How to be a Better Writer: Invite the Muse

How to be a Better Writer: Invite the Muse—Write Right“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou

The work of writing isn’t glamorous. It looks a whole lot like sitting on a chair, staring at a screen, and writing a word, a word, a word. Sometimes the words come easily. They arrive fully formed, and the writer follows them as fast as he or she possibly can.

As the writer gives chases, the words transform into sentences. The sentences turn into full-blown thoughts, characters and setting and plot. Each word, each detail, builds upon and surrounds the others until they seem a flock of doves rising in flight from a dew-drenched field.

Most of the time, though, the words flutter, confused and lost baby doves trying these strange things, these wings. The words struggle and struggle and struggle. They agitate and frustrate the writer who simply wants the words to leap — or at least drop — from the nest and test their mettle.

The writer waits, perhaps much as a mother bird does. The work of flight, and the work of writing, requires patience and perseverance, as well as a knowledge of when to prod and when to remain silent. The words respond, wheeling and darting, sometimes rushing the sky.

Other times…the words still into silence. No more work can occur this day. The words settle in for the night, tuck their heads beneath still-forming wings. Quiet falls. A whisper or maybe just a sigh of the wind—hush, be still.

However, even the tranquility holds promise, a sense of waiting. The words, like baby birds, always try again. They rarely settle into permanent stillness. The feathers ruffle; the head turns. A glimmer of eye, a flicker of light. Flight is coming, could be here, in this newly-arrived, bruised-pink dawn.

The words test their weight, lift their wings. They propel into motion; the wind catches them; and the words fly. They soar.

Image: mrhayata (Creative Commons)