Exercising the Muse

It’s March 1st. Many New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned by now. Exercise equipment, clothing racks. Gym memberships, forgotten. Fitness goals left by the wayside.

Hopefully, the writers out there have been good to keep up their word goals. So far, I have…but it hasn’t been easy. My minimum word goal per day is 500. That’s not a lot, but that’s the minimum. Thankfully, I’ve passed it at every turn. How? By exercising my muse.

I imagine my personal muse as a handsome man who looks quite a bit like a certain character (hint: Moose!) on a popular television show. The link came about a while back, after I’d had a couple of dreams with him in them. I wrote better on those days. Hence, my muse.  —insert cough here— Of course, a muse doesn’t get buff overnight. Gotta exercise him/her in a creative way. It sets up your word goal success.

One of the biggest things I do, is stop my writing day at a place where I know what I want to happen next. If I don’t know, I can use the time between writing to figure it out. Problems and blocks usually work themselves out when I do it this way, and I can go in fresh. For example, I want my character to go into a mausoleum for “x” reason. I write up until she goes in. Then what? I wait until the next writing day to figure that out. She has to find “x” and get out. That’s fodder for story continuation…and the words can flow. It’s kind of like a hybrid of pantsing and plotting. At the beginning, I may have a general idea of where to go, but no real plan to get there. Day by day, scene by scene, I make my plan.

Does this make any sense? I hope so!

Another thing I do when I get stuck, is work on the story “bible.” Each of my stories has a definitive book that contains character information (biographies, fears, likes, motives, what they look like, etc.), settings,notes, quotes from the characters…you name it. Even the most random observations. For “Cake or Death,” I  noticed that Home Depot sells yard stakes and commented to my husband, “Wouldn’t that be a good idea for a busy, vampire slaying single mom?” Into the Cake or Death bible that went. By getting to know your characters and their world in a deeper way, you can come up with new and better ways to move the story along.

There are a ton of different writing exercises you can do, and it’s pretty easy to find them on the internet. If you have suggestions of your own, put them in the comments! You never know who you might help in the process. Keep exercising those muses!

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