When the Muse Strikes

Outtakes 53

When the Muse Strikes

Don’t you just love those days when you power up the computer, open your current document, and start typing? They are few and far between, but when they come along, the pages fill as if by magic. There have been days I started work at eight in the morning and looked up ten hours later with more than one completed chapter. There are rules for such days. At least these are my rules.

  1. Send an email to family and friends to let them you are in the zone, and please do not call unless it’s an emergency. Those that love you will respect your need to work.
  2. Do not answer the door or the phone. It does no good to ask for writing time and then give in to a ringing phone. Turn down the ringer volume, and work.
  3. Do not read email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs (unless it’s mine), or play games. Once you start one of these activities, it’s hard to get back to your writing.
  4. Do not research. If you come to a point where you need additional facts, mark the spot with a brief note as to what is needed, highlight it and go on. Research may kill the Muse, so hold off on the mundane.
  5. Stop only when you need a quick break to run to the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, and get a snack. Keep the break short so that you don’t get distracted by the laundry that needs to be done, or the living room that needs dusting. This is one time when you are allowed to procrastinate.
  6. Turn off your internal editor. Forget about the red and green squiggly lines on the page. You can edit tomorrow. Keep the writing flow going until the inspiration runs out. Believe me, the Muse will depart, but what a day you’ve had.
  7. When you have exhausted the Muse, be sure you save and back up your work. I often neglect the last step, but one computer crash will convince you the necessity of the back-up. Save the pages on a flash drive, on Carbonite, or on an external hard drive. I also print a copy of the new pages. If the house floods and all the electronics are in the water’s path, a print out stored in a water-tight box on high closet shelf will preserve your efforts.

Enjoy those rare days when everything just seems to work. The visits from the Muse or infusions of inspiration make up for the days you struggle.

Cait Collins

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