' books. According to Lori, Julie spent more than six months sitting at a stop sign at an intersection on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Lori couldn't figure out which way Julie was supposed to head. It finally occurred to Lori that Julie shouldn't be on the Reservation in the first place!
The same problem happens to reporters — especially small-circulation or just-starting-out ones. Let's get serious! How many craft sales or parades can a person cover before they can't find a new spin on the story?
I've sometimes wondered if I didn't have to share my muse with a more prolific author. Maybe sometimes she hangs out with me, and the rest of the time with someone else. Then I can blame the other writer for my few words written that day. But, if I have to be honest, I don't think that's the case. I think I just plain don't listen.
So how do I find my muse?
- Read a book. No, seriously. Sometimes all it takes to put me back on the "write" path is to read someone else's published work.
- Do a craft. I knit. I crochet. I sew. I paint. I don't do any of those super well, but I do each of them well enough to enjoy it.
- Take a walk. I try to get a walk in each day. It gives me time to think, to plan, to plot.
- Just write. How often do I stare at a blank computer screen waiting for just the right words? I've noticed that if I start typing the "wrong" words, I'll get to the point that the correct ones start to flow. Or at least I'll have something to work with!
What other ways can the muse hit? Anything I should try?