How to kiss up to your muse
Don’t you adore her? Do you…adore her? Actively? Adore.
Muses simply must be adored. They’re as grandiose as they are generous. They like to be respected. If you meet them half way, they’ll give you the moon, the breakthrough concept, the stroke of…genius. Dis’ your muse and she’s likely to stop dropping by. She’s righteous. Genius is like that.
As Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) puts it in her freshly legendary TED Talk, we’ve made “a huge error in believing that creative genius comes from the Self,” rather than a greater source outside of us. Can you hear the Muses saying, “Yeah baby. Got that right. You say it sister.”
There are a zillion starry ideas floating in the milky way and they need you as much as you need them. Genius is looking for a vehicle. You gotta pimp your ride.
HOW TO DO RIGHT BY THE MUSE:
1. Drop everything when she shows up.
In an interview with Neil Young, Charlie Rose asks Neil about following his muse. (You won’t hear this in the clip below.)
Charlie: “So if you get an idea at say, a dinner party, if you hear a tune or a lyric, do you excuse yourself form the party?”
Neil: “Of course. You never know when she’ll (The Muse) come again. I’m responsible to her.”
When you feel an idea comin’ on, excuse yourself. Pull over to the side of the road. Get lost in the creative flow. Be late. Barge in. (Eccentricity makes Muses especially horny.)
2. Have your tools ready.
Master-writer Anne Lamott, keeps 3×4 white note cards and pens in every purse and drawer and vehicle to capture thoughts that float out as quickly as they float in. If I leave home without my kraft Moleskine and blue medium point PaperMate pens, I feel discombobulated, like I might miss my train. Keep a notepad by your night stand. Leave yourself a voice mail. Don’t assume that the best ideas will come back to you.
3. Go looking for her.
You know where she likes to party: the art gallery, by the lake, on your morning run, when the stereo is cranked and the lights are low, in the stillness of a church or forest, when you first wake up. Set the stage and chances are she’ll take to it.
4. Engage her.
She’s busy, for sure, but The Muse LOVES it when you actually play with her. When she drops an idea in your bucket you can ask her what the hell she’s thinking. You can ask her what chapter should come next, or where to look for funding. She could yammer ’til dawn and before you know it, you’ve mapped out your magnum opus.
5. Do what she tells you to do.
Ignore your muse at your own peril. She doesn’t always have it right, or maybe we don’t always hear her clearly, but the more you heed her wisdom, the faster you get to drive on the Creative Awesomeness Highway. You and The Muse in the diamond lane. Godspeed.
Charlie Rose interviews Neil Young: