by Ellen Buikema
All great relationships have obstacles, including the relationship we have with writing. Sometimes the muse loves us, other times…not so much.
It’s hard to hear your muse when you’re worried. Worry is loud. It drowns out the wonderful inner voice that spurs your creativity.
Meditation. Freeing the mind for as little as five minutes can dredge up interesting thoughts that might be useful to your writing.
Going for a walk. Physical activity is great for releasing stress and clearing the mind.
Playing with a pet. Our pets, or if we are speaking of cats, our roommates, seem to have a sixth sense regarding our feelings and often know that we are stressed out before we do. Playing with them is freeing. Your inner voice will be back in rare form in no time.
Dwelling on the inability to hear your muse is a waste of time. Step away from the keyboard, do something mindless, and the inner voice will return.
We make time for those things that are important to us. Whether you should be writing every day or not depends upon several things, including:
If you are beginning your writing career chances are you’re working a full-time job and writing in the wee hours of the morning when the house is quiet, or whenever quiet time happens to be. For those who choose writing as a hobby, writing may not be on the daily agenda.
However, if you want to be a professional writer, you’ll need to be productive.
“You resign yourself to writing lots and lots of rubbish. You just got to write that out of your system and sooner or later you will hit what you should be doing.”
— J. K. Rowling
According to Psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., maintaining a route helps keep us grounded. Make a schedule that works for you.
“I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare.
"When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten. I do pushups and sit ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not.”
How much can you realistically write every day? If it is around 200–400, no worries! Set the goal, but stick to it. Value consistency over quantity. Stick to your daily word count for as long as necessary. Eventually, you will be able to write 1000–2000 words or more each day. Practice will get you there.
Just like being on a diet, there will be writing cheat days. Accept that fact of writing life. Although you may not be writing, these days can still be productive.
Here are the sleep routines of a few fine writers.
Each writer followed their specific sleep routine. Sleep is critical for your mental health and creative voice.
What do you do when your muse stops talking? Do you keep a routine for writing?
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Author, speaker, and former teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has written non-fiction for parents, and The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon chapter book series with stories encouraging the development of empathy—sprinkling humor wherever possible. Her Works In Progress are The Hobo Code, YA historical fiction and Crystal Memories, MG Magical Realism/ Sci-Fi.
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