They say that experiences feed the muse, that you can draw from your real life to create more vivid imaginary ones. But I have found the opposite is true: the more I experience, the more my mind tends to dwell on those ‘real’ moments than the ‘imaginary’ ones in my stories.

I used to write to escape the confines of a restricted lifestyle – in my imagination I found the freedom to do all the things I could never do in real life. Now that I can do these things, now that the images in my head are memories and not fantasies, I no longer feel the pressing need to make up stories. I have lived stories. This is good for me, and bad for my art.



Your muse is a jealous lover, and the pact you enter into with her is dangerous, all-consuming, and demands your dedication. She won’t be cast aside and wait patiently for you to return to her. She’ll snatch you away from more pressing matters with a sudden burst of inspiration and that itch to write at the base of your skull. Or she’ll leave you, let you stagnate in front of a blank page for weeks, if you do not give her the constant attention that she demands.

To appease my muse, I think I will go to a cafe and sit quietly and listen to her, pen in hand, free from other distractions. Maybe then she’ll learn to love me again . . .


Motivation technique:

Get on a computer and design the dream cover of your finished book. Print it out and tack it to the wall above where you write. Imagine the way it will feel in your hands, thick and heavy and hot off the presses. Imagine stacking them on shelves like bricks with their beautiful glossy spines shouting your name over and over in authoritative lettering. Imagine a stranger finding it in a bookstore and thumbing through it, wondering if they should buy it.

Repeat every time you find yourself losing interest in your work.


Make maps of imaginary islands by tracing lines around coffee stains. Hang them on the walls. Name the bays, the crags, the shorelines and the rivers. Populate them with winged people or tailed people or a race completely removed from humans. Imagine them in intricate detail. Do not feel the need to write about them; some things lose their magic when put into words.


Don’t write what you know—what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you—and interests you deeply—and your readers will catch fire at your words – Valerie Sherwood

Telling people to “write what you know” is kind of like saying: “Go on an adventure – but just don’t leave the block, ok?” I’m writing what I don’t know. And that’s the whole point. 


I often wonder if every human being shares this aching need to create? Is it something only writers must live with – a kind of compulsive reaction to an addictive activity? Or is it something everyone shares? If the latter is the case, I am curious about how non-writers relieve this ache when they cannot flip open a notepad and use a pen to reshape the world.


I live for that moment when, while writing, I no longer feel like I am orchestrating the characters, but rather simply following behind them and recording their actions. This usually happens around page forty, and when it does, I know that I have cracked open the outer shell of my story world and have gotten inside it. Now the real adventure can begin . . .