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What do you do when your muse visits?

In the introduction to The Name of the Rose, a historical novel by Umberto Eco, the author writes, “There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past . . . As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbé de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.”

Have you ever had a vision or idea for a book “as yet unwritten”? I’m guessing you have. In fact, I’m guessing you’ve probably had lots of them.

Now this may sound weird and woo-woo to some of you, but if you’ve ever struggled to come up with an idea, for any extended period of time, and then all of a sudden that idea comes as a complete whole to you, you may know what I’m talking about.  And I’m not talking just about writing; I think this applies to any creative endeavor whether it’s writing, sculpting, painting, drawing or even just imagining.

When we are ready for ideas and at a place in our lives where we can act on them, they come.

This happened to me for my novel when I met my writing muse. I had traveled to visit my mom and slept in late (for me) on a Sunday morning.  When I woke up, I dozed and lay in bed for another hour and a half or so. During that sleepy, half-awake, perfectly content state, I got an entire idea for a complete novel.  It was like my muse had arrived to tell me this story.

As soon as I woke up all the way, I grabbed my journal and wrote down the whole thing. But then came the hard part, I had to write the book which took almost 18 months from the initial idea, and there lies the challenge.

Often, our muses visit us and fill us with fabulous ideas, but its actually finishing them that is the hard part because throughout the process our muses visit us again . . . and again . . . and yet again with great ideas we want to start.  Jot those down in your writer’s notebook, and then go back to your current work in progress and finish it. That is the goal.

If you don’t have a “future projects” page set up in your notebook, do it now. You never know when your muses will visit and you want to be ready.  Either open up a new file on your computer OR turn to a clean page in your notebook. Then, sit quietly and jot down all those fabulous ideas that you want to get to someday. Clear them out of your brain to open up room for your current “work in progress” or choose your favorite idea and get started.

In the comments below, share your ideas for capturing those elusive visits from your muses and keeping focused on finishing your current projects before starting too many at once.

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