There are two schools of thought about writing (in the most general terms). The school that says that you must wait for the muse to come by and give you inspiration. And the school that says you should sit your butt in the chair and write even when the muse is vacationing in Florida. As with anything of this sort, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Getting writing done is a lot about getting in the groove. That sounds a lot like waiting for the muse, except that getting in the groove is something that you can control. You just have to figure out how to find your groove reliably. Because unlike your muse, your groove doesn’t go on vacation.
Your groove is made up of several things, unique to you. It could include things like your chair, certain music, specific people, rituals, clothes, food, drinks, etc. It is possible to have multiple grooves. I for example have one groove that lives in my office at home and another that lives at my favorite gaming and sandwich shop. Getting into each groove is a little different, but they are both very productive for me.
At home, getting into the groove involves playing some of my computer games to relax, and giving the cats a chance to get into their favorite positions. They won’t let me write when I first enter the office, so I’ve just made it part of my ritual to deal with them first. Once the writing starts, everyone is in place and I can’t get out of the chair without disturbing them. It keeps me in the chair and as long as I’m in the chair the words will come. Part of getting things set up though means having my big mug filled with water and something warm around my feet (sometimes it’s a cat and sometimes it’s a heating pad). It takes a while to get into, but once I’m there, I’m never at a loss for words.
At the gaming store, getting in the groove is easier. All I have to do is get into my table (they actually reserve it for me and my writing group on Tuesdays) and get my chili. The guys know my order so well they start it when they see me walking up to the door. There is something nice about having other people help get you into the groove. Then I just have to plug in, put the ear buds in and start the music. The words flow.
I have to say that it sounds wonderful and impossible, but it took me a while to get these groove set. A groove is a lot about habit. Do it over and over again and your mind and body will feel the need to write when you start the process of getting into the groove. I don’t need my muse to be present when I’m writing as long as I have my groove. It helps when she’s sitting here beside me, to be sure. Then the writing is fast and inspired. Nothing could be better. When she’s not, the writing still happens, it just takes a little more effort.
The one thing that I’ve noticed is that the quality of the writing isn’t appreciably different when the writing is hard compared to when it comes easy. I’m in the groove, that’s all that matters and whether it’s fast or slow, it’s all about the same. There are days when the typos are atrocious (and sometimes quite funny). That can happen when the muse is here and my fingers are flying faster than my brain can think or on the days when I’m not sure what the next word will be and the typos are just a way to give me more time to think.
There is also something to being regular about what days I write. I know that I’m going to write on Tuesdays. When Tuesday night comes around I’m ready to write even before I get to the shop. I can’t imagine that I won’t write on a Tuesday. Even if I can’t make it to the shop, I will find a way to write. I also write on Saturday mornings, in my office. Even the cats know that it’s Saturday and yowl at me if I don’t get to the office early enough. I wake on Saturdays ready to write. The words are just waiting for me to get close enough to the key board to start dripping out of my fingertips. Again there are times when the muse is sitting next to me and days when I’m pretty sure she’s off on a cruise in the Bahamas. It doesn’t matter for more than how quickly to words come.
That’s the thing about the muse. She doesn’t give you the stories or the ideas. She just makes it easier to access the words. The stories and ideas are yours. They live in your brain and your dreams. What you need is a way to get to them. The muse is one way. The groove is another way. The groove is what you get when you sit your butt in the chair every day and write. Don’t worry about whether it’s easy every time. Sometimes writing is work. That’s what it takes to make a career out of this hobby.
So stop waiting for your muse and get out there and build your groove. Then get into it and get going. Next thing you know you’ll have your novel finished and three more begging to be written.