How to Harness Your Writing Muse

5 minute read

I’m a big believer in my writing Muse. Although she might be sporadic in her visits, she always makes me feel special. Like I’m the only writer in the world who can put those specific words down on paper… because I am. And so are you.

Your words, your ideas, your experiences, your story elements are unique. Just think of all the online content, literature, and everything else that has been published… yet none of it has your mind, heart, and talent in it.

So, where exactly does your Muse come in, when you’re working on a project for your client or writing your heart out for your own project… maybe a novel?

Keep reading to explore:

> Exactly what a Muse is…
> How you can use her to your advantage…
> What type of imprint she leaves on a writer…
> How long you should write when your Muse makes herself known…
> If there’s anything bad/negative about using your Muse.

What is a writing Muse?

As a verb, “muse” (lower case “m”) is to consider something thoughtfully and thoroughly. As a noun, Muse (capital “M”) is a source of inspiration.

Muses have their history in ancient Greek culture. They were the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. But the Muses weren’t fairies or wizards or sprites.

Instead, people would get a feeling of excitement, of inspiration… a happening. And, if that feeling translated into something genius, they would say they’d been visited by their Muse.

In Greek mythology, the nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (pronounced neh-mow-zeen). They are:

  • Clio (history)
  • Euterpe (flutes and music, lyric poetry)
  • Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry)
  • Melpomene (tragedy)
  • Terpsichore (dance)
  • Erato (love poetry and lyric poetry)
  • Polyhymnia (sacred poetry, hymns)
  • Urania (astronomy)
  • Calliope (epic poetry) — seen as the most important Muse.

Your Muse doesn’t have to be any of these. You could give her a name. I recommend getting a little creative here. Not that you can’t name it “Frankie,” “Bob,” or “Lucy,” but think about what name would fit your Muse perfectly.

Before writing this article, I’d never named mine… so welcome, for the first time, Utopia!

How does a Muse affect a writer?

Since a Muse is basically inspiration, certain situations can stimulate and invite her. When I go to a funeral or a wedding, or have an experience that’s deeply moving, my Muse usually stops by.

She shows up at other times, too, but I can count on her to be there during the important moments.

Those creative feelings that bubble up can affect how well and how quickly you write. When your mind races with ideas, words, and concepts, it’s best to take advantage and get them down on paper one way or another.

When you do, you make it more likely your Muse will show up more often.  

And remember, your Muse isn’t subject-specific. You could be inspired to write about planting tomatoes or traveling to Bermuda. If the words flow like you turned on a faucet, if you can’t type fast enough… your Muse is visiting. Do your best to make her feel welcome.

How long should you write when your Muse is around

Write as long as your Muse shows herself.

When you start slowing down, or your writing starts feeling like you’re sludging through quicksand, it’s likely your Muse is ending her visit.

There’s a reason not to just push through when she leaves. That kind of inspiration — when you’re focused and getting your thoughts down in a flurry before they slip away —  uses up a lot of energy.

Be grateful for the magical feeling of overflowing with ideas and also be grateful for the rest that comes after.

Having said that, there is a time and place for just pushing through. If you’ve got a deadline looming, you may have to keep at it, even when the moment of inspiration has passed.

But if you can rest, do.

When my Muse shows up, sometimes I feel like I’ve run a mile afterwards. Trying to keep writing isn’t terribly productive, so I give myself some time before I come back to the project. Sometimes just a day or two, sometimes more.

Is there anything negative about a Muse?

It’s important to have a healthy relationship with your Muse.

When she arrives, it can send thoughts and ideas racing through your mind.

There’s a physical reaction, an adrenaline rush, that comes with a visit from the elusive goddess. If your response is to think, “Oh, I’ll remember that and write it down later,” that often doesn’t work.

You’ll have all this energy and nowhere to put it, which can be stressful. And, it can result in a bunch of lost ideas, which can be frustrating.

I recommend having a go-to strategy for jotting down ideas that come to you, so you can capture them immediately.

If at all possible, adopt the rule that, if the Muse strikes, you’ll change your focus to capitalize on the inspiration and motivation she brings.

While some writers put off writing when the Muse visits, others fall into the trap of thinking their Muse has to be present to write anything worth reading.

I believe we can always write — Muse or no Muse — and when the writing is slow to come out, we should lean into it and write anyway. I’ve also found doing that can attract the Muse.

Giving your inspiration the personification of a Muse can make you more aware of it, and that can help you take better advantage of those moments of brilliance. Just remember, your Muse can come at any time. Sometimes it’s when you’re lying in bed trying to sleep, and sometimes it’s when you’re smack-dab in the middle of something.

Recognize it for what it is, and get your words down as soon as possible. Your Muse doesn’t mess around by wearing out her welcome, and the ideas can simply vanish. But the more you capture them, the more often your Muse will show up. And the happier you’ll be with the work you’re doing.

Can you summon your Muse?

Unfortunately, trying to will the incredible inspiration to come to you isn’t likely to happen. It’s not like a magic lamp, where you rub it and a genie pops out. Your Muse has her own timetable.

But that said, you can entice your Muse…

Are there things you can do to make it easier for your Muse to appear?

While creating inspiration is difficult, you can set the stage to make it easier for it to come to you.

Try things like:

  • Getting enough sleep. If your head’s bobbing, and you’re yawning from a poor night’s sleep, it’s not the ideal situation for inspiration to hit, no matter where it’s coming from.
  • Be as prepared as you can be. If you’re going to an emotional event like a graduation, make sure you’ve allotted time afterwards to write just in case your Muse makes an appearance.
  • Always have a pen and a notepad with you or use your phone to take down anything that comes to you. I can’t tell you how many times my ideas have floated away because I didn’t get the words recorded in time.
  • Create a document just for your Muse’s red-carpet entrance. This way you have a blank slate just waiting for whatever idea strikes you… whether it’s the seed for an article, a line for a poem, or the plot to a new book.


Now that you’ve got the heads-up on all things Muse, you’ll understand the feeling that comes over you when inspiration strikes.

P.S. I’ll tell Utopia you said hello.