Baiting a Stubborn Muse

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We like to think we’re logical, rational creatures. Then our muse goes AWOL and suddenly we’re howling at the moon, looking for four-leaf clovers, and tossing pennies (or quarters) in the wishing well. Any of these approaches may provide solutions, but when you’re sick of praying to the Old Gods and the New, try these offerings instead.

Seek Inspiration from the Muse

You just finished your last project, and now you’re suffering the writer’s version of post-partum depression. Maybe you’re stressed, and all your ideas feel dry and old. It could be you’re just in need of new characters, themes, and struggles. Where do you find them? How do you get your muse involved?


You don’t need to be social media savvy to use Pinterest. Although writers sometimes use it as an advertising platform, it helps even more authors seek creative inspiration. You’ll find more than cake recipes and knitting patterns here. Search for character inspiration, mood boards, aesthetics collections, and more. Organizing you own collections is easy, and you don’t have to make anything public, either. No spoilers, right?

Read Something New

Step away from prose for a while. While writers need a steady diet of fiction to grow up big and strong, your muse may need different fair. Poetry is a go-to muse baiter, and it has been for centuries. Flip through art encyclopedias and photo essays. A picture is worth a thousand words, and poetry is the food of love, so eat well and tempt your muse’s appetite with creative media.

Keep a Muse Bait Bucket

Did you keep a secret treasure box full of pretty rocks, feathers, and broken toys when you were a kid? A bait bucket for a muse works the same way. Pay more attention to the world around you. When you see something interesting – something pretty, something that makes you ask a question, something unusual – bring it home and add it to your muse bucket. You may find yourself collecting cool pebbles again, or you may bring home curious fliers for small band performances and niche flea markets. Anything that makes you look twice belongs. When you need ideas, you’ll have bait to chum the water for even the most stubborn muse.

Fighting Fear and Frustration

Sometimes you know – generally – what to write, but you sit frozen. This insidious form of writer’s block drowns plenty of aspiring authors. Fear, perfectionism, and stress kill creativity, but there are some clever ways to fight back.

Go Analogue

If you type your stories, try writing by hand for a while. This slow, methodical process gives your brain time to piece together the next phrase, the next sentence, the next concept. Ideas grow when you’re focused but not really looking at them. If it’s been a while since you picked up the (literal) pen, now’s a great time to test your handwriting.

Change Your Font

No one wants to do it, but we’ve all heard it works: change your work doc’s font to Comic Sans. It looks so cartoonish, awkward, and unprofessional, but that’s the whole point. Whatever you write in Comic Sans will inevitably be better than the font you wrote it in. Low stakes. Low stress. You’re already ahead, so just get that first draft down and remember to change the font back before sending to your alpha readers.

Close Your Eyes

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, the world quickly becomes overwhelming. You may find yourself staring into space more often than you move your fingers, thoughts spiraling out of control and your word count goals drifting into oblivion. The simplest way to cut off extraneous stimuli and immerse yourself in your story is the most basic motor skill even infants have mastered: close your eyes.

One of these tricks may work for you, or all of them. Sometimes figuring out how to spark the creative process is as laborious as the creative process itself. We hope you’ll spend less time trying to write and more time actually writing this week, though. How do you deal with a stubborn muse?

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