MUSE? Or just the creative genius of the right brain?

‘I’ve always wanted to write a book.’

You have no idea just how many people have said these same words to me over the years and yet 4% of them actually do. I pull that figure of 4% from thin air as since I started running workshops and sharing the secrets of the writing world (shh) with others, 4 people have actually done something about it and achieved publication! Yay!!

Thank you! My public. I love you all.

Thank you! My public. I love you all.

 

When I quizz people further about this great masterpiece they’re going to write, the next thing I’ve heard is:

‘I’m going to write it when the MUSE hits.’

Now, being a writer, the first thing I do is turn to the dictionary for a definition.

“to become absorbed in thought; especially: to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively”

jack sparrow

 

If I go to Wikipedia (which everyone knows is exceedingly accurate!) it says:

MUSE  (band) – an English rock band who formed in 1994

or

MUSE – Greek goddesses (there is controversy as to the exact number) who have the ability to inspire creation with their graces for song, stage, dance, traditional music and writing.

Now I’m a very right brained person (the right side is the creative side of the brain) and at often times am found to suddenly be colouring my hair – with little plan or forethought. Or I might decided to bake a cake at 10pm at night just because I feel like eating cake. When I was a teenager, it was not uncommon for me to change the furniture around in my room at 11pm simply because the mood did strike. I’m sure my parents and siblings thought I was nuts but then, none of them are as right brained as me and therefore, had no hope of understanding my ways.

So my question is, do I bake at odd hours and suddenly colour my hair or move furniture because of a MUSE or because my creativity bubbles up inside me and needs to find an outlet? I love witing, I love creating awesome characters but oftentimes I have to put them on pause while I deal with “real life” (blech). Then, when I have the time – which is usually late at night – I sit down and let the inspiration I’ve bottled up flow from my mind, my fingers typing furiously on the keyboard as I race to get the words down before I forget them.

Is this a bottled up MUSE fuelling me on? Is this just the pressure of a deadline? Is this just me?

I have never been the type of writer to sit around and wait for the MUSE to do their thing, for inspiration to hit. If I did that, I wouldn’t be presently writing BOOK NUMBER FIFTY-NINE.  It is possible to train your creative brain, it is possible to find self discipline and it is possible to produce an awesome story which a publishing house will love and rave over, by employing hard work and dedication to your craft.

Seriously folks, if you’re waiting around for your MUSE, you’d be better off listening to MUSE (the band) while you bake a cake. Time is precious. Don’t waste it.

snoopy_snowflakes

 

Lucy

 

 

 

The Big Let Down

Hey peeps. Long time, no see. My apologies for my slackness, apparently the beginning of the new year decided to kick me about the bum a bit. I’ve also finished two big projects, as well as doing stuff in The Other Life, so I’ve needed a bit of a breather. It’s been…well, it’s all been kind of a let down.

You know what I mean? You’ve finally finished your big project. You’ve worked on it and loved it and you’ve spent every waking minute thinking about it. You’ve been sat in front of a computer feverishly typing away, adhering to a deadline you may have established or your publisher has established or you are going away on that holiday to Thailand and you really, really have to get it finished…

Any-the-hoo, you’ve been working away like a busy little bee…and then it’s finished…over…and you wonder what on earth you’re supposed to do now.

You feel like you should be working but there’s nothing to work on. You feel like you should be starting the new story but you are too burned out. There is a constant feeling the other shoe is about to drop and you wonder what is wrong with you that you feel this way.

I felt like this after finishing those projects I’ve mentioned. Every weekend I worked, in the evenings, at odd moments during the day. I spent my downtime thinking about the projects and was generally consumed by the story for a few weeks. Then, I handed it in to my editor…and I was at a complete loss.

I felt like I needed to do…something. Didn’t I have a manuscript I needed to work on? Was I supposed to be editing? There was an extra scene I needed to write, surely. I should be in front of my computer, tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard…but, of course, I had no manuscript to work on. I had finished. Finished, I tells ya!

So how did I combat it? I talked about how I felt ‘let down’ with my friends. I discussed it with my Lucy. I tried to start the next project. It’s a strange feeling when you think you should be doing something even though you know you have finished. Your head is saying one thing and your heart (for want of a better term) is saying another and you just can’t reconcile the two. You tell yourself to have a break but you’ve been working so hard for so long, surely you should be continuing with that?

Next question – how successful was I? Well, I’m still trying to discover that. I think the only way to combat the big let down is to allow time to pass. I think you need time to adjust back to normal, to find your creativity again and be able to shift into the new story. There’s no point writing a historical romp through Romania in 1845 when you’re still mired in an operatic space drama set in Galactic Space Zone Trifixidoria, Quadrant Alpha-Numrea G7.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s okay to do nothing. To relax. Wind down. Learn how to be calm and collection again. Have a glass of wine, eat that chocolate, enjoy a walk along the beach. You need time to recharge so you can tackle the next big project and go through the whole process again!

Crashing Lucy’s workshop

Hi peeps,

Well, already we’re messing with our schedule! It’s taken less time than I thought 😉 This week, I’ll be posting instead of Lucy and I thought I’d talk a little something about The Thursday Night I Crashed Lucy’s Workshop.

On a Thursday every fortnight for five fortnights, Lucy is holding a workshop on The Craft of Writing a the SA Writers Centre. Last Thursday, I totally rode her coattails all the way into the Centre, laughing manically all the way. Well, maybe not manically, but there was definitely a chortle or two.

That fortnight, the class were discussing Dialogue. Lucy had some great things to say on the subject, starting with her breakdown of what influences dialogue:

GOALS, MOTIVATION, CONFLICT will influence everything you write, and in this case, will influence what dialogue you choose for your characters. The plot should always be moving forward, and your dialogue should reflect this.

leads to

SENSES using the senses will help you ‘show’ rather than tell. The example Lucy gave: Rather than using description to alert a reader to a sound, such as a bell, have your character say “Did you hear that?”

leads to

PUNCTUATION will change how a reader interprets your intent. Lucy used the example of the word ‘yes’. Yes. is different from Yes… from Yes? from Yes!

leads to

EMOTION will influence everything, but the other steps will help you show rather than tell the emotion your characters are feeling.

Lucy also discussed the use of tags and adverbs in regards to dialogue. Myself, I try to avoid tags whenever possible. Dialogue is always stronger if an action is attached rather than a tag, ie,

“You’re a dick,” she said angrily.

vs

“You’re a dick.” Shaking off his hand, she crossed her arms and glared.

There were lots of other bits and bobs, including the portrayal of accents, the use of exposition and a description/dialogue ratio. Twas definitely a fun night out and, just quietly, I’m looking to crash the next workshop too! Don’t tell Lucy, ‘kay? 😉

– Cassandra