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Writers, abandon your muses – they’re a work of fiction!

The muse concept is still going strong. Writers often cite their muse, or lack of one, when they’re struggling to write. But I’m not having it.

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
2 min read
Writers, abandon your muses – they’re a work of fiction!
Photo by Cathryn Lavery / Unsplash

This first (proper) post is something of a mission statement. You see, I don’t believe in the concept of the muse. The idea is a complete myth. I mean literally, it is. Wikipedia told me so:

In Greek mythology, the Muses … embody the arts and inspire the creation process with their graces through remembered and improvised song and stage, writing, traditional music, and dance.

The muse concept is still going strong.  Writers often cite their muse, or lack of one, when they’re struggling to write. But I’m not having it.

To me, the muse is a nonsense-notion spouted by writers, artists and other creative types who want to give their procrastinating a fancy name.

Excuses, excuses

Here’s the sort of claptrap they come out with:

‘I wanted to write, but my muse deserted me.’

No, you wanted to write, but Strictly Come Dancing* was about to start and that sounded like more fun and less work.

‘I couldn’t possibly write as my muse wasn’t working.’

Rubbish. The ideas didn’t come easily, so you started thinking about what to have for lunch and whether to go downstairs for another cup of coffee.

And you know what? That’s just fine.

If your mind’s not on it or you can’t find the words, it’s okay to walk away. Don’t write. Accept that sometimes you’re not going to have the motivation or the sparkling ideas and do something else instead. Anything. So long as it’s legal.

How writing really works

Let’s get one thing clear: there’s no celestial literary overlord hovering above your brain-box, all dressed up like Big Willy Shakespeare, throwing ideas into your head via your ear holes.

The truth is, sometimes you’ll feel like writing, sometimes you won’t. One day the ideas will be there, the next you’ll feel like you haven’t a creative bone in your body. At times, you’ll have all day to write, at others you’ll go a month and not put pen to paper.

If you take nothing else from reading this blog, please remember that writing is a process. It’s almost entirely nuts and bolts, with the occasional flash of inspiration that keeps you, and your readers, coming back for more.

But here’s the important bit. That inspiration comes from you. No one else.

Those occasional moments of literary, journalistic or blogging brilliance are entirely your own. So, for crying out loud, make sure that you take the credit. Enjoy them. They’re why you write. Not to satisfy your fictional muse.

You see, the muse is nothing but a writer’s luxury. It’s a non-truth. An excuse for not getting things done or for simply trying too hard. Accept that and you’ll write more frequently and with greater freedom. I promise.

* dancing with the stars if you’re from the US and barely-famous people dancing on television if you’re from anywhere else.

Are you ready to get rid of your muse?

Do you need an ethereal being nearby to help you write effectively? Can you walk away when you’re suffering from a bout of brain-block? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.


Iain Broome Twitter

I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.

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