On getting my muse to shut up for a bit…

I’ve read a lot of writing advice discussing how to get your muse to talk to you. While this seems to be helpful to some, my problem is mostly I can’t get mine to shut up. Ever.

Muse, in this case refers to a little bit of constantly running internal commentary, often a source of ideas, inspiration, and daydreams. A lot of writers personify this bit of internal commentary in order to get it more defined and productive; and to talk about “that voice in my head that tells me to write things and throws tantrums when I don’t” without sounding quite so nutty.

Mostly I’ve found that having a muse that won’t shut up is a good thing. I’m not likely to run out of ideas any time soon, for one. For another, sometime’s she’s the best conversation I get all day.

On the other hand, sometimes you could use a little internal peace and quiet. Like when you’re trying to sleep. Or you’re working on something else. Or you’re really trying to sleep.

If you don’t have a muse, you might have a voice that talks to you about your to-do list at this time. Or maybe it talks about that one time you messed up in high-school and everyone laughed (or didn’t laugh, and wasn’t that worse?).  Congrats, that’s your muse being grumpy. My muse talks about those things too, but she also talks about stories. A lot of stories.

I stave off the flood of stories before bedtime in two ways.

I write things down during the day. I keep a pen and little notebook handy to jot down ideas as they come to me. This staves off a good portion of the flood. There’s nothing like a muse who’s being ignored for “reminding” you constantly of that idea you had today. And wouldn’t it be better if….

I also meditate before bed for about 10 minutes. Seriously this has been the biggest improvement. Just the practice of learning to say “Yes, thank you, but that’s not what we’re doing now,” has been incredibly helpful. I use an app called Insight Timer to keep track of when I meditate. It also has guided meditations, some specifically for writers. I highly recommend it. If that’s not for you, mediation can be as simple as sitting comfortably and counting your breaths in and out.

So, do you have a muse that won’t shut up? How do you deal with it?


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