The Greeks had nine guiding geniuses of creative inspiration, the Nine Muses. Ancient Grecians knew how to please and solicit their help. So should we, as Creative Spirits. Inspiration is often fickle, unpredictable and unaccountable. What can we do to make sure that our free spirited Muses feel welcome and at home with us?
Of course, there is no one answer but there is a common denominator: what your muse wants from you is your time.
Many of us are familiar with the terrific idea that hits you in the middle of a business meeting or as you grab your keys and head out the door. But usually, the idea is lost by the time we are home and in front of the keyboard, at the easel, or behind the pen.
Muse-pleasing works on the same principle as dreamwork. Your Muse likes to be invited, just like dreams. Natalie Goldberg suggests, “showing up for work”- even if you sit there blankly for an hour and nothing happens, fingers disturbingly still. Set aside regular time to wait, to pay attention, to listen, to be there. However, muses are allergic to imperatives and don’t appear to place such a high price on producing as we do. They like us to give ourselves time to play and daydream, to think and ruminate, to muse and be amused.
What does your Muse look like? What kind of Muse do you have or do you want? What is her name? What does your Muse prefer? Does she prefer blues to classical; roses or daffodils? Does she have a favorite color or fragrance? Is she your sister, a mentor; a spirit or an intimate friend?
When we symbolize creative inspiration this way, we are more likely to set up the best atmosphere for keeping our Muses and our creative selves by extension, content and well fed. Inspiration needs nourishment and no one wants to starve his or her Muse. Museums, libraries, galleries, concerts, nature and bookstores keep your Muse interested and inspired– and your creativity in almost constant bloom.
Like people, Muses enjoy friends. Maybe you have developed relationships that scoff at your attempts and ignore your achievements but no self-respecting Muse stands for this. If you keep your Muse in mind, she will help you to choose friendships that will support and nurture your creativity.
Muses hate to be bored and many aspects of our culture do this- television, mall music and the erroneous idea that we exist to shop and buy in our pervasive advertising. When my Muse starts to snooze, I take it as an indication that I need to choose more things that keep Her awake and alert.
It’s difficult to engage your Muse when you are surrounded with noise and chaos. Vital to a muse is a private place. A converted garage, or attic or the corner of a room for your chosen form of art makes that private place for you and your Muse to form a deep and lasting kinship.
Lastly, some sort of regular, spiritual practice seems to please the Muse. Whether this includes meditation, a certain type of music, singing, drumming, prayer, burning candles, lighting incense or something completely different; it doesn’t matter. What matters is that if you feel dried out or burned up, spending some focused time on what inspires you and fills your dreams can bring you to the well and allows you to drink the water of creativity. Muses get thirsty too.