Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Might Be a Muse Abuser If...

As many of you know, I finished drafting my first manuscript, The Bonding, back in April.  Several kind and gracious readers endured my wordiness and provided fantastic feedback. (My sincerest gratitude to each of you!)  After digesting that feedback, I began intense revisions and editing.

It is now essentially complete.
A map from the book

And as I turned my focus to beginning the sequel, my mind tarried on the process of creating the initial draft.  And on my muse.  I came to the realization that while drafting The Bonding I had done something unpardonable.  I had abused my muse.

I've vowed to not make the same mistake again. And like a reprimanded schoolboy, a hundred times I shall write.
I will not abuse my muse.
I will not abuse my muse.
I will not abuse my muse.
So how does one abuse one's muse?  And how can you tell if you're guilty of it?  The ways are many.  And the consequences severe.

You might be a muse abuser if...
  • You stop drafting to reach for the thesaurus.  Word choices are important, but not while you're drafting.  I've concluded that it's more important to get the essence of scene and plot and character down than it is to find that perfect word.  Trust me on this.  Your thesaurus isn't going anywhere; your ideas might.
  • You fail to write down your muse's ideas.  We're convinced we'll remember every nuance of that newly discovered plot development, amazing character or dynamite scene.  The muse gave us gold.  How could we forget it?  Yet we get home, sit at the computer and realize we've forgotten the very detail that made it so perfect.
  • You vow to begin writing just as soon as: you've finished checking email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, GoodReads and your blog comments.  Muses are temperamental.  They don't like to be kept waiting.  Ignore them too long and they'll leave.
  • You reject an idea out of hand.  Even the most ludicrous idea can be made to work if you'll let the muse think on it for a spell.  And once it works, you've opened a world of possibilities to explore.
  • You self-edit while you draft.  This is a biggie!  Not only does this hamper the flow of creativity, it can jumble consistency, cut scenes short, or alter the feel and flavor of a scene.  It can derail dialog and even change a character's voice mid conversation.  Draft first.  Edit later.
  • You give up and stop writing.  This is muse abuse at its worst.  Forgiveness for this only comes when you've apologized in earnest and resumed writing with renewed dedication.
These are but a few manifestations of muse abuse.  Plenty more exist.  Do yourself a favor.  Learn prudence.  Be wise.  Don't abuse your muse!

Have you ever abused your muse?  Care to share? 

26 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm guilty of some of these, but my muse and I always kiss and make up.

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    1. Thanks, Sharon. Reconciliation is wonderful!

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  2. Muse abuse - that phrase did make me laugh.

    I think my muse committed hari-kari the day I decided to make my story a trilogy!

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    1. I considered running with the rhyme, but decided against it. :)

      Your poor muse. They should know better than trust writers. We milk them for all their worth!

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  3. I'm guilty of not writing things down. It really ticks off my muse because she refuses to help me when I can't remember that perfect line or solution.

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    1. Me too. And at my age, I need all the reminders I can get.

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  4. I am guilty of all of those. "hangs head in shame" no wonder my muse hates me most days :)

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    1. Cristina, I find it impossible to believe that anyone could hate you--even disgruntled muses. You're much too awesome!

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  5. Definitely guilty of checking email before writing. Oh, and the thesaurus thing will never stop. I keep the web thesaurus up at all times while I write. Can't help myself.

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    1. Yes, some habits are more difficult to break than others. I still catch myself glancing over my shoulder when reaching for the thesaurus. We're about to see how well I can practice what I preach.

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  6. I'm guilty of everything but I thought I was the only one who does this. Precisely yesterday I heard my very pissed off muse say my appointed mission was to finish that story and now I've got all the info I needed I had not typed a single word in weeks. I went to play frisbee with the dwarves. Accidentaly, I might have sat on the muse.

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    1. I'm glad your muse delivered my query. I've been wondering about a certain Indian. And you crack me up... sitting on the muse. Dragons sitting on muses definitely qualifies as muse abuse. lol

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  7. I definitely contemplate every sentence I write and sometimes reach for the Thesaurus. In my defense, I'm such a slow writer anyway, so it doesn't slow me down that much more.

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    1. You sound a bit like me there, Alex. I'm hoping that adhering to these self-imposed guidelines will increase my drafting efficiency. But yes, I too "preemptively" self-edit.

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  8. Oh this was a great post. I piddle around until my muse just ups and leaves, and I really can't blame her. Some very sound advice embedded here; thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Julie. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm waiting on my muse to remove the "Page Up" key from all my keyboards.

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  9. Love the map for your book! That's awesome!

    And yes, I tend to abuse my muse "I will begin writing just as soon as I finish ..." I really need to stop doing that.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment, Cherie! I do love making the maps. I may get around to posting some of the others before long.

      And with all the confessions of muse abuse, we may need to establish a support group! LOL

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  10. Yikes! Is it any wonder I have written so little the past few weeks? I'm quite guilty of 1, 2, 3, and 5. Thank you for the reminders. Thank you for this excellent post. I needed this reminder.

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    1. Glad you liked it, Roxanne! I've been guilty of them all at one point or another, and guilty of some consistently.

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  11. We have all abused our muse...and out writing for that matter1 lol Yeah, I used to get these killer ideas and not write them down. Now I have notebooks and pads in every room and on me. If all else fails, I make a note on my phone.

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    1. I've started relying on my phone for jotting down notes and ideas too. And using the speech recognition makes it even more fun!

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  12. Thankfully the only muse abuse I do regularly is the one where I forget to write down those brilliant ideas. NaNoWriMo taught me to discard the rest of those nasty habits thankfully.

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    1. NaNo is definitely good for helping us break some of these habits--or at least making us aware of which habits we have.

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  13. I guess I better get to writing "I will not abuse my muse" then I'll get to writing that novel ... darn it!

    Great post. Helpful ideas as always. :)

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    1. Don't forget to speak it each time you write it. ;-) And good luck on that novel. Is it a NaNo novel or an existing WIP?

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