Recapturing the Muse

blank pages flying to book

It’s easy to get out of the writing habit.

If you’ve been busy with other things, it can take an effort to get back into writing mode.

Last week we were visiting relations in Cornwall, and I let go of my muse. The result was similar to letting go of our puppy on the beach: freedom for us both until I want him back in the car.

Before Cornwall, I had been trying to make sense of Canva and Gimp so that I could put together a cover for a print version of The Godmother.

First attempts at a cover. Comments welcomed (be brutal).

Before our trip to Cornwall, I been editing a friend’s novel as well as The Godmother, so it’s been a while since I actually wrote anything.

Meanwhile, Scribble magazine’s annual competition, which I usually enter, has a submission date (by snail mail) that is getting nearer and every day I don’t get around to tackling it. I’m beginning to wonder if my husband’s procrastination is contagious.

But this week I have answered not one, but two calls to action on the writing front.

On Wednesday, I came across a blog post inviting readers to produce a poem to a prompt and post it in the comments for (optional) feedback, I naturally chose to do that rather than tackle my competition entry.

(I am never one to turn down free feedback. Should anyone be interested, the post is at https://caroljforrester.com/2020/09/23/poetry-inspiration-aint-i-a-mug/ .)

coffee

I was taking a break halfway through my verse, when I opened an email linking to the Short Story Framework I’d requested earlier from storyaday.org. The website’s strapline is “WRITE TODAY, NOT ‘SOMEDAY’!” which spoke to my procrastinating soul.

The Short Story Framework download concluded with three actions, and a request to email back confirming which step I planned to take. Since it was already 5pm, I emailed my intention to write my story next day and post on social media (with the tag #StoryADay) when I had finished it.

“Next day ” arrived yesterday, and was passing swiftly; by 3pm I still hadn’t started my story. Having committed to writing something (and not wanting to waste the effort) I finally sat down with my competition prompt and the Framework yesterday afternoon.

The prompt hadn’t inspired me so far, but I went with the only whiff of an idea that had presented itself and filled in the Framework with names for my characters (something I normally do on the fly,) and a goal and an ending.

There’s nothing particularly new or different in this type of planning. It’s just that I don’t normally do it. Not only did I fill in the Framework, I then went on to put together a rough scene list on an application called Scapple, which I downloaded some time ago and have yet to become familiar with.

And I did it! After interruptions, to feed the dogs and then us, I finished my first draft around 9pm.

It needs work. The characters are still two-dimensional, and descriptions need polishing (what descriptions?) but I have something to work on. And I’ve always prefered the fine-tuning to the composing.

At some point I will post it on here. If it gets placed or published it will appear first in Scribble’s Autumn or Spring edition, but you may get it sooner than that.

Meanwhile, I have some editing to do…

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What incentives have helped you escape procrastination’s clutches?

21 thoughts on “Recapturing the Muse

    1. Perhaps I ought to try those (I certainly could do with the exercise. And the dusting!) Walking the dogs used to help me think, but now I’m retired, my husband comes with me, so we’re chatting instead.

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  1. Hi Cathy, I’m afraid you are looking for a solution to everyone’s problem at some point in life. Inertia is hard to overcome. Getting started is the best solution, which means physically doing something rather than thinking about it or putting it on a list. Does that sound like a lecture? I finally pained my back steps this morning after griping about it and threatening to do it for months/years. Thanks for following my blog Always Write. It’s a pleasure to get to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That means a lot. I’m working around the disadvantage that I have no graphic skills of my own so have to work with what others make available. Graphics software mostly goes over my head as well, but it’s a learning curve. Thanks for your input.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s a goldfish pond (although ours has koi and some bottom-feeders, other fish, but I thought I’d keep it simple). They are all kind of colours though – the colours of the Mirlings are supposed to echo the kind of colours the fish are. I was only thinking in terms of a cover for the paperback because of the cost of printing the innards in colour.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Hi, Cathy. I had some free time yesterday and worked on a possible cover for your book “The Merlings.” I know it shows up as “The Pond People” on your website, but I was more inspired to draw with the title “The Merlings.” I like it because it sounds like Merlin, the magician. And while designing and drawing, I tried to draw that magic into the cover illustration and to use dark and light patterns to create a feeling of mystery and secretiveness.

            Anyway, I’d like to send you a Dropbox link so you can check it out. It may not be at all what you imagine, and that is okay because I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. My email address is john.spiers@yahoo.com Thanks, and looking forward to seeing what you think!

            Oh, and I did it as a 6” x 9” cover, front and back. You may have a different size in mind, but that’s okay. The main elements are individual items which can be moved independently.

            Liked by 1 person

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