Tag Archives: muse

And a One, and a Two, and a Three

I don’t play music, but I sure do love it. Shake my paternal family tree and look out, because a lot of very good musicians are going to land on you. I’m extremely proud to say my three children, and now my grandchild, have all inherited the musical gene. Music is and always has been a huge part of my life.

So, no one had to tell me how music could/would affect my moods. When I’m facing long hours of housecleaning, I like to put on fast, upbeat music which energizes me. Never having been a person who enjoys exercise, I make sure my IPod is loaded with great music before I set out for a walk. When one (or all) of my children were being, let’s call it—challenging, and I found myself wondering how much I could sell them for, I’d dial in CBC Classical and watch their (and my) mood quiet.

Now that I write full-time I don’t have the luxury of waiting for my muse to stir awake whenever she feels like it. Each and every day, I arrive at my computer determined to produce. Nice, but some days my darling muse really does just want to stay in bed. So, what’s a girl to do? Music. The quickest and least painful way to end my muse’s snorefest is to plug in Mozart Symphony No. 40 and let it rip.

A lot has been written about the power of music on the brain and creativity. It’s a proven fact that children who study music perform better in school. It turns out Einstein used music for creative inspiration. In particular, pieces paced at 60 beats per minute engage the brain at a lower subconscious level and with a relaxed mind, our creative brain is able to roam.

Classical music works best for me, but you may have to try different types to find what gets your creative juices flowing. Although I don’t listen to it as I’m writing, I often put on songs with strong lyrics—Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Carol King, (Did I just date myself?) when I’m trying to get my brain in a poetic frame of mind. However, as a general rule, I prefer instrumental pieces when I’m actually working. Being a wordsmith, I get too lost in the lyrics if I hear someone else’s brilliant language.

What do you listen to when you write?

Here’s an interesting video about improv and what your brain looks like as you are creating.

“Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation — so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.” TED Talks


1 Comment

Filed under Writer's blog, Writer's journey, writing,

My Muse Just Left For the Casino!

How do I know? Well, there’s money missing from my wallet and she sure as heck isn’t here with me, in this lonely, windowless, overheated office. Doesn’t she know about my abandonment issues?

Fellow artists, I know you’ve felt the empty feeling and the pull-your-hair out panic when your muse is MIA. As I sit here worrying I might not have any money left when that crazy b***h gets back, I wonder—can a muse really leave? Is my muse a separate entity, or part of me? Aren’t those rare, fleeting moments of true inspiration actually me assessing my own subconscious? If I think of my muse as a separate entity, aren’t I essentially using a get out of jail free card and letting myself off the hook to explain away why I’m not producing? Maybe, but is that so terribly wrong?

This morning I watched a You Tube video where Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) questions why artists feel so tortured when their work isn’t going well and why so many plummet to the deep pits of depression and even insanity on such a regular basis. She goes on to suggest it might be healthier if artists did identify their muse as an external being, a creative divine attendant spirit that lives in the walls and seeps out and over an artist. After all, our art, although an act of expression, is in fact our job. We wouldn’t put ourselves through the dry spells if we hadn’t been called to do this work. When we show up for our job, we’re doing our bit and when the genius (Romans called a muse their genius) doesn’t visit us, well it isn’t our fault. Right? An external muse eliminates the need to torture ourselves over something completely out of our control and we get to keep our marbles. Sounds like a plan to me.

So as I plod my way through my re-writes, I’ll continue to look to my muse—even if she’s decided to wear her invisible cloak that day. And once in a while, I’ll even let her take a break if she has to blow off some steam at the casino. I’ll just have to get it in writing that she’ll be using her own cash from now on!

Here’s the link to the video. I think artists—and those that love one—will benefit from her sense of humour. We could all learn to not take ourselves so seriously.



Filed under Writer's blog, Writer's journey, Writing