Following The Muse

This November I started with the intent of participating in and winning NaNoWriMo. I outlined my story, planned the details, and when November first hit I started pounding away at the keys. I wrote and wrote and wrote until I ran off the edge of a cliff and had to rethink my strategy.

At some point while I was trying to reconsider my plot and write my way around the holes in my setting my computer keeled over. Okay, fine. I swapped to my laptop and continued trying to work while I worked on repairing my desktop. After installing my new HDD and beginning to transfer files around I found it.

There it was, the missing 10k of last year’s manuscript that I’ve been agonizing over and trying to replace for no less than six months. It was all there. Needless to say I was somewhere between frustrated (because I had just started working on it again) and elated. Dumbstruck, I scrolled through what I’d written. It was in that moment my muse shifted gears. She kicked me in the head and said, “HEY! Remember this story? Remember this whole series you were going to make out of it? Stop slacking and get to it!”

“But I’m writing my NaNo project!” I protested. “I don’t have time for this right now! Can’t it wait until after November?”

“Don’t make me get the frying pan.”

So, in fear for my life, I started working on the discarded project. I brought it with me when my husband and I went on vacation for a few days to an internet-free cabin in the woods my family owns. I sat down at that laptop and the words pounded onto the page. Chapter after chapter poured out of me until that magic moment happened: I hit the end.

In two days I had written over 10,000 words and finished my book.

Now, a secret about me most of you don’t know is that I haven’t finished an entire novel of my own since high school. No joke. I have published short stories and poetry, but the novels in my head have been waiting to come out for ages. After finishing it I stared at the screen dumbly for a few minutes before whooping in excitement and eating a celebratory cookie. Or four. Who’s counting?

The point of this blog is that – short of deadlines and paid work – you should follow your muse. If you are being driven to write something then write that story. Tell it. I don’t mean to encourage writing ADD, but if your whole muse is driving you toward another project don’t be afraid to follow her.

There’s no secret that we writers have fickle muses. After “losing” that 10k  of my novel I was destitute and frustrated. I thought my world had ended and woe is me. I’m sure you all can tell since I wrote a few whiny blog entries about it and have mentioned it multiple times since. My muse deserted me and went to Havana for a few months. But when she came back it was like a whirlwind and I had to work on that novel. There was no escaping it, and there was no avoiding it.

Unless you have income riding on these projects never be afraid to go where your heart is telling you to go. You will write better and more fully if you are in a place where you are able to throw your whole being into what you’re writing. If you can’t do that you’re only half-assing it, and we all know that isn’t going to really cut the mustard when it comes down to it. Sure, you can fix it in editing, but unless your mind is in that book it just isn’t the same.

So, the tl;dr of this? Don’t make her get the frying pan. JUST WRITE IT.

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2 thoughts on “Following The Muse

  1. Sam says:

    I’ve been struggling with this myself. I’m trying to re-write last year’s NaNo this time around and all the editing and re-writing is making me think about the manuscript I love and want to work on. It’s a discipline for me; I’m using NaNo to help make writing a habit again. I can see myself jettisoning off in the middle of the month to another manuscript, but only if I give the re-write a good honest try first.
    Happy writing.

    • E. Prybylski says:

      Thanks for the well wishes. I definitely hear you on that score. I got a few thousand words in when my Muse started beating me up until I took up this manuscript and kept working on it. In my understanding of NaNo it’s mostly to make writing a habit again anyway, so if you get that out of it then go for it. Full steam ahead, and good luck!

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