I’m all about beating writers block and feeding the muse. You’d think with the lockdown, I’d find more time to write. Truthfully, my motivation these days sucketh. I never suffer from wondering what to write. In fact, I’ve put together an on-demand webinar for beating writers block (currently free).
But for me, and I suspect for many others, the motivation part as well as overcoming blocks comes through inspiration. No, as a professional fulltime writer, I can’t wait around and wait for the Muse to strike. But feeding the Muse regularly does help.
So many of us get inspiration and motivation from writer conferences, but of course, this year, many have been canceled. *sigh* I’ve updated this post, based on a long-ago speech I shared at Cat Writers’ Association.
Beating Writers Block & Feeding the Muse
I live with two furry muses, and three more live in my heart. These days my Muse whispers, demands, and sometimes screams for attention, like an itch in that impossible-to-reach spot in the middle of your back. Once you finally start scratching it feels soooooooooo good you don’t want to ever stop.
I’m bad at promising to scratch the itch “as soon as…” (fill in the blank) which is why I’m so far behind on my next thriller HIT AND RUN. The truth is, the Muse doesn’t care that we’re busy with real life and a pandemic, or that we only have 10 minutes to spare in between grocery runs (at a safe distance) and home-schooling, plus running a business from the second bedroom. The Muse just gets hungrier and more demanding the longer we ignore her gentle taps on the shoulder–sort of like a dog pawing your leg. And if ignored too long, you’ll get a thwack upside the head that wakes you from a sound sleep.
Sort of like a cat.
Feeding the Muse Wherever She Strikes
A muse doesn’t care if we scribble on napkins, type with a keyboard, twitter or fritter our litter-ary time with print or Ebooks. She wakes us at 3 a.m. and demands to be fed, she sinks dagger claws into our heart and soul. The muse pushes that soggy nasty ball into our lap, urging us to throw-throw-throw with all our might, promising how good it will feel and to return that ball to our willing hand time after time after time.
She won’t relent until we give in to the urge. The urge to write. To create.
Publishing During Plague
Some of y’all know that we have had as many as 700 rose bushes surrounding our home. Over the years, the roses have been attacked by grasshoppers, leaving nothing but Addams Family stems; bulldozed by armadillos so that the tender roots fried in Texas sun; and over-pruned, which killed or crippled the plant.
More recently, we lost nearly all of our beautiful flowers to rosette disease, a plague that infects, maims, spreads like wildfire, and kills both tender new plants and healthy ancient individuals. Sound familiar?
But the grasshopper-eaten roses with viable roots produced fresh, healthier growth. Even ‘dillo-dozed roses survived—with scars, to be sure, but still produced stellar blooms. And the fraction of roses immune to the plague or protected by a safe location, now provide a roadmap for a reimagined, reinvented garden–a new normal.
Stay with me, folks, there’s a rose-thorn-sharp point to be made . . .
Perfect Time, Perfect Place, Perfect Prose — Perfect Hogwash!
As an over-zealous pruner, I’ve learned to restrain my instincts and appreciate the thorny, hardened portions of established bushes. This was a hard lesson to learn. See, if they’re cut out completely, there’s no scaffolding to support fresh growth, and the blooms fall in the dirt and are trampled–and the whole bush becomes mulch.
Embrace the battle scars of your writer-icity journey. We rarely appreciate what comes easy, and the struggle itself brings its own joy. After all, only harsh extremes of nature bring forth diamonds. The strain still sucketh–but by embracing and making the negatives a part of the process, we can–we must–endure.
Artists always find a way.
Embracing My Inner Bitch
After more than two decades of writing, I’m a prickly, hardened bitch-of-a-pet writer. I do not flinch at the “B” word, it’s a badge of honor in my world. I know when to show my teeth, and choose my battles wisely. So I have less patience for high-maintenance writers or circle-the-wagons “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” attitudes than in my youth. WARNING: Those grasshoppers are voracious and if your roots ain’t healthy, you’re toast. When the plague of nay-sayers spread negativity that eats away at creativity, the professional writer-gardener knows what, when, how, and who to cull. She also knows what positives to fertilize for new, fresh growth to support glorious future blooms.
Don’t let that fact scare you. I can say that now–you can’t see the head-shaped dent in my office wall from
having the pee scared outta me mild concern. Writing is writing, and readers are readers. Publishing has a healthy root system and will survive armadillos, grasshoppers, writing in the time of Pandemic.
My speaking gigs have been cut back–so now there’s Zoom and on-demand webinars. Now my YouTube videos and Facebook Live events provide direct writer-to-reader connections. Print book sales go down, but Ebooks and Audiobook sales become more popular. Theatres close, so many artists can’t perform–and instead sing from windows, and play music on porches, and dance from living rooms all over the globe. I’m taking an on-line audition workshop, and having a ball! And by heaven, I will finish my next thriller one line, one page, one chapter at a time.
Supporting Creatives & Giving Back
Meanwhile, writers—and readers—support each other. Love a book or a writer—say so far and wide! Know a writer struggling with the effort of reinventing themselves? Shine a little color in that corner. That’s what sustains us through the dry spells, the never-ending deadlines, and rejections that nibble us raw. Mentoring each other keeps us sane–that’s the thorny protection that allows us to create our visions and bloom in our proper season.
Now then, listen–shhhhhh! Listen! Can you hear that?–put your hand over your heart and you can almost feel the rumble!? No, it’s not the printer whirring…well, maybe it is. But listen closer—and you’ll hear a symphony of blissful purrs, and the thu-thump-thump of happy wags–the sound of confident, tenacious, and oh-so-proud gardens full of Muses.
Or maybe that’s tummies growling.
So all you Creatives out there, the writers, the storytellers, the painters, the poets, the singers, and musicians, and and and … Go feed your Muse! That’s the best way to fight writers’ block. And if you’re having trouble kicking that writer’s block, maybe I’ll *see* you virtually in the on-demand class here.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!
Great pep talk, Amy! I think the only way to break a block is to write. Write anything, even diary-like reports, anything that gets you going. You’ll probably throw away a lot of what you write but eventually something good will come out.
Yep, just writing anything helps. Give yourself permission to write crap. Often it turns out to be surprisingly good!