When the Muse Shows Up

October 21, 2019
Posted in Writing tips

When the Muse Shows Up

I have noticed over the years that when the Muse finally shows up, I am usually wandering around.


Wandering through the books I read over and over, I stumble upon an interesting notion, and the next few days and weeks are spent thinking of what draws me to that notion, and then words begin to come.


Wandering through my old journals—I try to read one or two of them each year while on retreat—I am reminded of a forgotten bit of my life, and the once-lost story finds a home.


Wandering the sidewalks in our neighborhood or through the park a few blocks away opens up a way of seeing something I never noticed before, and a bit of light appears in the dark of what I am trying to write.


“To remain silent and alone is to be open to influences that are crowded out of an occupied life,” writes Peter France in his book aptly named Hermits. Wandering around alone, in the absence of other voices, helps me find what I have to say, or at least what I have to say today. Tomorrow will be another day.


I rarely trust the Muse to show up on her own. I worry she has better things to do, better writers to inspire.


I do have complete faith that the best way to be found by her is to wander around, both literally and figuratively. If necessary, put the top down. Take a stroll through the park. Open up a book of quotes. Thumb through your journals.


If she is going to show up for me, it will be somewhere on the road between Horse Creek and Medicine Bow, between my house and the park, in the midst of the dance I do with the fountain pen on the page.


It will be when I am wandering, when I am following my nose.


– from “Dancing on the Head of a Pen” by Robert Benson