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

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The Villain’s End

I’m sure you have noticed in the majority of books that deal with good versus evil, the villain dies at the end. Unless it’s comic books and in that case the villains never seem to die.

It’s ingrained in our moral conscience that good triumphs over evil and the only way to defeat said evil is that it must be completely eliminated. Most wouldn’t be satisfied unless the world/story is rid of the evil villain. The death would also pay for the innocent lives related to the evilness. We want the world to be good. We want the hero to have that happily ever after so they no longer (ever) have to deal with the ordeal the author has already put them through.

But…

I would like you to keep the options open. Why does the evil villain have to die? Why would his/her death pay for those sins committed? In my opinion, a death seems too easy of an out for an evil character and imagination. I mean the possibilities are almost endless on how a person can die, but does the villain really need to die?

The biblical proverb of reaping what we sow would fit better. Make that villain pay for their deeds. I’m not saying that you have to go tooth for tooth, but surely more stories can end with the character being exiled or have a just punishment that involves the villain getting exactly what they feared.

Example: if the character feared loosing the game, make them lose it. If a villain fought against a country to try overpowering it, make the villain instead be overpowered and know that it was his greed that caused his army to fall. Or have all his commanding forces betray him by switching sides and he’s left with no power.

Or a twist – have the villain right their wrong. Think of the Grinch from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Think as the villain as human. We all make mistakes and some of those choices can lead us down a wrong path and once we’re on that path, it’s too hard to leave it.

Or have the hero and the villain be the same character. The hero makes a whole array of decisions and they keep snowballing to negative results only to have at the end the hero finally makes the right choice.

Or another twist – have the hero fail. How would the villain succeed? How would that change the story? Why does there have to be a happily ever after? William Shakespeare wrote several tragedies and they are successful, even centuries later. And if you try arguing that it was the era of limited entertainment and that was why his plays were successful – research that before assuming it as so. Copies of Shakespeare’s work were limited and on average were first published a couple of years up to several decades after the plays were performed (Shakespeare Chronology).

And you can’t get away without me adding another Harry Potter thought.

Consider Voldemort – it seemed simple that his final death was the result of a backfire of Harry’s disarming spell. It was a huge series of best selling books and movies world wide, but Voldemort death only took one paragraph. Sure they circled each other having a chat before the two spells were cast, but what if Voldemort didn’t die from the backfiring and he was actually disarmed then captured? If Voldemort was so focused on separating his soul into the Horcruxes so he couldn‘t die, than wouldn’t another option have been to have the last remaining piece of his soul sucked out by one of his own creatures, a Dementor? So then his body would be a soulless empty shell that he could rot away in Azkaban. Lets face it, that would probably be Voldemort’s first and only “kiss” regardless.

These are just a few suggestions rather than taking the simple death ending of the villain. Don’t stay within the little box. Step outside it and push the boundaries with your story.

“There is no ceiling on your potential” – Chester Bennington.

L. R. Mauck

Weekend Challenge #23

challengeChoose your profession or a dream job and give a brief scenario of a plot surrounding the job. You can do any genre you would like.

For example: A murder mystery surrounding a bakery. A Chef discovers a rare chocolate. The chef proceeds to use it on the best choice of treats. However, when the rare chocolate is mixed with baking soda, it creates a strong poison.

Weekend Challenge #20

challengeTo related with my other post today (What’s in a Name?), I would like this challenge to make you think a bit more.

For your current WIP or a story you are thinking of, chose one of your characters and tell me why you named your character as such. Does their name relate to the story? A physical or personality trait? ect.


My current WIP has a sub-character that will influence the main character throughout the story. I chose to name him “Harrow”. Harrow means to “cause distress to”. He will be a father-like figure to the main character but his own views of the world they live in is of a twisted and hurtful nature. So, his guidance to the main character will cause distress.


Also, I was busy last Friday and away from computers and internet access, so there was no Weekend Challenge #19.

Weekend Challenge #18

This weekend, I’m giving you a word prompt.

The word: storm

I want you to tell me what storm means to you, or use it as a description (e.i. stormy eyes, or storm clouds approached), or in a poem, or even just a sentence from your WIP. The word itself can be storm, rain, thunder, etc.

With the recent hurricane in Texas and the flooding as it makes its way up the country, I know the devastation is in the forefront of our minds. As writers, it’s easier to get our thoughts and feelings recorded on paper.

 

L. R. Mauck

Weekend Challenge #16

Picture writing prompt: goblet

goblet

 

Use this goblet as an idea for a plot key in a story.

Example:

  • Fantasy – this is the goblet that anything poured within it whether wine or water, will allow the drinker a window into their future
  • Romance – this goblet was at an antique store that a woman really wanted it for her museum but the male owner couldn’t part with it because it had been in his family for centuries.
  • Historical – this is the goblet that one of King Author’s knights left behind at the round table.
  • Murder/Mystery – this is the goblet that held the poison that killed the unsuspecting victim.

Have fun with it and get creative.

L. R. Mauck