Catching the Muse, or NOT

This is  the second stop on the Mystery Writer Blog Tours Ink.

This article is the first entry in a rolling blog tour on the topic of Writer’s Block.  For the previous tour, please see Ryder Islington’s post on plotting. The details on all the participants in today’s tour are at the bottom of this post, as well as a link to the next article in the series.

Today’s subject: Writer’s Block

People have some strange ideas when it comes to writing. One of those ideas is that writer’s are visited by the muse and are inspired by some sort of magic. Oh, I’ve been there: when everything comes together, you have the inspiration, the time the energy and the words just flow. There’s nothing else like it.


I’ve been writing professionally for over twenty years and I can attest that it usually doesn’t happen like that. Real writers sit in front of their computer, or with a pen and paper in hand, and make the inspiration happen, word by word. Often it doesn’t feel inspiring at all. This is where, I think, writer’s block may come into the picture for some writers. They are waiting for the muse.

I’ve never really dealt with this kind of block. I’ve never had the luxury of it. I started out writing articles for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and so on. The deadlines come fast. You don’t meet them? You get fired. It’s that simple. So, when I started writing fiction, I approached it the same way. I gave myself deadlines. They had to work between my other very real deadlines for other writing projects–my articles and cookbooks, for example. When I landed my first fiction contract, it never occurred to me that I would not meet the deadline. In fact, I turned SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS  in a bit early and I’m getting ready to do that with the second book in the series.

But I understand another kind of writer’s block—burn out. I’ve been there. You’re on a roll, writing and selling articles or stories, and suddenly, you are fresh out of ideas, or you just can’t write one more word. Stepping away at that point—even if it’s just a day or two—is necessary. Talk about it with another writer. Go for a walk or a run. Clean out your basement. Sleep on it.

What I’ve found is that sometimes the time away is as important as the time in front of the computer. We need to nourish that creative spark sometimes—not wait for the muse—there’s a difference.

Do you see it? Are you ever blocked? What have you done about it?

Check out what some of the other writers on the blog tour say about writer’s block.

The next entry in today’s tour is by Kathleen Kaska I encourage you to complete the tour, and jump in there and comment.


Below is a list of the participants in today’s roll. We’d love it if you could stop by each of them and read more about Writer’s Block.

9 thoughts on “Catching the Muse, or NOT

  1. John Hines says:

    An interesting idea. I’ve never considered a deadline as a motivator, other than Nov 30 for NaNoWriMo. I wonder if it would be possible to set my own deadlines. Since I don’t have a contract, the only consequence for me would be disappointment. I’ll think on it. Perhaps I can come up with something. Thanks for the idea!

    • Mollie Cox Bryan says:

      Hey John, thanks for responding. Since you don’t have a contract at this point, maybe you can reward yourself with some kind of treat if you make that deadline. A massage? A good dinner out?

  2. Karen S. Elliott says:

    I feel the same way about “the muse.” Every so often I get a fabulous idea or find the “perfect” sentence (so great I can’t type fast enough). But mostly it’s work, good work, but work just the same.

  3. Pingback: Blog Tour: Writer’s Block | The Time Sink
  4. P.I. Barrington says:

    I agree completely with the early ( I call them false) deadline concept being an ex-journalist myself! I also understand and have done the “walk away” method as well. My problems are the extended walk away where I make excuses for myself not writing and then the awful guilt of staying away. Once I get into that procrastination=guilt cycle it’s hard for me to break it. The only thing that works is to just sit my butt down and work–with a diet Coke and a cup of coffee sitting side by side and within my super easy reach. Good points in the article and I think most authors with a journalism background have these or close to these methods of dealing with “blockage” (sounds like a Milk of Magnesia commercial)and that as you say is the result of having to make deadlines seriously and without excuses.

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