5 Tricks to Find Your Muse If You’ve Only Got a Few Minutes

We’re all busy and lead crazy, hectic lives. Kids, work, volunteer opportunities, pets, more work, housework, friends, blogging, and whew! Life makes us crazy, tired and scattered brained. We don’t always have hours to spend on our writing, waiting for our muse.

Ready, Set, Write!

But what if you’ve actually found a few minutes in your busy day? You’ve managed to resist the temptation to watch bad reality TV and veg on the couch. So you slide onto your desk chair, flick on your computer, open your work in progress and stare at it while a million things that you need to do rip through your thoughts like crazed hamsters. Your email and internet icon hover enticingly at the edge of your screen, saying “Click me. Click me. You know you want to.” Before you know it, your time has vanished and your muse never showed.

This happens to me all the time. I like to think I’m doing a good thing by sitting at my desk, but I can still find my brain distracted by a gazillion things and end up wasting the precious little time I have. So, if we’re on a time crunch, how do we calm our brains and set ourselves up for the best possible writing session? Here are five tricks that help me get into the zone quickly.

1. Keep a pad of paper by your side. When your stray thoughts pop into your head screaming for attention, write them down. Usually the thoughts involve things that we need to do. So make a To-Do list. The act of writing them down quells the urge to do whatever-it-is immediately, and you can get back to writing.

2. Start your writing session with ‘free writing’. This is where you write anything that flows through your mind. I usually start by bitching about whatever is on my mind and then moving into a list of what I need to do, then it ends up being a list of fears about my story, which in turn leads to writing my story. This whole process takes less than five minutes. I find it a great way to calm my mind and let my muse in.

3. Meditate. You don’t have to go completely zen, sitting in lotus pose and saying Ohmmmm. Instead close your eyes and forcibly clear your mind by concentrating on your breathing. Just deep breaths, in and out. In only a couple of minutes, you can calm your thoughts, focus on your story, and find your muse. Or perhaps have a great 30 minute nap.

4. Time your writing. I am always trying to limit my social media time. I set my most annoying timer for 15 minutes and then let myself loose on twitter, blogs, etc… Inevitably, at the 15 minute mark, I shut off the annoying horn blasting from my phone and decide to just read one last blog. 30 minutes later, I’ve wasted my writing time. Now, I time my writing. I tell myself I only have to write for 15 minutes and then I can play on social media. And wouldn’t you know it? I usually run over my time because I’m in such a flow.

5. Keep your Writing Space a Sanctuary. Everyone needs a writing space, but most especially if you have a hectic household. If you try to write in the middle of chaos, where people feel they can interrupt you, (especially if they’re little people under four feet tall) then your muse will never visit you. If you are able to keep your writing space only for writing, then just the act of sitting down to write will sooth some of life’s craziness from you. (And if you regularly sit down to write, then your muse will be waiting for you, tapping her foot and saying, ‘let’s get this show on the road!’ But that might be another post.)

I hope these tips help. Have I missed any? What do you do when life’s craziness doesn’t let you get into a decent writing zone?

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About Trish Loye

Trish is a wannabe astronaut disguised as a stay-at-home mom who drinks too much tea and tries to stay sane by writing down the crazy stories in her head.
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18 Responses to 5 Tricks to Find Your Muse If You’ve Only Got a Few Minutes

  1. Adriana Ryan says:

    I heart, heart, heart 4 & 5. So agree! I’ve started timing myself while writing, and it’s awesome. It makes me write faster, smarter, and usually, I will go over the time limit just like you. And WOW, it’s incredible how much easier it is to write when my space is CLEAN. Last weekend, I bought a tinkling water fountain type thing and a lovely-smelling candle, and the space is even better now. It makes me want to sit there, respect my time, and actually work rather than just goof off. :) Great tips!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I love the idea of a little water fountain. I’m definitely going to have to look into that!

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Amanda says:

    I clean, eaither myself in the shower or my house with a notepad and pen closeby, and pretend how my characters would act in a specific scene. Doesn’t matter if it’s just b.s. or whatever, but if it feels like it could work I stop to jot down the idea. I find that sitting at my computer blank I stay blank, but if I have a basic idea I just run with it in the moment. Can you tell I’m still on my first draft of my WIP? Also some of my best ideas come when I’m just laying down to go to bed when my mind finally quiets down enough to hear my characters, so I always keep a pad and pen on my nightstand. Drives my s.o. crazy, but what can you do?

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I also get a ton of ideas in the shower (not so many when I clean the house!). I think there’s something about the running water that soothes my mind (and also the fact that my mind knows I can’t leave the shower until I’m finished so I’m not bombarded with things I have to do). Unfortunately it’s not always practical for me to take showers when I want to write! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. Elena Aitken says:

    As you may recall, I’m not sure I totally believe in the muse theory and if I did, I’d kick her ass. BUT…these are GREAT tips for getting yourself focused (which I need SO bad) and getting it done.
    I’m off to write. But first…one more blog…

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      You are hilarious. And I think you’ve probably not only kicked your muse’s ass, you’ve got her chained to your desk, so she’s always there for you. Just sayin’. ;)

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Jody Robbins says:

    That was so useful. Would love to see more posts like this. I’m definitely going to try #2 tomorrow. Thanks!

  5. AJ Larrieu says:

    These are great tips! I have a newborn, so I just went from regularly having hours of uninterrupted writing time to never having more than thirty minutes at a stretch. I definitely need ways to make those minutes count. Thanks for this!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I know how crazy it is with a newborn. Remember to go easy on yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you fall asleep instead of writing. It happens. Especially if you try meditating! Good luck and thanks for dropping by.

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. Emma says:

    I’m going to try out the meditation idea. I need to learn how to breathe properly :)

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      If the meditating doesn’t work, then try stretching. Hold a stretch (of any sort) for a count of twenty. Keep doing stretches until your mind is clear and you’re ready to write. Hope it helps. Thanks for commenting, Emma.

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. nancymhayes says:

    Tip:
    Stick a big piece of plain newsprint in the fridge door. Attach a felt pen somewhere near by. As you run around trying to find the “note pad at your side” jot your thoughts/notes on the fridge. Draw pictures, diagrams, arrows, and write down good words. Have fun. Relax. Your muse is there. nh

  8. Jess Witkins says:

    I do all of these! My favorites are keeping paper nearby to jot down ideas as they come or even just to think “out loud” on paper helps me sort through a problem. And I like the time your writing. I survived as far into NaNo as I did using timed writing to keep me going no matter what.

    Gonna try the meditation one more; I was just thinking to myself I wanted to do that more consistently anyway.

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