When your Muse is Gone

Many artists – from musicians to actors to chefs to athletes to painters to writers – will draw inspiration from something other than themselves. It can be anything from someone close to you to an idea or goal to a physical object to a personal experience to a spiritual level. This source of inspiration is what is called a muse.

Having a muse can be great. It gives you an outside perceptive (out of the box look) to view your work. The more muses you gain, the larger pool of inspiration you can pull from.  However, a muse can be bad when it is suddenly gone. Trying to find your creativity is like being lost in the middle of a wooded wilderness. You have an idea and a direction, but you just can’t put one foot in front of the other.

This is where I am now.

For many, many years, writing is a hobby of mine. To help me focus on my writing, I use music as background noise. But, when my favorite band comes on, my mind uses their music as a source to write by. If it’s a scene that is very active or intense, I’ll listen to one of their hard rock songs. Those scenes do tend to pick up speed that matches the songs. When it needs a slower, calmer scene, I’ll listen to some of their more meaningful songs. The lyrics are absolutely amazing and can speak so many different levels that I have never been unable to relate to any of their albums. Now that I’m on Twitter, I see just how down to earth each of the members of the band are and how, even now, interact often with their fans. If you have read any of my previous posts, you would know instantly that I’m speaking of Linkin Park.

Just after joining Twitter last year, I followed the band and assumed that they would continue putting out new albums up until we are all deaf from old age and I wouldn’t care any more. Then, sadly, July 20th happened that sent an earthquake through many fans and stopped the band in their tracks. It still hard to believe that Mr. Bennington is no longer here. I had no idea just how much the band had influenced my writing over the years until those days immediately following his death. I sincerely felt that this was the last of Linkin Park. Just that thought seemed to freeze every new creative notation within me. I had many ideas already recorded prior on a single flash drive (yes, I know backups save lives). Then the flash drive disappeared in the fall. You all probably saw that my blog posts started tapering off. I no longer had an outline of topics. My writing in general has been suffering as well.

But Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park) surprised many with releasing three new songs this year that were created solely by him. Over the last few weeks, I’ve listened to the songs. When the songs first played, I examined the content of the songs and mentally compared them to other Linkin Park songs. Then later, I thought about how I felt when Chester passed. But tonight as I’m currently listening to the songs right now, they finally clicked in my head. Linkin Park drew their own inspiration from the paths they walked themselves. Mr. Shinoda is still doing the same thing with his new material. Each song speaks of exactly how he found his way to get back to his craft. He was lost after his band mate’s death and needed to find that first step to getting his life back. Then he had to deal with grieving while on stage (literally and figuratively). I can’t imagine how they would have felt, but the songs give a window into the roller coaster of grief.

This was what I needed tonight. To see what I myself must do. Yes, Linkin Park will still be my muse for much of what I do. But I need to look to myself and make those necessary steps to get back on track.

Ways to get passed your dead muse &/or writers block

  • Set aside a time to think about your story. Take notes.
  • Read – the more you read, the more your imagination is in use
  • Interview your characters
    • One suggestion I received was to write a background story of how the characters met
  • Research – the more you work with your material, the more twists or ideas will aid you
  • Set aside a time to WRITE
    • There are times that you just have to get your hands dirty
    • Set a daily goal to write just a paragraph, then increase it as you start writing
    • Setting a timer beside you will help push you and keep you focus to write the word count goal and not give into checking Twitter or playing cards
  • If you can’t find the inspiration you need where you typically write, change locations
    • Just don’t try writing in front of the tv. Trust me, it doesn’t work.
  • Talk to someone or out loud to a wall about your story. Hearing it verbally described will make you think more about your characters and the overall story plot. They may even be able to offer additional ideas to use.
  • If you aren’t on twitter, you need to be. There are so many other writers on there offering support and tips.

I hope these help you in your writing. I am still struggling, but I’m setting a daily goal of writing. Every little bit will build to a story.

L. R. Mauck


Adding Hobbies

This post is another layer to add to your character(s) in your writing. I will say that I have read a book or two that was solely a plot-based book. However, if you want to add more to your characters on a relatable level or add more words to your book, you’ll want to add a tangent or even a minor subplot.

One of those tangents can be characters with hobbies. Something that fills their “free time” when they are not involved directly with the plot. Adding hobbies to character(s) is an easy way to slow down the plot if need be or even angle the story that their hobby will later give way to the climax of the plot.


Harry Potter was an athlete by playing Quidditch. Throughout the series, his flying and even practice times were aided in the series.

Herimone Granger (Harry Potter series) was a scholar. She was constantly reading, quoting, and seeing the important clues that Harry missed.

Fred and George Weasley (Harry Potter series) were jokesters who later opened a joke shop. They were a comedy relief as well as played important roles in the series as well as their products.

Katniss Evergreen (Hunger Games) was a hunter who fed her family.

Bella Swan (Twilight) didn’t really have a hobby until the second book when she started rebuilding and riding the motorcycle with Jacob Black.

Personal examples I’ve used in my own books – one character was training for the school’s track team. It gave her an excuse to be out on the roads or in town to witness different clues. Another had a successful career in music – with him being used to his fan base, he could relate on a better level with people from all different walks of life.

One VERY common thread I see in many books is that one of the main characters is a reader. Yes, we writers also love to read. I’m guilty. However, try to push pass this pattern. Get a bit more creative with the hobbies. Yes, I understand that in some cases you want your character to be smarter than the average human – especially if it’s needed for the plot, but get out of the box. Have the character have first hand knowledge of the subject because their parents or best friend worked in that field. Make them a Wikipedia junky – as in they are always looking something up online. It doesn’t make them a reader exactly, but it can be used as the result of a t.v. show curiosity or topic of conversation and they look it up on their phone.

I also understand that in period based novels there was limitations in the activities people could do as a hobby. Jane Austen did have her characters do more than reading. She had them attending parties, playing games, putting on plays, playing piano, taking walks, visiting neighbors, traveling, etc. It is doable.

If you want to push your creativity, do a hobby in the book that you have never done before. Go out and explore that hobby. In a previous post, I wrote about that I personally took up archery to better understand my characters. It will give you firsthand knowledge and may even teach others who read your books about the hobby or craft.

L. R. Mauck