A blank page.
There’s nothing more terrifying for a writer. Not an actual blank page, of course, but a Word Document with no words on it, that mysterious absence of words that is amplified by us staring at the white screen of death for so long that we feel our brains exploding.
You think and think and think, but nothing is happening, no matter how hard you try.
It makes you feel… powerless. Frustrated. Angry. Sad. Bitter. Sure, it’s your mind, your thoughts, your words, but there’s a bit of magic to writing, like Tinkerbell sprinkling lost boys with pixie dust and enabling them to fly.
No amount of happy thoughts will help you fly without the pixie dust. You need that extra bit of magic, that spark that makes your words take flight.
Where does that magic come from?
Well, from your blogging muse, of course.
Are your words truly yours?
Consider the following:
- You can’t always write when you want to
- Good ideas for posts randomly come to you
- You can’t control when they do that
- When you’re in the flow, it feels almost magical
- Afterwards, it seems like someone else wrote it
Put all of those clues together, and you might begin to think that there’s a fairy on your shoulder, whispering words in your ear and filling your head with brilliant ideas. And you wouldn’t be alone. Many famous writers describe their best writing as coming from somewhere else, and they invented the idea of a muse centuries ago.
For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can. – Ernest Hemingway
Of course, it’s just a case of not understanding the creative process, how it works, how our neurons facilitate creativity.
But understanding how creativity works isn’t the same as making it work. From a practical standpoint, pretending there’s a muse you need to coerce into helping you write is probably more effective, even though it is fanciful.
All bloggers have muses
For most of us, the term “muse” conjures visions of ancient poets that looked to goddesses like Aphrodite for inspiration. Or it might remind you of the hopeless romantic who finally writes a masterpiece to impress the woman of his dreams.
While both are true, I suppose, they’re not very helpful to bloggers. For one, the traditional view is sexist—not all writers are men—and two, it’s a romantic interpretation that’s hard to connect with when sitting alone in front of a computer screen.
The better interpretation is that your muse is that little voice inside your head, the originator of your best ideas, and your constant writing companion. It’s a part of yourself that “turns on” when you’re in your most creative moment, allowing you to write that fantastic post that elicits hundreds of comments from your readers.
You muse is also kind of weird. It wanders off when you sit down to write a post, directs your attention to certain topics that have nothing to do with your readership, and thinks it’s funny to give you ideas that are offensive and embarrassing.
It’s also a creature that you can master, and if you’re serious about blogging, it’s essential that you learn how.
Control your muse
To be able to keep up the pace and produce high quality content on a consistent basis, you have to learn to manage your creative process. You have to master your muse., so to speak.
Otherwise, you’ll burn out and stop blogging. It might have already happened to you.
Similarly, the benefits of controlling your muse are well worth the effort:
- You’ll be able to write remarkable content
- Write anytime, anywhere
- Create results for your blog that you can only describe as magic
I’ve by no means achieved absolute mastery of my muse, but I write at least four posts every day, without fail. A few thousand words each and every day.
What does your muse need?
In order to have a good working relationship with your muse, you must understand what it needs in order to be happy.
Well, she needs one of two things:
That’s it, pretty much.
This is not magic. It’s a simple process. You need to feed your brain. That’s it.
I listen every day to motivational speeches and such. I also watch seminars and such. I also read on a daily basis, both fiction and non-fiction.
I use three of my senses to get as much food for my brain as possible.
I also try to live, and this is a part of the creative process that most people tend to neglect.
You cannot create something out of nothing. Ideas don’t just magically appear out of thin air. You need to go out there and try things, step outside your comfort zone, talk to people, be a douchebag, get your heart broken. Stuff like that.
The more experience, the more memories, the more ideas to write on.
Deadlines work because we tend to procrastinate until the very last moment. Then we panic and work like crazy.
Desperation is one of the most powerful motivating factors.
When you set yourself deadlines and you must stick to them, then it’s important to write. You won’t sit around wondering if you’re feeling inspired or not.
You work, no matter what.
“writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.” ― Charles Bukowski
The power of habits
We’re creatures of habit. So much so that is feels almost impossible to break out of one once created.
While goal setting is essential, I’d also recommend focusing on creating a habit out of blogging.
Sit down every day to write for your blog. You don’t have to publish it. Just write. Develop the habit to take the time out of your busy schedule so you write something.
The muse kind of likes it when someone is perseverant, and stubborn, and disciplined enough to always show up, no matter what.