A Letter from your Muse

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NOTE: This was originally published as a guest blog at http://speculativesalon.blogspot.com
in May 2011. Enjoy!


Dear Writer,

Yes, it’s me—the Muse. You’ve been complaining for a while that I’ve been absent. How many times have you said something like “I can’t get in the flow” or “My muse has deserted me”?

Maybe you guessed that I went on an extended vacation. Or that I’ve simply disappeared.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve been here all this time. I know you find that difficult to believe, but it’s true. The Muses don’t lie. Never.

We take our work seriously.

You think the work of the Muses is easy? Fun? Magical?

Wrong. Wrong. And wrong.

Flow takes work. Writing takes work. And magic? That’s how you feel when you’re in that powerful creative flow. And yes, getting to that magical element takes work. It’s not something you can order, like pizza.

Think about it. Musicians practice. Athletes practice. Artists practice. A lot. It’s a commitment. So what is it with writers who expect to sit themselves down and just do it after not practicing their craft in a while?

As a Muse I like order and focus. I am available to those who commit themselves to their craft. Your actions and commitment create ENERGY and that energy FEEDS me.

How to begin? Take action. Write. A lot. Act as if, when you sit down to write, that you do this ALL THE TIME. That you have already begun. Write as if you ARE in the flow. As if I’m with you in this magical movement of ideas and thoughts and words that flow out of you as STORY.

The top two things that block me from BEING with you when you write are: your inner critic and YOU.

The inner critic has a place. When you are analyzing what idea to develop into a story, he is helpful. When you are planning the storyline, he is helpful.
When you are revising, he is helpful. When you are writing, send him off to do some errand or send him to Arizona. Just sent him away for this part of your writing process.

That’s right. You are your own worse enemy. You create resistance. You come up with all kinds of excuses not to write. You put off your writing as long as you can. Why? Because writing is like stepping out of your comfort zone. Writing is action. You are DOING something. (And it FEELS good!) So ask yourself: What’s stopping you? (HINT: Many times the response has to do with some FEAR.)

Somerset Maugham, when asked if he wrote on a schedule or when inspiration stuck, responded: “I write only when inspiration strikes me. Fortunately it strikes me every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Do you see what he’s saying? He’s committed. He takes ACTION. He’s practicing his craft. He’s connected.

What are you waiting for? (And when the excuses tumble out of you, ask yourself: WHY?)

The more you write, the more you HEAR me, UNDERSTAND me, and FEEL me. The more you write, the more you are CONNECTED to me, your Muse.

Without action, there is no connection, no flow. This is when you can’t find or feel me. This is when you feel deserted. So sit, write. I’m here…waiting.

Writing in the flow is not magical; it CREATES the magic. And this is flow. I’m here, ready, waiting. What about you?

The Muse

Tomorrow. . . Putting Off Success


Yesterday is but today’s memory,

and tomorrow is today’s dream.

–Khalil Gibran

You know what is said about “tomorrow” – “Tomorrow never comes.” Yes we do only have TODAY. (We can plan for our tomorrows, but I’m talking about what we make of our today.)

The “putting off” syndrome not only doesn’t get our writing (or whatever we’re putting off) done, it can leave us feeling: guilty, sad, depressed, overloaded, and exhausted.

Do you see what’s happening? First we put off something important to us and then we feel back about our actions (or lack of). So now we have the knowledge of what we haven’t done AND our feelings going against us. And this makes it easier the following day and the day after that to repeat this process.

We all need a wake up call! ASK YOURSELF: What am I’m waiting for?

And you probably came up with many answers:

When the kids are grown and out the door…

When I retire….

When I have more time…


STOP! Write down all those “reasons.” Now DESTROY that paper. Yes! Tear it up. Burn it. Flush it. Or whatever. Put those things behind you.

I’m here to tell you something important: You only have today. Today only happens once. DO your writing TODAY.

And when you wake up into a new TODAY. Repeat the above.

Success is however you define it: Big goals, everyday goals. It’s your definition of “success” that counts.

Recipe for Success:

Start with your DREAM. (This is one measure of your success.)

Break it down into SMART goals.

Break those down into BABY STEPS. (As small as you need them to be.)

The goals and baby steps are another measure of your success.

Devise a plan.

Follow the plan.

And when you repeat this for every TODAY you have, you’ve achieved your dream. You have SUCCEEDED!

BUILD success into your life and your TODAY will have meaning beyond what you might expect.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.

The important thing is not to stop questioning.

–Albert Einstein

Challenge for today: How can you be successful every DAY? What about TODAY?

Best Wishes,


I Know You, Resistance! – Steps to Overcoming What’s Stopping You


“The more important a call or action is

 to our soul’s evolution,

the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

–Steven Pressfield (from his book, DO THE WORK)

We all do it, no matter if we’re on our journey to realizing our writing dream or we’ve achieved some measure of success on that journey. We all face RESISTANCE. It’s another form of fear (remember those Doubt Demons?), and it can lead us astray.

Resistance is a tricky demon. It comes in many forms and flavors. Each of us has to be open to knowing when resistance is keeping us from our dream.

I’m guessing that most who read my blog are writers and you’ve made writing your dream. Writing is your passion. (If it’s not, you need to know what your dream is in order to overcome any resistance. Pressfield suggests that the one that you should choose to pursue is the one that “scares you the most.”)

Resistance is also explored in THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron (in Week 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength).  She talks about the ways we avoid our creative endeavors, such as:

  • I’m too old to do this.
  • What would I accomplish?
  • I’m too busy.
  • There are other things I should be doing first that are more important.
  • I have to do many other things to get ready to follow this dream.

Once you recognize the “resistance talk” that is stopping you, you can take corrective action to overcome this.

Think baby steps. Think daily, small actions and goals that you can do to move you beyond the resistance talk.

Think small in order to achieve big. Show up EVERY DAY to get your writing done.

Rely on the help and support of your writing group and writing buddy. Get support for your dream wherever you can find it. (If you have negativity in one place, leave it behind and drift to the positive side and positive people.)

Maybe you need a mentor and a formal class to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Once you’ve formally stated and defined your dream, think about it from inside that dream. Think of the question within your writing dream: Of all the things that you might do with your writing, what’s the one that scares you the most? (This gives you another clue about the focus of your writing journey.)

Go forth! Show the “resistance talk” a thing or two!

DO THE WORK by Steven Pressfield, author of THE WAR OF ART, is available for the Kindle at Amazon. Currently this book is FREE! Don’t delay in getting and reading your copy. If you don’t have a Kindle, download the free software to read the book on your computer or other device.

Challenge for today: What is your dream? What is your “inside the dream” dream?

Best Wishes,


A Challenge – The Push


What would happen if you pushed yourself to go that extra step or take that risk? What would happen if you encouraged someone else to do the same?

We all get comfortable where we are. Don’t get me wrong. That CAN work. But what more might be accomplished by taking that step away from our comfortable place, by taking that risk?

Before thinking about what you might push in your own life and as a gift for someone else, watch this video.


Wasn’t that amazing?

What can you do TODAY to push yourself or take a risk? And remember to give the gift of the push to someone else. Dream. Commit. Do.

If you decide to use this to move your writing forward, how might that look? Maybe you’ll decide to write every day. Maybe you will dig out that neglected manuscript and get working on your revision. Maybe you’ll take that finished manuscript or short story or article and submit it.

Go for your dream. It might be a baby step or a bigger one. DO it.

April is half over and I have not yet revised the opening of my novel-in-progress. I’ve been THINKING about it, and now is the time to DO. I want to begin posting it to my online writing group before the end of April. I need to push myself. Today, I will rework the beginning scenes of MURDER IN D MINOR.

Bump your life up to the next level and encourage at least one other person to do the same.

Challenge for today: Push yourself in some way and find a way to push another. Share, if you wish.

Best Wishes,


The Dreaded Doubt Demon


You are sitting on a hard, wooden chair with your hands on your computer keyboard. The light fades. It’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

A rough voice whispers in your ear….

Your writing sucks.

You’re not good enough.

You know nothing about story structure, plotting, or making characters do things that make sense.

No one would ever publish your writing.

And if you did manage to find a publisher or self-publish, no one will buy your book.

And if someone does buy your book, they aren’t going to like it….and they WILL let you know.

And if someone does buy your book, they aren’t going to like it…and they will tell everyone they know, the news will travel around the world seven times, and all your future stories are doomed…

You should save yourself before you have to endure all this rejection and criticism. Better to just give up your writing….

This thinking is from the Dreaded Doubt Demon. All writers have them. Published. Unpublished. It doesn’t matter.

Instead of listening or taking ownership of what this Demon is telling you, turn it around – take power – and shift the statements.

Look that dreaded doubt demon in the eye and shift every thought he’s ever tried to make you believe. (If he tries to get too nasty, laugh in his face. Go ahead. You can do it!)

He might laugh, growl, drool, or otherwise try to distract you in some way. JUST. DON’T. LET. HIM.

Your writing improves all the time.

You are AWESOME!

You are learning everything you can about story structure, plotting, and creating a character who connects with the reader.

You will find a publisher your writing.

Readers will buy your book.

They will let you know what they like about it. (And with all things subjective, some will like it more than others. And you have the strength, wisdom, and insight to handle those who don’t like your work.)

The reader will tell others about your writing, and you will get additional sales and fans around the world.

You will NEVER give up your writing dream.

If you need some support in overcoming your dreaded doubt demons, you might try:

Your writing buddy

Your writing group

Friends and family

Anyone else who is positive and supportive.

And if you need some extra special support on top of this, you can always resort to whips, automatic weapons, and chocolate. *GRIN* (I admit it. I’ve probably been reading a LOT of urban fantasy.)

Challenge for today: What are some of you Dreaded Doubt Demon statements that get you down or make you think of giving up your writing dream? How might you SHIFT those thoughts? Feel free to share!

Best Wishes,


If Only . . .


Too many times writers use this phrase: If only . . .

This is a way that we doom ourselves. Excuses. We all use them. All the time. So when you catch yourself saying “If only. . .” take a step back and look at what impact this has on you and your writing dream.

What would happen if you would turn these around? Shift these “if only” statements?

OLD: If I only had the time to. . .

NEW: What could I accomplish if I wrote 2000 words a day? 1000 words a day? 500?

After 30 days you’d have 60,000 words written. (Or 30,000 or 15,000)

In two to three months you’d have a novel drafted.

You DO have time. We all do. You are the one who decides how to use it.

Maybe you could write five days a week or even two days that you don’t have to deal with a day job or other obligations.

Think about how many words your novel might be and create a plan, based on how many words you can write a day and how many days a week you are going to write. Think of this as your own personal NaNo (short for NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month). Same concept—just a different focus of days and word counts that suit you.

OLD: If I only didn’t have all these interruptions. . .

NEW: What might I get done if I found a different place to write?

Can’t write at home because of interruptions? Maybe your significant other has questions that must be answered right now. Your children need help with something or want to tell you what a friend just told them. Your dog wants to go out for a walk. Your favorite TV show is coming on in ten minutes and it’s the season opener, so you can’t miss it.

When you can’t avoid distractions of the home, take your writing elsewhere. (Or put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign and stick to it unless someone is bleeding to death or the house is on fire.)

Try working at the local coffee shop, library, or your favorite restaurant. What about a park or other outdoor area if the weather is good.

I know a writer who goes outside, starts her car, and writes from the driveway while her husband is inside with her small children.

OLD: If only I could finish. . .

NEW: I can finish this novel or short story if I make a plan or have goals.

Do you have a story you’ve been working on for years? What if you JUST FINISHED IT?

Instead of your friends and fellow writers asking you when you’re going to finish, their questions can move to ones like: Have you heard back from that agent or publisher? When did you say your story was going to appear in that magazine?

Don’t just have an ongoing story. FINISH. Finish one story. Begin another. Submit. Submit. Submit.

Make a workable plan that you know is doable for you.

OLD: If only I didn’t have all this other stuff. . .

NEW: I can decide what’s important to me and focus on that.

Make a list of the “stuff” in your life. What are you willing to shift around or give up in order to finish your story and move your writing dream to the forefront of your life?

Prioritize your list of “stuff.” If you put your writing at or near the top, what falls below your dream?

You’ll always have “stuff” in your life that you feel you must do. The question is: Is it more important than your story?

OLD: If only I could quit my day job. . .

NEW: When my writing is making me money, I’ll consider giving up my day job.

Some writers are more of a risk taker than I am. They take the plunge and go for their dream. I am proud when anyone has that kind of focus.

For many of us, quitting a day job would create more stress, more frustration, more distractions than keeping the job AND moving forward with our writing dream.

You CAN do both, if you choose. Remember that what you fill your day with is YOUR choice. I only ask you to choose wisely, in a way that you come to realize your dream.

OLD: If only I had a good idea for a story. . .

NEW: I’m a creative person who has many great story ideas.

Writers have ideas. Revisit your list of story ideas. Brainstorm new ones if none of those on you list speak to you. Ask yourself questions: What am I passionate about? If I could volunteer with an organization, what would that be? Why do I care about this <fill in the blank>?

There are a thousand ways to generate story ideas. If you are drawing a blank, consider this two-day experience: During this time, jot down your childhood memories as you think of them. Start with the earliest thing you can think of from your past. Use one or more experiences to create a story idea as a starting point.

Challenge for today: What is your “If only” excuse? How might you shift that around? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Best Wishes,


An Angel to Watch Over Me


A couple of months ago, a package arrived, and I couldn’t remember what I could have possibly ordered. Then I saw the label and torn into it. It was the angel that Joan said she would make and send me. She had previously asked me what my favorite color was – green. Yes! It was the angel that Joan created for me, all carefully wrapped and wearing green.

She was beautiful – both the angel and Joan, a special person, friend, and one of the wonderful people at ePress-Online.

Joan Pulver died in her sleep Monday night. I will miss her.

I am lucky and honored to have met her in person at the EPICon the year it was held in Virginia Beach. Even though she was on oxygen and often times not feeling well, she had more passion and energy than many of us. She was always thinking of others and dedicated to writing and writers.

My heart goes out to her family and friends. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Now, I have two angels watching over me.

Best Wishes,


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