Friday, August 5, 2011

The Epiphany

You know the drill.

You started a story on a whim and the words just flew from your manic fingers onto the screen. In days, you had the makings of a promising beginning. You tell everybody you've got something special, something obsession-worthy. You're not sleeping. You're eating bare minimum. But it's okay because you're an artist! No, better than that: an artiste (pronounced to rhyme with 'beast').

Then one morning you wake up and open your word document.

And stare.

And stare.

And stare. Where the heck did your muse go?

Suddenly the story is complicated. There's subtext to consider and the ending to solidify in a way that doesn't completely spoil the rest of the arc! There's pressure! No!!!

What do you do at this point?

Well, if you're me, you take a break. You read somebody's else's work, published or not. Maybe you read an entire trilogy plus a sequel plus The freaking Maze Runner. And when you aren't reading, you think. (See illustration above.) You go to your thinking spot:

  • the shower
  • your bed
  • the porch swing
  • the sofa
  • favorite cafe
  • a log
  • Mount Sinai
And you think.

Because when you get an epiphany like the one I got last night, it's worth all that brain-busting waiting. Seriously, worth it. And since I spent that time thinking instead of forcing myself to write, I don't have a series of scenes going in the totally wrong direction which I now have to cut. And that feels good.

Had any epiphanies lately? How do you best trigger your writing muse?


  1. I just posted on the same thing today!

    For some reason, this always happens to me when I'm mowing the lawn. I have NO IDEA why. Or when I'm playing Minesweeper.

    Great post!

  2. lol I get my best ideas when doing the dishes or taking a shower. Must be the monotony comboed with the warm water or something :D

  3. Either a movie or playing my guitar. Shower wouls never work - my brain doesn't function at that time.

  4. I write multiple things at once. If I get stumped, I scroll through my documents and see if any of my other muses go 'ooh, pick me! I know what to do now!' Yes, I know people find that ineffective, but I write all day. If it's not one thing, it's another.

  5. Before I went to college, I used to go to my backyard swing and brainstorm every day. I'd return during summer and winter break, and I still do visit it whenever I see my parents. It's just so easy to think when I'm out there.

    Sadly, I don't have anything nearly as good here, but my commute to and from work definitely helps, as well as a long walk around my neighborhood.

  6. Very awesome! I had that epiphany when I was figuring out the plot line of a sequel . . . too bad I won't write it unless (until) I sell that first one.

    But the idea is safely scribbled down where I can quickly get back to it. :)

  7. I think physical activity - going for a walk, swim, swinging, etc. is good because you're pumping extra blood to your brain. And if it doesn't jump start the muse, at least it makes you tired enough to fall asleep instead of staying up pounding your forehead into the keyboard.

  8. For me it is either in bed or on a walk. Either way it is tricky to get the writing down when inspiration hits.


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