In this post, we tell you how to write without your muse.
Have you seen your muse lately? With the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and economic crises, the din of the news is so deafening, that it’s hard to hear that inner voice inspiring us. But how can you write without that inner spark? This article aims to show you just that.
How To Write Without Your Muse
So, Your Muse Is Gone
Lots of writers are struggling with their day jobs and their concerns for health and safety. Many of us have experienced personal hardships lately. Finally, there’s the negativity of the news. It can be so overwhelming. No wonder your muse has taken a leave of absence! Who would not want to leave?
Writers Write – Do They?
And yet, writers everywhere still sit down to write; we stick to their routines. We know how to turn on the tap with prompts and deadlines – but nothing will come out. Our brains are frozen in an endless news loop of catastrophes. We feel drained. Not an inspiration in sight. Yet we are writers. We write. This is who we are and what we do. We hate being like this.
Psychologists tell us that being frozen like this is a normal stress reaction. It’s part of our human DNA (for more, read this article). Acceptance is the key, but how do we ‘defrost,’ so to speak?
Writing Is A Muscle We Need To Flex
Remember: Writing is how writers see the world. It is our avenue of perception and expression. We read other writers to understand the world, and we write to express ourselves.
Go back to your beginnings – when you wrote whatever whenever, just to build up those writing muscles. That’s right! Writing is like a muscle. You need to flex it, or it will become all shrivelled up. Let us go to the gym.
Writer’s Gym: Low Impact Exercises
The trick is to scale down our expectations. You haven’t lost your language; the words are still there! They’ve just become sparse, soft-spoken, with little imagination. Just write that. It doesn’t have to be a three-volume novel, it doesn’t have to win the Pulitzer. These exercises will prove it to you – hopefully, they’ll also be fun. And who knows? You might just rediscover your creative spark.
1. The Word Of The Day
You’ve heard about journaling before, and you know that it helps to empty your brain. Right now, you might not be bothered with writing endless accounts. Then why not limit journaling to one single word? Pick the ‘Word Of The Day.’
If you can write more, then choose the medium which helps you write fast: for some, it’s the soft lead pencil, for others the computer. The slower you write, the more control your brain will exert. Right now, we want speed and little control.
Decide if you want to write in the evening. When you reflect on the day, journaling tends to become analytical, you can easily get stuck on things past. Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning pages’ tend to look at the day ahead, they’re usually more optimistic. Experiment!
For this, you need a newspaper or a magazine. From their headlines, choose words that appeal to you (for whatever reason). Cut them out and put them into a box (it can be just one word or even a phrase). Then, one by one, draw fifteen words and arrange them as a list. Do they create meaning? You can reshuffle if you like. If one word seems particularly jarring, then you may put it back into the box and choose a new one. This technique has been invented by the French Surrealists. They call these poems ‘found poems.’
3. Explore Your Senses
Find a lively but peaceful place outside. Settle in and keep a notebook and a pen at hand. Then, close your eyes and focus on your other senses. With your eyes still closed, try to write down what you hear, feel, smell, and taste. If you cannot write with your eyes closed, then just explore. Write immediately after you open your eyes again.
4. Picture Perfect
Take a postcard or picture from your favourite place (it can even be one you haven’t visited). Write a caption for the picture. Now write nine more. It’s not easy to produce so many but the last one will be the most interesting.
5. Dictionary Story
Take a dictionary and open it at random. Don’t read what is on the page. Take your finger and point at a word. Take this word and write it down. Repeat until you have at least twenty words. Write them down in a list. Now try to string them together in a sentence or two. You may change a word from noun to adjective or verb if needed. Insert prepositions and articles, where appropriate.
Round 2: use more words of your own.
6. Silent Movie
Take a picture out of a magazine with two or more people (don’t choose a motif that upsets you). Look at the people. Try to imagine who they are, where they’ve been just before the picture was taken. Try to write a subtitle: what could they say at this moment? Do they say something banal (like ‘Oops, forgot to brush my teeth.’) or extremely clever (like ‘Did you know that a German invented the telephone?’ It was, look it up!).
Round 2: If you feel confident, why not write a short scene?
The Last Word
All these exercises require little creativity, they’re lots of fun, and they will make you use your gift of words. Hopefully, they will lead you to discover that your inspiration has never left your side. It has just been silenced by all the noise going on in this world. Now all you need to do is to tune in again with the help of these exercises. Happy writing!
Further Reading: 10 Ways To Get Out Of Writer’s Rut
By Susanne Bennett. Susanne is a German-American writer who is a journalist by trade and a writer by heart. After years of working at German public radio and an online news portal, she has decided to accept challenges by Deadlines for Writers. Currently she is writing her first novel with them. She is known for overweight purses and carrying a novel everywhere. Follow her on Facebook.
More Posts From Susanne
- 10 Things That Stifle A Writer’s Creativity
- What Procrastination Can Do For You
- What Is A Pastiche & Why Should I Write One?
- What Is A Satire & How Do I Write One?
- How To Be Successful In The Publishing World
- How To Write An Elevator Pitch For Your Book
- Secrets Of A Long Distance Writer
- Why It’s Okay Not To Write (& Simple Steps To Start Writing Again)
- How To Edit Like A Pro