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.