Friday, October 02, 2009

When The Muse Won't Come Out To Play

One of the things I miss most about being an unpublished writer is that I could pretty much dance when my muse said to, and sit on the sidelines when she remained silent. I know there are many, many people out there who disdain that, but my muse is pretty active so it was rare for me to not write for more than a couple of days, and I always found that this little mini-break from the story served me well by giving my subconscious time to figure stuff out. In fact, this works so well for me that even still I tend to think in terms of weekly output and set weekly page goals rather than daily.

But now that I'm published, I have, you know, deadlines, and professional expectations I need to meet. Which means that even though story A may be screaming at me, agents and editors might have other plans or publishing needs for story B . Which is very, very thrilling, don't get me wrong, but since my muse is totally right brained, she doesn't see it this way. Very spoiled and demanding, is my muse. I found out just how much so when on a walk this morning I happened to listen to a song on my dark medieval YA's playlist. Oh my god. My muse immediately got all aroused and began pining for this project in the worst way. I imagine it was how Juliet felt about Romeo. Very distracting.

Only problem is, I canNOT work on that right now. Between the presentation for my upcoming two week stint of school visits in Texas and the impending deadline for Theodosia Four, I simply have other projects.

However, I also apparently drained my battery way below critical levels, because I am still not being able to jump start things like I normally can. In fact, I had to laugh yesterday when I got my Daily OM, which said:

Your energy may be low from working too much, and this could leave you feeling tired today. Perhaps you feel that without you your work would not get done, and as a result you have pushed yourself to your physical limits.

I tend to think of exhaustion as a physical thing, so I forget that we can do this mentally and creatively, as well. I also wonder if that's why my wrists gave out. Our bodies are very good at sending us messages, which we then ignore at our own peril.

So I am going to do something a little daring and scary for me: I'm going to give myself permission to not write for the next four weeks (two of which will be an insanely busy school visit trip, so I'm only loosing two weeks working time, but still.) Yep, even though I have a deadline in five months. I'm going to trust my muse here, and listen to her. An old boss of mine used to have a saying about needing to "dance with the one that brought you." Well, my muse has gotten me where I am today, so I need to remember to trust her. So for the next month I am simply going to journal any ideas that occur to me for Theo 4, putter with an outline, do some research every day, and work on my school presentations.

Then I'm going to hope my muse will become so restless from all that down time, that come Nov. 1 she will come out with both barrels blazing. (Am I the only one having fun with the mental picture that brings? A filmy, airy muse sporting two pistols?)

The other thing is that I will be coming off a two week immersion in kids, something that is always energizing, uplifting, and full of revelations. (Okay, and exhausting when done in huge quantities.)

I might even consider signing up for NaNoWriMo, just for the absolute focus it brings. We'll see.

Warning: Do not try this at home unless your muse is a proven producer and has demonstrated a high level of dedication in the past. :-)


Deva Fagan said...

Good luck with your time off! It sounds like your muse knows what she wants, so I hope it will be a good break for both of you.

I almost always take off at least a month in between projects, to refill the creative well and refocus. I'm actually doing that now myself, and am also considering doing NaNoWriMo to get myself jumpstarted when I come back. Let us know if you sign up! I will cheer you on!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Deva, I think that month off between projects is a great idea. I need to be planning for that when I set up my year's writing schedule.

And I will definitely let you know about NaNoWriMo!

Sherrie Petersen said...

I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year, too. It's a great challenge!