How to Fall in and Out of Love With Your Muse

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“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”

Stephen King

I can’t tell you where to find your muse-guy. It might be a corner-booth in a crowded bar. It might be in your own house, in your own bed, as you struggle to fall asleep.

You might even find your muse in the subway, as you ride home after work.

Stranger things have happened.

I can tell you only that when you find this muse, every civilized instinct in your soul will disappear. You’ll suddenly feel this itch, impulsive as hell, a complete disregard for rules or consequences.

You will want to create something of your own. You will want to do what you can, with whatever’s at your disposal at that moment. Right there, right then. If you have to write your story on a piece of napkin, so be it. If you have to sketch on your phone, fine.

When you find your muse, you will feel yourself becoming addicted to the promise of doing work you hope could last forever.

The goal isn’t to live forever. We all die. We all know that. The goal, however, is to create something so beautiful, almost as beautiful as the things we can imagine, and then hope it’s going to last forever in the hearts and minds of everyone else.

However, it is of utmost importance that you go home. Seriously. Go home and get to work.

When you find your muse, listen to the voice of inspiration. You won’t be able to sleep anyways. You might feel the need to pick up smoking, or some other bad habit. The side-effects of inspiration are often teeth grinding, a loss in appetite, and taking longer than usual showers, so you can brainstorm until the skin on your fingers gets all wrinkled.

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The Art of Perfection

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“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” — Aristotle

There’s a myth about Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel.

One day, someone was watching the Italian artist spend an insane amount of time laboring over a small, hidden corner of the chapel’s ceiling.

Surprised by Michelangelo’s persistence to make that obscure corner as perfect as possible, they asked the artist who would ever know whether it was perfect or not.

Michelangelo replied, “I will.”

Even though the great Renaissance artist considered himself to be a sculptor, and wasn’t a big fan of painting, he did however have a deep love for the act of creation, regardless of the medium.

Another popular myth about Michelangelo is the fact that, even at the age of 82, a master of the arts, he was proud to admit that he was still learning.

The process was his reward. The creative journey interested him, far more than reaching the destination.

In our pursuit of success, we often focus mostly on the end result. Ironically, by doing that, we either neglect the journey because we want to get there as fast as possible or we simply obsess on making the end result as perfect as possible.

Either way, we forget to enjoy the journey, and in effect, we lose our desire to even reach the destination.

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6 Books Every Writer Should Read

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Oscar Wilde once said that, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

Writing as an art can’t be taught, and even though Creative Writing courses and workshops undoubtedly help writers grow, writing is a solitary process, and it’s up to each individual to reach within the confines of his mind for answers.

Writers are unique to the extent that even if someone would try to replicate the same career a fellow writer had, he would most likely fail to achieve the same success. A lot of factors come to play in this, including luck, and blindly following a writer’s advice is not the most suitable of actions. What worked for him might not work for you. Instead, you should absorb the rules others have used before you and change them according to your own style and needs.

There are no maps to guide you in this journey. All you get are some folks who are more than happy to help you find your way from time to time.

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How to Improve Your Writing… Right Now

Many of you would love to write better short stories or poems, more compelling blog posts, more intriguing articles. And you’ve probably heard all the old advice by now. Practice makes perfect. Get your 10,000 hours in. Just show up and write.

And of course, these are all great ideas, but implementing them takes a lot of time. It’s not like you can write for 10,000 hours in a week or so. It’s not physically possible.

Or as they say…

What if I were to tell you there are a couple of ways you can improve your writing right now? No years and years of practice required.

What would you say?

Well, you’d be glad you decided to read this post. 

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TMM: A Lonely Job

“An artist is always alone – if he is an artist.” – Henry Miller

Writing is a lonely job, no doubt about it. And no matter how successful you might become, you’re still alone. It’s the inexorable truth of the writer’s condition: you sit at your desk, in an empty room or in the most crowded coffee shop, yet you’re alone. You just do your thing.

Of course, this poses a rather interesting question: if you spend that much time alone, how do you find stuff to write about?

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Albert Camus’s Beautiful Letter of Gratitude to His Childhood Teacher After Winning the Nobel Prize

19 November 1957

Dear Monsieur Germain,

I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honor, one I neither sought nor solicited. But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened. I don’t make too much of this sort of honor. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.

Albert Camus

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I Am An Artist Because…

There’s a part of me that believes art to be a primordial aspect of the human condition. Art inspires, art is a way of achieving greatness, of building a better world. Art turns strangers into friends. Without art, without artists, we wouldn’t be ourselves anymore.

Because I feel that within the confines of any artistic form of expression, we allow ourselves to wear a mask. The artist hides behind words or paints or brushes. And he feels safe. He can be anyone he wants to be. His freedom is limitless. And he plays this bizarre game of hide and seek with the rest of the world, constantly changing the rules, until he decides – maybe on a mere subconscious level – to be himself, thinking that people will never find out.

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