Are you artistically "blocked"? The majority of frustrated artists have simply lost contact with their muse, the sublime inner voice of inspiration. Here is a twelve-step guide on how to find your muse and wrap her around your little finger.
The creation story begins with separation. So does all philosophical inquiry worth its salt. You can't find anything until you've defined what you're looking for.
Choose the tools you need to find this wayward lady muse. Your technology will be specific to the muse in question. For example, if you were searching for any of the following things, you'd need the special search tool indicated.
- the Loch Ness Monster: sonar
- the Yeti: snowshoes
- pennies on the beach: a metal detector
- your lover's secret lover: tracking by the phone company
- an old newspaper article: library microfiche
- an answer to a problem: a weeklong vacation
- a lost cat: posters on utility poles
- a missing cordless phone: its pager
- the burst Christmas lightbulb that interrupts the whole circuit: process of elimination
- a certain brand of fruit juice: customer service
- a crashed kite: the end of a tangled string
- the names of the Seven Dwarves: persistent recitation
- love: craigslist
Cognitive scientists have demonstrated that you can find something faster if you are certain it's there to be found. Your next step is to believe you have a muse who's waiting to reveal herself to you.
Echo / Antiphon
Say whatever you please, first in your own voice, then imitating the voice of your muse. This will annoy her enough to come out of hiding and talk back. Surprise! When she answers you, she'll say something you could never have thought up yourself. That's how you'll know it's her.
Play hard to get
Now that she's planted her fingers on your hips, think happy thoughts about something you've always wanted - aside from your muse.
Lust and the identity of desire
Who or what inside you desires a muse? What, for that matter, does your muse see in you?
This may come as a staggering revelation, but it is not by luck alone that your muse finds her way through your haunted forests - she is part of you.
You are what you eat
Speaking of which, what have you eaten lately?
Exomologesis of scrumping
Make a formal confession of the wrong paths down which you've galumphed; eating pears that weren't yours while you were supposed to be searching for a missing lady.
Disabuse yourself of the notion that your muse cares about you or your work. She doesn't.
Be a headshrinker to your muse. If she's been silent for a long time, chances are she's felt isolated and needs professional help.
Prepare your mind and body to receive your muse with a sacrificial offering. This cleansing has a double meaning: for thousands of years, roasting animal sacrifices dripped fat onto ashes, making soap. Thus, if you cannot sacrifice, at least take a shower.
These twelve steps virtually guarantee that you will find your muse. If you do all these things and she still isn't yours for keeps, face facts: she ran off to Vegas and married someone else. Get over her, and write your book by yourself.
Originally posted to Helium Network on May 26, 2010.
Image by D. J. Shin. Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Wikimedia Commons.