Getting the Most Out of Your Muse

A Moleskine notebook is a great way to capture ideas on the fly.

This past week people really seemed to connect with the back and forth correspondence between me and my Muse that started Wednesday with my series of letters to her, then ended Thursday with her frank reply. I think it struck such a chord because as creatives, we’ve all been there. In all seriousness though, if you want to take your craft seriously, and especially if you make a living from it, you and your Muse have got to work well together. Here are three tips that help me.

  1. Show up: my Muse wrote in her reply that she will show up when I do. Basically that means, don’t wait for some blast of inspiration to hit. As any experienced professional writer will tell you, you just have to start writing. Once you do that, the muse will show up. This is true for filmmakers and photographers too. You’d be surprised at how quickly ideas will start to come once you actually get to work.
  2. Capture Your Ideas: if you’re a professional creative and you don’t have some system for capturing ideas as they come to you, you need to get one now. There may be an image, a commercial, a funny video, an interaction with your family or friends, something that piques your interest and gives you a great idea. You need to be able to quickly capture it. I have a Moleskine notebook, but I have also used Evernote. If I’m out and about and don’t have access to a computer or don’t have my Moleskine, I break out my cell and leave a message on my office voicemail. My vmail system emails me mp3 recordings of messages. I then can reference them later when I need to.
  3. Set a Time Limit on “Research”: in my original post, I made fun of how I can get distracted watching movie trailers, videos or other movies to get inspiration. There is nothing wrong with getting inspiration this way. Just don’t go over board. Two ideas: 1) get a timer and set a time limit of 20 minutes tops. Or 2) set aside some personal time to spend longer watching videos, movies, etc. to get inspiration.
  4. Take the “Comparison Kills Creativity” Challenge: this is something I did back in August 2009. For a whole month I refused to watch or see any work by colleagues doing the same kind of work I did. I challenged my readers to do the same. For just one month, quit reading colleagues’ blogs or looking at their work. Get inspiration from other sources, or other creatives in a different aspect of your profession (if you’re a portrait photographer, only look at commercial work for that month). I may be doing this challenge again, but you don’t have to wait for me. We’re at the beginning of a month. Do it now.

What are some of the things you do to get the creativity flowing again?

3 thoughts on “Getting the Most Out of Your Muse

  1. Loving this post…I forgot about the ‘Comparison Kills Creativity” challenge…thanks for the reminder.

    Carl from T.O.

  2. Hi Ron,

    I really liked your 3 Muse articles! Great stuff! They reminded me of a presentation that I watched a long time ago. I think you might like it.

    “Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity”

    Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love. It’s kind of a long presentation (19 minutes), but I think it’s really inspiring.

    I hope your Muse comes back. Since she’s done such a great job in the past, I think she deserved a much needed vacation. 🙂

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