While my Mojo is off backpacking around South America, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder on writer’s block and fickle muses. You see, in order to be successful writers, we must sometimes stomp and set fire to the notion that we can only write well when inspired.
Based on the inspiration/perspiration formula, muse participation equals less than 1% of the equation. I’m not saying that muses are completely useless, please understand. After all, 50 hours of slogging solo over a few paragraphs cannot compare to one moment of divine inspiration, but when it doesn’t happen, what is a poor writer to do?
We beg, we pray, we pledge our souls and first born. We make promises, chant mantras: I will make my word count, I will make my deadline, I will not waste precious time reading other people’s blogs. I will not spend empty hours at starbucks, drinking chai lattes and listening to jazz samplers. I will not spend time commiserating with other equally blocked writers.
We make more promises: I will stop smoking, drinking, swearing, day dreaming, eating cheesy fries, but nothing works.
Maybe what is needed is one of those bat-signals that Gotham City uses to contact Batman.
Even better, why not fire our incompetent muses? After all, if they were doing their jobs, we wouldn’t be swearing off the cheesy fries. There must be a temp pool somewhere where you can get a slightly used muse – good as new on eBay. It has to be better than relying endlessly on a flighty, high maintenance, motivational being that takes off without giving you the courtesy of a two-week notice.
As far as I’m concerned, muses are only good for one thing: keeping the dreaded writer’s block at bay. WB are the two little words that can reduce an experienced writer to tears. More feared than death, taxes or bad reviews, when WB hits it is like a dark vortex. It sucks you up into its ugly path of destruction and spits you out along with the obligatory cow and 18 wheeler.
In the blink of an eye you go from confident able writer to uncreative cockroach.
1. Wake up to horrible realisation that everything is futile.
2. What was easy before is now a challenge. Everything you attempt is rubbish, every idea banal.
3. Erase and start again with same results. What was a challenge before is now impossible.
4. Crumble pages, delete file, curse computer, hit head on keyboard. You find you spent the last hour typing: I am useless, useless useless useless.
5. You spend far too much time googling famous writers who suffered from writer’s block. Read about Joyce Carol Oats and her impressive prolific career. Feel sick. Read about James Joyce and his 7 words a day. Feel momentarily better.
6. You are too depressed to lift your eyelids.7. The D group (despair, disillusionment, depression) enters, while the C group (cockiness, confidence, creativity) exits stage left.
8. You give up writing and start playing Mah Jong.
9. What was impossible seems not so bad in comparison to your present level of utter wretchedness.
10. Wake up one morning in full cockroach costume. Metamorphosis is complete, you are now a useless bug with the biggest case of WB on the planet.
So what to do when the dreaded WB strikes? Not much I’m afraid. Grit your teeth and wait it out, or curse your muse for not coming to your rescue. Remember, if you only wrote on the days you felt inspired, you’d have nothing but a few sheets of clever ideas. The more we think we need muses, the more dependent we are on them.