Master Your Muse and Multiply Your Blogging Effectiveness

Muses

Silence.

It’s frightening for a writer. Not real silence, of course, but the eerie quiet inside your head, the mysterious absence of words. You think and think and think, but it’s like turning on a light switch when the lightbulb is blown. Nothing happens, no matter how hard you try.

It makes you feel… powerless. Sure, it’s your mind, your thoughts, your words, but you’re not completely in charge of them. There’s a certain magic to writing, almost like Tinkerbell sprinkling lost boys with pixie dust and enabling them to fly.

No amount of happy thoughts will help you fly without the pixie dust. You need that extra bit of magic, that spark that makes your words take flight.

Where does that magic come from? One place: your muse.

Are the Words Really Yours?

Consider the following:

  • You can’t always write when you want to
  • Good ideas for posts just pop into your head
  • You can’t control when they pop into your head
  • When you’re in the flow, it feels almost magical
  • Afterwards, it seems like someone else wrote it

Put all of those clues together, and you might begin to think that there’s a pixie on your shoulder, whispering words in your ear and filling your head with brilliant ideas. And you wouldn’t be alone. Many famous writers describe their best writing as coming from somewhere else, and they invented the idea of a muse centuries ago.

Scientifically, of course, it’s ludicrous. You can probably reduce it to the priming of certain neurons, the degree of interconnectivity between brain modules, and neurotransmitters that facilitate creativity.

But understanding how creativity works isn’t the same as making it work. From a practical standpoint, pretending you have a pixie on your shoulder and learning how to master him (or her) is probably more effective, even though it is fanciful.

All Bloggers Have Muses

For most of us, the term “muse” conjures visions of ancient poets that looked to goddesses like Aphrodite for inspiration. Or it might remind you of the lovestruck writer who finally makes something of himself to impress the woman of his dreams.

While both are true, I suppose, they’re not very helpful to bloggers. For one, the traditional view is sexist—not all writers are men—and two, it’s a romantic interpretation that’s hard to connect with when sitting alone in front of a computer screen.

The better interpretation is that your muse is that little voice inside your head, the originator of your best ideas, and your constant writing companion. It’s a part of yourself that “turns on” when you’re in your most creative moment, allowing you to write that special post that gets you to the homepage of Digg or elicits hundreds of comments from your readers.

You muse is also a troublesome little creature. It wanders off when you sit down to write a post, directs your attention to subjects that have nothing to do with your readership, and thinks it’s funny to give you ideas that are both offensive and embarrassing.

It’s also a creature that you can master, and if you’re serious about blogging, it’s essential that you learn how.

The Importance of Mastering Your Muse

Successful bloggers know that you can’t just write when you feel like it. You’re expected to pump out post after post of insightful content, continually winning the attention of both your readers and other bloggers that would link to you.

To be able to keep up the pace and produce consistently high quality content, you have to learn to manage your creative process. You have to master your muse. Otherwise, you’ll break under the weight of everyone’s expectations and stop blogging. It might have already happened to you.

Similarly, the benefits of mastering your muse are powerful. You’ll be able to write consistently insightful and remarkable content, do it at a moment’s notice, and create results for your blog that you can only describe as magic.

If that’s something you’re interested in (and who wouldn’t be?), then I’d like to show you how. I’ve by no means achieved absolute mastery of my muse, but I write 1,000-2,000 words every day, without fail, and learned to channel my muse’s whisperings into writing of sufficient quality to appear on Copyblogger.

So, keep an eye on the upcoming posts. I’ll probably do about one per week for the next couple weeks. Don’t ask me how many or what they’ll be about, because while my muse probably knows, the little fiend thinks it’s funny to keep us all in suspense.

But he promises they’ll be good.

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Be sure to check out Jon’s blog, On Moneymaking.

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Comments

  1. Great post, Jon!

    Boy, do I know that lil teeny-weeny beast … my muse.

    It sometimes does have a warped sense of humor, doesn’t it? :)

    And … how do you get on copyblogger? I’ll have to check this out, as I definitely need to do a better job with my own blog … and I’d love to get some links out there in the infamous blogosphere!

    Thanks again for your post.

    Carolyn

  2. I agree that having a muse is important when it comes to writing. Generally, what I will do is have someone in mind when I write.

    The words may not necessarily be for her but just having her there keeps my creative juices flowing…

    Personal Development for the Book Smart
    http://RichGrad.com

  3. Nice post, Jon. Let’s hope your muse doesn’t go on an unexpected holiday bender. :)

  4. Now I am feeding my neurons with your nifty tips. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I just hope my muse does too! ;-o

  5. One great way I’ve found to keep my creative juices flowing is to use Google Notebook to “scribble” any ideas that come to mind whenever I’m on my computer. I can also cut and paste links to interesting articles I may want to use in future blogs. This way, I never run out of ideas, as I just open up the “notebook” (it’s always in a link in the right corner of my screen, ready to be opened) whenever I run out of ideas to write about.

    I’ve also been developing a sort of editorial calendar (book review on Wednesday, film review on Thursday, recipe on Saturday) that’s helped a lot in terms of organizing my blog and making sure I always have something to write about.

    I really enjoy your blog. Looking forward to reading about your tips!

    Salut,
    Marjorie

  6. Muse? All right, now I have a name for this annoying creature. :)

    Looking forward to reading the rest of the series Jon.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

    You have quite the insight into making the creative process work.

    And you are ab-so-lutely correct: sometimes those words, just won’t come.

    But I find a way to kick those creative juices into gear, mostly by pretending that my muse is right across the table from me, engaging me in a rich, mind-blowing conversation.

    Thanks for the rich insight!

  8. Part of cultivating a great relationship with one’s muse is exercising it regularly. As a basic discipline, quick gesture figure drawing from life hones a skill set for the artist. Keeps the right eye to muscle skills primed and ready. I think in some ways blogging can be comparable for honing those writing skills. Attempting to nail a point with as much clarity and skill as possible at that time for that day in that format is very much like drawing nudes. Except maybe this time the artist/writer gets a little “naked”. I am thrilled you will be working out with your muse here once a week. Your point of view is always helpful. All best, Jan

  9. I don’t remember if it was this blog or another one that gave me the advice to keep an idea list. But one day I sat down and wrote down over 100 blog post ideas. Now I am never hurting for a topic.

    I’m still developing my work habits with writing. Calling these things a muse is fine, but really its just work.

    I’ve found that even if I’m really tired and have no creative juice I can still write a good first draft. So, sometimes its just a matter of forcing yourself to do the work.

  10. I tend to keep my muse talking by giving it room to roam every day. It’s called my journal. Complete freedom to be as nonsensical as it wants to be. And often, some good nuggets come out with all the nonsense.

    Plus by blog subscribers don’t have to wade through the mountains of ‘leftovers’ that tend to come along with the good ideas. As a blogger, having that safe place is critical to keeping the muse happy. You know, that and, in a pinch, a few cold ones. (Not that I would ever advocate the latter.)

  11. I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming series on mastering the muse. I’m pretty good at sparking my own creativity but I am always open to new ideas!

    -Melissa Donovan
    Writing Forward

  12. When I used to ride horses, I used to get in The Zone, which is the common term for an athlete’s specific state of mind when nothing else matters but what’s happening in The Zone.

    Now that I write for a living, I get a glimpse of that awesome feeling every now and then when I’m on a roll. Feels great. Guess it’s The Muse and not The Zone, but hey. It’s all good.

  13. I’m confused. You say “learn how to master your muse,” but you never mention “how?” Is that to be profiled in the upcoming articles?

  14. Whenever my muse is around, I take the opportunity to write as much as I can and store it for a rainy day.

  15. You almost lost my attention with, “You can probably reduce it to the priming of certain neurons, the degree of interconnectivity between brain modules, and neurotransmitters that facilitate creativity.”
    However, I persevered, and I’m glad I did.

    Nevertheless, I agree with Lucy. You’ve left us grasping for the “How?”. However, I think it was intentional, to keep us looking for the next post?

    I must be honest, my muse is most active and productive when I apply myself to reading books. No blog inspires thought like a book. The thing is, it doesn’t even have to be a good book! That says a lot for the blogs I read…

  16. Thank you for that post – It was a great read, and I look forward to some tips on how to master that little pixie you call the muse..

    I’m surprised no one as yet has mentioned feeding it wine! Not too much you understand – just a little. Everything in moderation!

    Crikes – now I have images of everyone throwing glasses of wine over their shoulder to feed the pixies sitting naughtily on everyones’ shoulders…

  17. @ Tina – Wouldn’t that be Bacchus you’d be feeding? Besides, we’re all reeling from a recent post about getting drunk on our words, so drinking wine and writing… Well. Dangerous.

  18. Hi James

    Ha – I have to confess – I knew nothing about Bacchus. So thank you for your comment as it’s lead me to discover that Bacchus is the God of Wine!!!

    It seems to me, that maybe Bacchus could be another name for our “muse”… especially if he’s going to raise our blogs and turn them into constellations in the sky:-)

    Many apologies if I’m going over old ground… I’m new here so haven’t read all of the back posts…

    I’ll shut up now…:-)

  19. @ Tina – 7 Warning Signs You’re Drunk on Your Own Words

    Another excellent Copyblogger post. I’ve discovered I’m an alcoholic.

  20. Good post, Jon.

    The very best advice on dealing with your muse came from Sir Philip Sidney, who was on this thread 420-odd years before the rest of us – in spirit, at least:

    “..biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
    ‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write!’”

  21. Great post, Jon!

  22. Every time I am sure I am wrung dry, that muse comes through. Maybe not at the exact moment I need it but shortly afterwards.

    I guess even a muse needs a break once in a while.

    The comments on this post were terrific! Almost as good as the article. It helps to know we have company.

    Can’t wait for the follow up article. You are going to write one, aren’t you?????

  23. This was a fabulous post. Unfortunately, I think my muse sometimes suffers from attention deficit disorder, because she wanders off for days at a time (grin).

  24. @Lucy and Armen: Sorry for the confusion, guys. Yeah, this was just an introductory post to test the concept. You should see another one from me next week.

    @Bill: Love the quote!

    @Corinne: Yep. Should be several follow-up posts coming over the next few weeks.

  25. Can you ask my muse to stop whispering while I’m trying to fall asleep? Tell her it’d be much better to get the ideas in the morning just after breakfast. ;)

    I had not thought of a blogging muse before this. Now I just have to figure out how to catch her and master her without squishing her.

  26. Deb – teehee ha ha…. that comment made me laugh out loud… I recon your Muse and mine are off skipping in the sunset together – as mine wanders off for days at a time too !!!

  27. “the traditional view is sexist—not all writers are men”

    FYI, It’s heterosexist, too. Not all men are heterosexual.

  28. For me the best way to master my muse is to write often. I don’t try to make every post a masterpiece, so there is a certain degree of junk that makes it through.

  29. It is often hard for me to keep up with blogs and have enough to say that is meaningful and helpful. Sure I have lots of opinions, but sometimes there is such a struggle to put them in words on the blog. Thank goodness for good content on the internet that we can take and discuss.

  30. Thanks Jonathan Morrow for the share

  31. Thanks Jonathan Morrow for the share