We Are Not Amused

– ‘Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! Said my muse to me, look in thy heart and write.’ – Philip Sidney

muse-on-beach-finished It’s Monday morning, it’s raining, it’s cold, and I’m sitting at my desk with a blank screen on my PC and a blank look on my face. I wait in vain for inspiration to come and grab me by the… imagination. Where is my muse when I need him the most? Probably sitting on a beach somewhere, topping up his suntan and watching the world go by while I sit here abandoned and all alone.

So what to do on those days when you’re struggling to write anything at all? Perhaps this piece of advice from Dorothea Brande might help. First off, try getting up a little earlier than normal and begin writing as soon as possible. Don’t talk, don’t read anything, just write down the first thing that comes into your head. It might be last night’s dream, or perhaps a conversation from yesterday, but get it down on paper. Write rapidly and without giving any attention to the value of what you are writing. This is a training exercise in writing in the twilight zone between sleep and the full waking state. Forget that you have any critical facility. The unconscious mind is in the ascendant, so leave it free to rise.

I’ve found this advice from Dorothea Brande extremely helpful on those cold, dark mornings whilst working on my series of mystery thrillers involving a reluctant private investigator called Ben Whittle. It truly does help to get the creative juices flowing. Dorothea’s excellent book is called Becoming a Writer. It was first published in 1934 and is still available now to buy on Amazon now.

What do you do to drag your muse back form the beach? Perhaps you go for a nice long walk, or go and do something completely different. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear from you.

All the best,



11 thoughts on “We Are Not Amused

  1. I suppose that’s the crux of my problem…I never feel confident enough to go ‘drag’ my muse back from wherever it is relaxing. I get stuck, blame myself, get frustrated and discuss giving up on myself until my Muse gets so fed up with me that it comes stomping back to rub my nose in the puddle that is my pity party.

    I still need to work on my inner confidence as a writer!

  2. Variation has always been key for me. Writing in a new place, whether that be me physically or a different program on my computer, finding a new goal – like switching from word count to page count to a time – changing fonts, changing my socks, changing my outfit, etc.

    And sometimes that’s just a whole bunch of procrastination and I end up having to tell myself knock it off.

  3. I seem to be able to blog at the moment, but for anything else the chap on the beach won’t help at all – he’s got an iPad and is hooked up to Facebook- again! You’re right I’ll have to mug him while he’s half asleep!

    • Hi David,

      I know what you mean. Some days I’m too easily distracted and don’t get much writing done. I never try to force it though – that just creates more to edit later!

  4. Hi Mark

    There is something to be said for just going for it. One of the joys of NOT using paper, pen or typewriter is that you can always go back and edit…..and edit….you might end up rejecting it but still keep it – some of my best blog stories have come from fragments that on paper may well have ended up in the hearth!

    • Hi Ian,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with you. There are days that I do just go for it. I then also look back and wonder what happened! Most of the time there are parts I’ll keep and put them in the ‘might be useful in the future’ pile.
      Just took a look at your blog by the way. Will read through it properly soon, it looks amusing.


  5. in The Sound of Paper: Starting From Scratch When we are engaged in the cetirave process, we are engaged with higher forces. Mysterious forms and forces seek entrance through us, and we had best cooperate. Sounds like a veiled threat, but the reality is, if writers fail to submit to the magic of their calling, if they will not allow mysterious forms and forces entrance into this world through their writing, there are consequences, particularly for their mental health. To deny our vocation can only lead to misery.The universe has called us. We are conduits giving voice and form to a world unseen. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

    • Hi Meyat,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you about writing being a calling – but I’m already mad!


    • For all those who don’t understand Chinese I believe this comment says ‘carefully read it, expressed support!’.
      Thank you for reading and your support, it is appreciated.

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