When Your Muse Goes On Strike

Many writers, professional and not, are at the mercy of very fickle Muses. Like OWS protestors or Union workers, Muses are very good at showing you their dissatisfaction, but not so good on explaining why or how to remedy it. For this reason I have written a list of common symptoms.

The symptoms of a Muse on strike include (but are not limited to):

    Temporary Attention Deficit Disorder
    Obsession with a particular hobby (that isn’t writing)
    A blank feeling when looking at an empty word processing screen
    A feeling of self-pity that you are unable to write about
    Sudden interest in friends lives on social media
    The conviction that you will never sell your novel
    An overwhelming urge to clean and organize
    An interest in your ‘real’ job at work

There are other symptoms, and you may feel free to include them in your reply below (along with your prognosis and prescription).

The first thing you will need to do with your striking Muse is bring it to the table for negotiation. This usually involves bribes and bargains or outright deception. A few suggestions for a bribe/bargain/deception includes (but is not limited to):

    Dedicating a specific time slot for writing every day*
    A promise to dedicate your novel to them
    A promise to buy another cat**
    A bribe with chocolate or expensive cheese
    Attendance to the next writers conference^
    A trip to Starbucks#
    Promising to limit trips to Wal-Mart to once a month
    Various other promises/bribes/deceptions

In many cases the negotiations never start and a third party has to be involved. The most effective negotiators are almost always either editors or writing coaches. I have my personal favorites:

Richard Krawiec


Lynnette Labelle

But there are hundreds of them on the internet (a good list is at http://www.fundsforwriters.com). Make sure you get some references because Muses often refuse to work with editors without them.

Often a Muse will have to be coddled like a child, but remember that good, clear discipline is still the best thing for Muses and children alike. Do not be cowed into an inferior position by your Muse. Stand your ground. There are several threats you can use to keep Muses in line, but the most effective is to threaten to write free verse poetry or haiku’s.

What do you do when your Muse goes on strike?

*note that even with this time slot, your Muse may not show up to work, deciding instead to take the alloted sick/vacation days that will be negotiated after said bribe)
**Muses are distinctly cat people though they will never clean out a cat box
^Online conferences do not count since a Muse can’t meet other muses this way
#There is no explanation for a Muse’s fondness for Starbucks