Skip to main content

How to find your muse

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.

Reverse psychology

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia; despite Ethiopia's defeat in 1936, the nation ultimately retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Raymond Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36) The Victorian English spelli

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House . Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity. Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be

The ‘prostitute with a gun’ was a middle-class high school girl

On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher, a 17-year-old high school student in Long Island, N.Y., rang the bell at the home of 37-year-old Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Buttafuoco stepped onto her front porch and had a brief conversation with the girl, whom she had never met before. Fisher then shot her in the face and fled the scene. Neighbors heard the shot and rushed to Buttafuoco's aid. She regained consciousness the next day in a hospital and was able to recall the conversation with her attacker. This information helped police to promptly identify and arrest Fisher. Fisher's explanation of her action shocked the nation. She claimed that she had been lovers with her victim's husband, Joey Buttafuoco, 36, since the previous summer when she was still only 16. While those who knew Buttafuoco believed him to be a pillar of the community, Fisher said he perpetrated auto theft scams. She claimed he introduced her to a life of prostitution, such that she wore a beeper to her high school classes an