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Name your muse to increase creativity

“Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where you dream.” – Robert Olen Butler in From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction.

The other morning, I had a dream about writing. I was definitely in my happy place when I woke because the dream starred one of my favorite authors–Neil Gaiman–who was giving me writing advice.

In the dream, my hubby and I were having a picnic on a grassy knoll in England. (I’ve never been to England so I’m not even sure what it looks like or if there really are grassy knolls). Mr. Gaiman was walking by and stopped to entertain us with the details of his next writing project.

I told him I was a writer but that I was having problems finishing my current novel. He said, “You’re getting caught up in all that other stuff that doesn’t mean anything.” Wagging his finger at me, like my mother used to do when I was young and naughty, he continued, “Just tell a story. Forget about everything else for now.”

I woke up smiling. I mean, who wouldn’t with Mr. Gaiman wagging his finger at you? 

In the dreamy, sleepy recesses of my mind, I realized I had an opportunity to continue the dream conversation so I asked Mr. Gaiman a few questions about my story–and he answered. I discovered that my protagonist is more flawed than I thought she was. I learned that my antagonist is secretly in love with her and that’s why he hates her so much.

Through my dreaming mind, I uncovered my current muse. I say “current” because your muse may change from project to project. Our muse speaks to us from our subconscious or dreaming mind where, according to Robert Olen Butler, art also comes from.

Your muse can take many shapes. Your muse can be a real person, someone you’ve met, someone whose work you admire, or an imaginary person or animal. Stephen King calls his muses, “the boys in the basement.” Dante had his Beatrice. John Irving has his bears.

The key is developing a connection with your muse so you can access him or her in your nighttime dream state or in your waking dream state. Sometimes, before I write, I get quiet, close my eyes, and ask my muse to guide me or help me answer a specific question. Sometimes, my muse cooperates and, sometimes, he’s as silent as a dead crow. My muse is never boring.

Do you have a muse? If not, try calling one up in your next daydream. Name your muse and see where he can lead you.

To read more about muses and inspiration, read my post “Three ways to feed your muse.”

Mr. Gaiman’s latest book is: The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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