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.

Continue reading “How to Fall in and Out of Love With Your Muse”

The Creative Muscle

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In the sixteen years since I wrote my first story, I’ve published five books, thousands of blog posts, and written a billion or so words that I later deleted.

When I first got started, one of my biggest fears was that I’d run out of ideas. I was concerned that I would burn out, that there won’t be any stories or words left in me. This doomsday scenario would play in my brain, over and over again, and for this reason I became a hoarder of… ideas.

Continue reading “The Creative Muscle”

9 Lessons I’ve Learned About Creativity, Procrastination, and Punching The Damn Keys

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I think I wrote and published well over a million words by now. Probably even more. Who knows? Who cares?

After all, the blank page that I have to fill right now with words doesn’t care about my previous articles, short stories, or novels. All it cares is that I transform its emptiness into something worth someone’s time.

This is what being creative means: to turn the white page, the blank canvas, the empty document into something by sheer power of will, which is, at times at least, quite a painful process.

And don’t believe anyone who tells you that being creative can be effortless. They are trying to sell you something, whether it’s an e-book or e-course.

Anyways, here are some tips and tricks on being creative. It’s not going to make the process effortless for you, but it’s going to offer you a bit of clarity, which I’ve found to be extremely useful especially when you’d much rather bang your head against your desk than write another word.

Continue reading “9 Lessons I’ve Learned About Creativity, Procrastination, and Punching The Damn Keys”

To All The Books I’ll Never Read

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In my younger, more vulnerable years, I used to keep a list of all the books I read. I took pride in this, took pride in counting how many books I read in any given year.

I was one of the few who liked to read. It was a secret pleasure of mine, but as soon as I hit the thousand books milestone, it’s lost its charm to me forever.

Maybe I’ve read twice as many books so far, maybe I’m not that good at counting anymore.

In any case, there are billions of words I’ll never get to read. Millions of books, stories, poems, plays, and essays that I’ll never even know about.

I do my best to read two books a week, and if I were to keep this up until I turn 75, I will have read an additional 4, 700 books. Give or take a few, because I’ve stopped being good at math in sixth grade, when I decided that all I wanted out of life was to write stories.

Maybe it sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It really isn’t.

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Is Writing Your Religion or Profession?

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J.D. Salinger once wrote, “Do you know what I was smiling at? You wrote down that you were a writer by profession. It sounded to me like the loveliest euphemism I had ever heard. When was writing ever your profession? It’s never been anything but your religion. Never. I’m a little over-excited now. Since it is your religion, do you know what you will be asked when you die? But let me tell you first what you won’t be asked. You won’t be asked if you were working on a wonderful, moving piece of writing when you died. You won’t be asked if it was long or short, sad or funny, published or unpublished. You won’t be asked if you were in good or bad form while you were working on it. You won’t even be asked if it was the one piece of writing you would have been working on if you had known your time would be up when it was finished.

[…]

I’m so sure you’ll get asked only two questions:

“Were most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out?”

If only you knew how easy it would be for you to say yes to both questions. If only you’d remember before ever you sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won’t even underline that. It’s too important to be underlined.”

Overall, I believe this is some of the best writing advice ever written. But I’d like to analyze the hell out of this paragraph, and tell you what I think about writing being either a profession or a religion.

First of all, writing is both at the same time. It has to be, if one wishes to be productive.

After all, my writing mantra has been, “Punch the damn keys.”

I say nothing about being inspired, having the time, or the planets being aligned in just the right way. I say nothing about other commitments, or chores, or the fact that you have to go grocery shopping.

I say, punch the damn keys, because, ultimately, that’s what makes you a writer. It’s as simple as that.

Or is it?

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Book Review: Ancient Book of Sex and Science

In this second volume in the critically acclaimed Ancient Book series, indulge yourself as you explore the strange frontiers of sex and science. From instruments of innovation and the Atomic Age to analysis of the mind, body, and seduction of the human form. Featuring broad color, shapely design, supple lines, and evocative commentary, The Ancient Book of Sex and Science is a fine art hardcover collection of images produced by some of the most highly sophisticated animation designers and low-brow artists in the industry.

This is a phenomenal book for all art aficionados. A must-have.  Continue reading “Book Review: Ancient Book of Sex and Science”

TMM: The Unreal

the unreal

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.” 

Chuck Palahniuk

Life’s all about cause and effect. A man without a cause has no effect on the world. A man without a cause crumbles under the pressure of the mundane. Day in and day out he struggles to find a purpose, a reason, a battle worth fighting. He feels as if wasting time, as if something bigger than himself is always running away, day after day after day.

No man is an island, and a way a man sees himself will affect the way he sees those around him. Those he wants to love. Those he wants to save. Those he wants to protect.

And a man must, at times, be willing to sacrifice who he is in order to do any of those things.

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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. 

Continue reading “How to Improve Your Writing… Right Now”