Do you need a Muse?
A personified force who is the source of your creative inspiration?
I used to think I did. That was until I joined the ranks of published authors and reality set in. Reality spelled: DEADLINE!
If becoming a published author was easy, we’d all write a 70,000+ word book, right? Maybe more. One word after the other. One chapter at time. One inspirational moment after another.
No, wait! I must edit and kill some of my little darlings? Your word count goes backward. The word count thing can get daunting.
But I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, so when my muse doesn’t show up, I can.
One discovery was Allie Pleiter’s “The Chunky Method Handbook.” I took her workshop and bought the book. Following her advice, I had a finished manuscript seven months later. Clarification, first draft. But that’s the goal of her process. Words on the page.
The method is brilliant and simple. I won’t give away her secrets, but the premise proposes we all have an approximate number of words we can string together to make coherent sense, at any given sitting, facing minimum interruptions. The book will help you figure that out.
Once you have that number, mine is approximately 1400, words, you find most of what you write after your “chunk” isn’t worth your editor’s time. Nothing will motive a writer more than the wrath of their editor.
But my favorite replacement for an absent muse is one if found during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Writing sprints.
Physical endurance required? Yes, there’s some racing involved, but you stay in one place. Get your “arse” in the chair and compete for words on the page. To my chagrin, this exercise in my seat, writing on a timed prompt with others, was a motivator for me. This isn’t rocket science, or anything really new. It may come down to an old fashioned premise that we’re all a little competitive. And when my local RWA Chapter group organized three weekly evening writing sprints via our Facebook group, I decided to give the exercise a try and flex my writing muscles.
For those who want to replicate this, here are the details. We start at 7:00pm and write for 20 minutes. A moderator keeps time and posts when we start and stop. Once the timed session is up, we all count our words and report back to the Facebook group. The high performers average in the 400-500 word count range per sprint. And everybody wins because the prize is words on the page.
In our group it’s not required we race in all four sprints over our two hour meet. We take 10 minutes in between for necessities, family needs, getting a snack, or just sharing memes. You can jump in late, leave early. You can join in for just one day or all of the sprints. There’s no cost or penalty, just the reward going the distance when it’s difficult to even start the race.
When your muse has taken the day off, writing can feel like running a marathon. If yours has checked out, or has better things to do, consider one of these tools or tricks. You don’t need a chapter group for your writing sprints, just another person to keep your time and accountability.
Social distancing has taken its toll on many of us, encourage each other and let’s continue to stay connected.
Check out Marisa Dillon’s The Ladies of Lore Historical Romance trilogy from Soul Mate Publishing available in print or eBook on Amazon.