Traditional Publishing

Boost creativity by befriending your muse

By Molli Nickell – Saturday April 26, 2008

The harsh reality about making the transition from wannabe to published author is that you actually have to complete your manuscript. No agent or editor is going to perform a lobotomy to extract your words as they slumber, unwritten, between your ears. To assist you in transforming what you want to write into a book or magazine manuscript, consider enlisting the aid of your muse.

According to the Greeks (the culture which gave the world the Olympics, Zorba the Greek, and toga parties), everyone has a “muse” available to assist in any creative endeavour, be it writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, dancing, etc. You already may be familiar with your muse, but recognise it as your inner self, creative self, higher self, subconscious, or inner child. Regardless of how you label it, incorporating this powerful and inspirational force will enhance your creativity and keep you moving forward on the path to becoming a published author. Follow these four, simple steps.

First, trust that you really truly have a muse.

Second, be willing to ask your muse for help. How? Just ask. (Duh!) You might say something like: “Thank you muse, for helping me complete my manuscript. Your presence and assistance are appreciated.”

Third, make a BIC commitment, meaning, putting your Butt In the Chair to write – same time, same place – on a schedule that works for you. This proves to you and your muse that you’re serious about writing. You’re not just flapping your gums (and boring people) when you talk about this wonderful book or article or whatever you’re going to write someday when you have time. Despite job, car pool, kids, soccer practice, home care, shopping, working out, yoga, etc. you can make the time to bring your words to life.

How does this commitment business work? For starters, set your alarm 15 or 30 or 45 minutes ahead of your usual crawling-out-of-bed time. Be comfy in bathrobe or sweats and head for your writing place, plunk yourself down, and write. No distractions. Bathroom breaks are OK, but do not pass GO, prepare coffee, tidy up the kitchen, or run around the block first. The point is to remain, as much as possible, in the alpha state (dreamy and not fully awake) to open your receptive pathway so ideas can zip into your mind, travel through your fingers and emerge on the screen (or paper).

Maybe morning isn’t your best time. Fine. Pick another. Instead of watching mindlessly violent TV programs (like the evening news), use that time to commune with your muse and write. It’s not important whether your “same time” is AM or PM. What matters is that you consistently sit down at your chosen time, invite your muse to be with you, and write.

Start out easy. You’re acquiring a new skill. How about giving yourself thirty minutes a day? That’s doable. Thirty minutes a day, six days a week, add up to twelve hours a month – a healthy chunk of writing time.

Fourth, read what you wrote during your last writing session before you go to bed. Be thinking about that as you drift off into dreamland. This way, you and your muse (also “on call” when you’re sleeping) will be up to snuff and champing at the bit to continue writing the next day.

It’s simple. Invite your muse to become part of your writing life, put your butt in the chair, same time/same place, and enjoy the resulting creative boost. Keep in mind that any culture brilliant enough to have given the world big fat weddings and big fat buildings (the Pantheon) obviously knows the big fat secret to boosting creativity.

From Nike, the Greek goddess of victory... GO FOR IT!

About the Author

Molli Nickell, five-times published author, former publisher and Time-Life editor, helps writers learn to shift from "telling" to "selling" – a vital step in writing effective marketing documents. She teaches how to craft effective, sales-oriented queries and proposals that generate the coveted response of, "Yes, please submit your manuscript." Her website,, offers insider information on what agents/editors/publishers want, critiqued query letters to study, and, FREE query evaluations (no kidding, they're free!).