Muses

The notion of muses comes to us from the ancient Greeks. For them, the muses were nine beautiful women who inspired (male) artists, writers, poets, playwrights and so forth, enabling their creativity. For a long time, Inspiration was female and otherworldly, while Artists were human males. In this context, human females do not get to be Artists, at best they are artisans. Fortunately the world has moved on!

 Many writers talk about ‘their muse’ – it’s a word I see used a great deal in blog posts and on egroups. For some, the muse has a definite personality, gender, style etc. For others is a vague, amorphous thing, the word expressing a mysterious, unpredictable source of creativity. I have no idea how many creative folk style their muse as a distinct, separate and supernatural entity, how many use the word metaphorically, and how many have other takes. (Please do leave a comment about how it is for you!)

Is the source of your inspiration separate from you, or do you see it as inherent within yourself? This is a vitally important question to explore for understanding the underpinnings of your own creativity. How do your source inspiration? Is it random neurones firing in your brain? Is it a process you consciously go through? Is it mysterious and beyond your control? Does inspiration come to you from divine sources, from nature, a muse, or something else? Is it your own voice you hear when you are creating, or are you channelling something? I suspect there are different answers for everyone, and that’s fine. The important thing is to find out what the answer is for you.

Why? Because whatever your muse is, you are in relationship with it, and that’s a  two sided thing. Even if you feel your inspiration comes from inside you, that’s not a resource you can draw on infinitely without giving anything back. There must be balance, reciprocation and honour. I’m going to talk in more detail in the next blog about nourishing your inspiration but for now, let’s focus on the muse.

Taking the broadest definition, a muse is something that opens you to inspiration. The world around us is full of ideas, stories, experiences, beauty and wonders. There is so much to draw on, and yet many people are, creatively, in famine not feast. Without the means to be open to what is there, it’s very hard to draw on the richness that might nourish us. So, the first step is to find the key, or keys to your own creativity.

Sometimes an idea will just pop into your head. That won’t be as random an event as it first looked. Something will have triggered it. When you have a good idea (about anything) try and spot what sparked it. Had you just been for a walk? Were you taking some quiet time? Had you just read a good book or were you in the middle of a philosophical debate with a friend? Watch for the patterns. If an activity seems to help, repeat it. Try variations on it. This is an ongoing process, you have to do it all the time, and work with it if you want to bring as much inspiration as possible into your life. I find walking is really good. It removes stress, clears my head, and being in the countryside gives me good views, open sky and a lightness of heart that opens the way to good creativity. I also find sharing ideas with my partner Tom and playing them out between us makes me more creative, and we feed on each other’s vision. A good book, a long soak in the bath – these things all work for me. Most people will find there are plenty of things that help them too.

Find your muse, in whatever form it takes, and spend time with it. Then, when the ideas pop into your head, give them time. Explore them, play with them, let them sprout, mutate, expand and contract. If you ignore your creativity, and discard wild ideas that come to you, then you cut off your own source of inspiration. Listen to the muse when it speaks to you, and it will keep talking.

3 thoughts on “Muses”

  1. I’ve always joked about my muses since I started writing. So many things inspire me it’s hard to narrow down. One night a friend asked me when we’d had a bit too much wine and it was 2 am the question.

    If you’re muse was a physical being what would it look like?

    I told her that they were two beautiful and ethereal male fey-like beings with gossamer wings that they used to flutter about my apartment and get into mischief. One is dark and one in is pale, and they are both a pain in my ass. They have a pet as well, a small fox with huge ears that changes colors like a mood ring. 😀

    My friends always know when my muses decide to fly the coop. I tell them the same thing every time: They’ve flown off to Tijuana and are eating chocolate and swimming in a fountain of golden tequila. The Pup as I have nicknamed their pet never truly leaves my side often rolling her eyes at the fluttering winged ones. My darling Pup was there first so perhaps they are her pets. 😀

    I’ve always felt she was my spirit animal because everywhere I go the image of the fox has followed. Thus my nom de plume.

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  2. I’ve just found your site recently and you have a wealth of information and great posts.

    My Muse….ah well…..I’ve often thought of my Muse as female, but don’t really know for sure. Though they haven’t been offended far as I can tell when I refer to them as ‘she’. I’ve often envisioned my Muse as elf like. Fair of skin, silvery hair.
    ‘She’ used to talk to me quite often chattering so much I couldn’t keep up with all the ideas ‘she’ was tossing out at me. But a little over 3 years ago, my Muse grew silent after I suffered a great loss. I’ve been joking that ‘she’s’ been on a very long vacation in Tahiti. Sometime I’ll hear ‘her’ teasing me from beyond the woods that I must pass some times. Calling to me to give chase and catch ‘her’. Other times I feel like ‘she’s’ fallen into a deep slumber and I don’t know how to wake ‘her’.
    I miss my Muse dearly, and long for ‘her’ to return with ‘her’ incessant chatter.

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