Don’t Let Your Muse be a Prima Donna

Granted, there’s nothing particularly sexy about the image here, but that’s exactly the point I hope to make today. I have plenty of writing mistakes behind me, and, no doubt, I’ll probably have more ahead of me, but my biggest mistake, by far, has to have been my slow recognition of how to live with a flighty muse.

I fell in love with words and books as a little kid, and the magic holds as much of a spell on me as it ever did. Even now, watching the letters group up into words and the words into sentences on this page pleases my eyes and settles my soul; only now I know there is nothing mysterious about the magic! I once thought of my muse as this elusive creature who must be cajoled into making an appearance. I had to attend to her every need with just the right coffee/surroundings/writing pad, etc.  Otherwise, like some spoiled prima donna, she might get offended and disappear as quickly as she arrived. There’s a good country word for that sort of thing: bologna!

If I might digress a moment to a much more important subject, I’ll use my last breath on this green earth helping my fellow believers understand that this same principle is applicable to our life in Christ Jesus. I believe it’s vain to wait on some supernatural hunger for God’s word and His fellowship in prayer to bonk us all on the head and propel us to our quiet places. And yet, I know that when we bend our will to His and seek Him diligently, He meets us and begins forming those very desires within us. Now, THAT is good news, any which way you slice it. And now, back to your regularly scheduled writing post.

My muse wears work clothes. She has to, y’all. Deadlines call from every corner. Oh, yes, I love words and writing as much as ever, the process will always feed my soul. But if I were waiting on a flighty muse to show up and perform, I’d be dead in the water.

Like so much else in this life, I’ve found that success comes when one foot, or word in our case, is placed in front of the other, time and time again. I can’t get the hours back that I’ve wasted in the past, waiting on my muse to show up and perform, but that’s okay. Experience is, after all, a mighty fine teacher. I may have stumbled towards the understanding, but I’ve learned that my muse, she is me. I’ve taken the power back, and it feels good. Who knows, if she’s good, I may even treat her to a caramel macchiato!

Do you wait for inspiration, or do you start without it?

25 Replies to “Don’t Let Your Muse be a Prima Donna”

  1. Shellie—love your workgear!! Now if I could just have seen you in those gorgeous threads!! To answer your good question, I don’t wait for inspiration. I go out with bow and gun and butterfly net. In short—I hunt. And when I’m not hunting, I’m skinning and cutting up the game and packaging it (sorry, I’m out at fishcamp where I’m surrounded by wild animals.) With all of creation imbued with mystery and meaning, we have only to put our boots on and arm ourselves to find it. Thank you for this post! And of course we should all hike on those coveralls as we head out!

    1. Hey Leslie! I’d love to take a road trip to your place for inspiration. I live in farming community on the bank of beautiful Lake Providence so I have abundance of God’s nature around me but I’d like to check out that landscape of yours, too!

  2. I’ve started without my muse and have experienced both great success and utter failure. Tried to start a new novel this month but it’s just not cooking and my muse has apparently left for parts unknown. Tried writing through it, but it just isn’t working. I’m going to have to try a different approach, whenever I figure out what that is, exactly. 😎

  3. I love this post! I feel like sometimes I wait around for my muse, or some sort of inspiration to hit, when really, I should be able to just pull it from within!

  4. Hi Shellie. I agree. We’re not slaves to our muse; we need to put it in its place and let it know who’s boss. That said, our muse is like the sail on a boat. When it catches the wind, we need to be ready to go with it. That wind is a great gift to propel us forward. Sometimes, usually first thing in the morning or after reading/hearing something inspiring, I think, “Oh, I’ll go with that later.” And the boat will sail. Just not maybe as fast as it might have sailed if I’d… (shall we say?) gone with the wind.

    1. OH, been there! Learning to catch the wave is crucial too, isn’t it. Cheryl, I have a file in my smart phone (the thing that’s always w/me lest I break out in hives. *geesh!*) to capture those flightly muse moments if they catch me when I can’t catch them! Have you tried that?

  5. I’m thankful for the many posts that come from your friends @ WordServe, but I have to tell you your muse post spoke straight to my heart and awakened my soul. Truth, spoken with honest humility. Thank you for serving it up and prodding this one on!


  6. I’m thankful for the many posts from your friends at WordServe. Your muse post spoke to my waiting heart and awakened my soul like never before. Thank you for speaking the truth in love and gracious authenticity.


  7. Great post Shellie. Thank you for the gentle reminder and for your authentic, passionate delivery.

  8. my muse can’t be the prima donna because i’m the prima donna, er, primo don. the real secret is that i am my own muse. it’s just that writing comes from such a deep place within us that it sometimes seems as if it comes from without.

  9. I learned not to wait for my muse when I was working as a writer and graphic designer. Multiple clients had multiple deadlines, and they didn’t care if your muse showed up or not–they just wanted good material on time. So, you write when you don’t feel like writing, and you design when you don’t feel like designing. And you can work yourself into it.
    I also remember my mother telling me, “Pray until you feel like praying.” And the Nike ad, “Just do it.”
    There’s lessons there for every area of our lives.

  10. I have a very good relationship with my muse. Very good. It’s my characters who pout if I don’t get their story correct the first time. And go on strike. Sheesh!

  11. Wonderful post!!! I know so many people who love thinking about, dreaming about, talking about, taking classes about… writing. Then there are those who just put in the time and “get ‘er done.” They also learn to handle rejection, accept critique, and work hard until they get it right. I see this in spirituality too. People who talk and discuss and contemplate theology, but don’t just dive in and talk to God, or try to let Him love somebody else through them today.

  12. Look, I think you should treat her to that Caramel Macchiato. Had myself a Cookie Crumble Frappucino yesterday with a great writing friend, and it’s amazing just how much your muse comes back when you treat them well! 😉 All kidding aside, though, I appreciated your little parenthetical statement:

    I believe it’s vain to wait on some supernatural hunger for God’s word and His fellowship in prayer to bonk us all on the head and propel us to our quiet places. And yet, I know that when we bend our will to His and seek Him diligently, He meets us and begins forming those very desires within us. Well said and a fantastic reminder! Great post ~ thank you for sharing it.

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