Muse versus Inner Critic
by B.D. Tharp
I believe that every author has a “muse” (a source of inspiration and an “inner critic” (one who expresses judgments of merit or faults with regard to artistic or literary work). We are generally our own worst critic and doubt our abilities or declare ourselves incapable of creating something worthwhile. (Confidence, why do you elude us?) We also can inspire ourselves as well as others. Both the muse and inner critic serve a valuable purpose, but for them to be effective there must be a balance. (Do I hear dueling banjos?)
During a writer’s retreat I attended years ago our leader said we should each bring something that represented our “inner critic”. When we got to the hotel we were told to put them in a black garbage bag during the workshops until the last day when they would be returned to us. I drew a picture of a Sesame Street monster and he went away for four days and didn’t bug me. It was a great ritual that helped me forget about it for a while. When I’m home I do something similar, by putting it in a drawer – out of sight.
(One of the other writer’s in the group brought one of those squishy stress dolls that you squeeze and it’s eyes and ears pop out from the body. That one was really great.)
Lately, I haven’t felt very inspired. My muse just hasn’t been with the program. So, when I won a Smurf with a laptop for a door prize at the KWA Holiday party yesterday I decided right then that it would be my new muse.
My little blue muse is sitting beside my laptop poised and ready to write, while I am writing. It’s like I’m not so alone right now, I have a little writing buddy with me. Silly, I know, but I’ve found that rituals can mean a lot to a creative person. We have our comfortable chair, the favorite pen, maybe a candle burning, soft instrumental music in the background, whatever helps to put you in the frame of mind you need to escape into your story.
I also have some inspirational sayings on my tack board like: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Another writing buddy finds photos in magazines that look like her characters and she tapes them to her wall beside the computer to keep a clear picture in mind. If you haven’t already, find your inspiration and make it a part of your writing process.
Our neighborhood bookstore closed recently and that was where I used to go every weekend to write. The atmosphere was perfect for getting in touch with a literary muse. Books everywhere, readers of all ages and the lattes were great, too. I miss it SO MUCH, but I’ve asked Santa to bring us another. If the used bookstore across the street would add some tables and chairs, and maybe a coffee bar – that could work! Right now, though I’m searching for a new place. Even JK Rowling wrote at the coffee shop, but our closest one is too small to hang out in for hours at a time.
Tell us about what inspires you to write and what you do to combat an over zealous inner critic.