Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Most Fun Suggestion I've Heard for Cooking Up a New Story

Jean Roberta's Sex Is All Metaphors includes a great essay called "The Fickle Muse," about how to cook up new ideas when nothing seem fresh. Advice about writer's block abounds, but I really like the physicality of Roberta's discussion of it:

Focusing on each part of your body in turn, from feet to head or vice versa, is the best way I know of to reawaken the Muse. And despite what prudish authority figures have told you about the animal stupidity of human flesh, physical feelings are rarely crude or simple. (For that matter, even animals have their own wisdom, as pet- owners know.)

Just for the moment, data on which genres are still selling well in a troubled publishing market have no relevance. Feet, arms, tummy and all the other parts connected to them don't care about the market. Neither do they care about deadlines, guidelines, negative reviews, wars in the blogosphere, or grammatical issues. There is a place for all those things, but they don't belong in a quiet room prepared for the Muse.

I don't really believe in writer's block as its own special thing, but I know slumps occur in people's lives and jam them up in various ways for various reasons. Roberta's advice seems like it would be good in any such case, and the full version of the essay gets a little more sensual in its description of how the body can be listened to.

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