The Care and Feeding of a Hyperactive Muse

I am a very disorganized writer, and basically lazy.

At least my conscious mind is.

The Muse, AKA my subconscious, not so much. In fact, hyperactive is probably not the right term, but . . . Well let’s just say that one day, about . . . oh dear . . . Twenty-five years ago? Before Y2K. On Baen’s Bar, when both older and younger and definitely wiser than me writers were complaining about their muses being in control, yours truly (with a single completed novel out for the consideration of a publisher) posted—right there in public—that my Muse was entirely under the control of my conscious mind.

Close to a year later the Muse’s outrage ebbed, she put down the whip, took off the spurs. and left me staring at this huge mass of words. And dared my conscious mind to make something of that huge mess.

Whew, what a job. I not only learned to be polite to that frustratingly uncommunicative subconscious of mine, I quickly learned, and learned to appreciate, the art of editing. I turned the mess into four novels, with a lot of extra stuff left over and needing to be considered later for the continuing adventures in the Universe, etc.

And none of it sold. Then Amazon started up the Kindle Direct Publishing.

In not quite eleven years I’ve published something like sixty novels and novellas (how much of each depends on what word count you choose for the dividing line) as well some collections and individual shorts and shorts in magazines and anthologies.

And my lazy conscious is behind on polishing, editing, covers, getting copy edits from people who know those wretched commas are supposed to go . . .

And the Muse gallops on ahead, laughing at me.

Most of the time.

Once I started paying attention I realized there were plenty of things that would silence the Muse.

Antihistamines were the most obvious, decongestants I could take longer, but . . .  

Diet sodas had to be rare, once they started using aspartame . . .

Did much better on  a lo carb diet.

Then the cholesterol med . . .

Oh dear, is it getting worse as I get older? Or is it just that the doc is DX’ing things I never needed?

After two weeks of floundering around producing a few bland sentences I have added all COX-2 inhibitors (pain killer for my arthritic knees) to the list of things to avoid.


Are you have problems with writer block?

Oh, it’s a real thing. If I take the story a direction the Muse does like, she goes on strike until I back up and do it right. But more usually it’s a matter of food drink and especially the wretched antihistamines.

Next time you have trouble, think about what you’re taking or eating. Have you tried a Low Carb diet? Started chugging diet sodas?

Is it life threatening, or just seasonal allergies?

I am not a doctor. Don’t stop taking anything that’s keeping you alive.

But be kind to your Muse.

If you’re like me, losing the ability to transfer ideas to the screen is worse than any allergy attack, and the knees?

The best pain killer is sitting here with the words pouring out, lost in the worlds of my imagination.

And here’s the first ever complete novel which I finally fixed and published. Beauty Queens and Space Pirates, what’s not to like?

11 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of a Hyperactive Muse

  1. You’re amazing Pam. I say ditching the pain killers was a good move. Muse over matter. One of our common traits has always been attitude and perseverance 🙂

    1. A doctor in my online circle explained it to me once in large hyphenated word about just which brain chemicals were getting messed up. All I can do is keep trying an eliminate what’s messing me up. Fortunately tylenol and aspirin are okay.

    1. Yeah, when I’ve gone wrong on a story, switching can get me out of the rut, and I can see how to fix, or where to go back to, to get the story rolling again.

      It would be so much easier if the subconscious was better at normal communications.

  2. I’m in a weird spot right now. I’ve finished my core work on the last project, and have the beginnings of ideas and characters for the next project, but it’s set in a space I just don’t know enough about to really start. (I.e. What could a sociopathic monster actually do in the wild west? It’s not like money laundering was even a thing before ubiquitous tracking, was it?)

    At the same time I think I need to make sure to keep writing, even if none of it will ever actually make a story. Maybe just start writing little character scenes to start getting my head around the characters? Setting a 15-30m requirement to put something on paper?

    I’ve got the first layer

    1. Ah! Research! You know the weird thing about the Wild West? The East Coast was very civilized at the same time. Research them both, and you could have a Sociopath from New England having difficulties when he winds up in the wild west.

      You can try writing mini scenes which might or might not get into the draft, but that cements the characters in your mind. Or describe the places you’re planning to use, whether real or imaginary. That also helps later writing. Even when you get it wrong. “Oops, I forgot I needed a bank . . .”

      1. Interesting. The setting is actually scifi, in a region that should be around wild west tech level, so the question is how connected can I make it to the more ‘civilized’ parts without turning it into an Africa instead (i.e. shorter trip to Paris than to your neighboring country) or if that would even cause issues with the story at all?

        And since realizing Wondrium has a ton of courses on the American West, life in various time periods, and what not, and the realization I can eu these in the background of the various games I play (farming dungeons for gear in ESO or flying the Bonanza V-tail VFR in MS Flight Sim) I can easily see myself falling down the research rabbit hole for months on end…

          1. Yeah. I’m thinking it’s far enough in the boondocks that rail is the only common link back to the developed areas, and the undeveloped areas are still populated by the wild things left over from the bad times.

            Basically, the ring got depopulated because it’s controller went nuts and tried to kill everyone on it for a century or two. That’s been fixed now, but it takes time, people, and interest to repopulate something that big, so most of it is still wild and dangerous by the time of this story.

  3. One I’ve run into– are you feeding/exercising your muse?

    Stuff that’s *fun* to read, be it fanfic, books, Interesting Science? Do something mindless while blasting music? (Elliptical for me!) Go look at pretty pictures?

  4. My muse . . . has been nudging me about something. I ignored it. Then an illustration in the Castlevania (TV series) book poked me even harder. So I had to write a very short little scene or two, and the Muse giggled and said, “Now you know what to do about that movie that bugged you. Go forth, research since you have the books, and write. Oh, and keep researching that other book that you started, and the series that is underway. All of which are unrelated.” Then the Muse started cackling like a mad scientist and went out for icecream.

    For me, anything that dampens emotions dampens creativity as far as stories. I can do description, and editing, but writing character scenes and emotions is much harder.

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