Muse Juice

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A recent post on writenotright got me thinking about what fuels my muse.  Whenever I sit down to write, a number of elements are needed to please my fickle muse. She’s a little more cooperative when the Top Ten List is in play:

1)    A clean computer.  Most of my writing is done on a white MacBook, which gets dirty easily and often.  If there’s even one small smudge of dirt, I’m so consumed by the need to clean it I can’t write a thing.  Before heading out to my favorite coffee shop, I always check to make sure its clean.  Awesome tip: I’ve found Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the best product to clean a matte finish Mac.  It zaps every stain and makes my Mac look brand new.

2)    My “spot.”  I’ve been going to the same Barnes & Noble café for the last five years.  My novel was born there and so was this blog, along with countless other writing projects.  In particular, I have a favorite table that lets me observe the door, the café, and the book floor.  It’s a great spot for people watching when I need a character in a pinch.  I’ve made some great friends among the employees and the regulars, which makes this place a true second home.  Not to mention, they make great coffee!

3)    A Tall Café Mocha.  The title for this post comes from my favorite cup of coffee. This stuff is truly my muse juice as it has had a place next to my computer from the very beginning.  From outlining to revising the third draft I have relied on my muse juice to keep me focused and relaxed.  Besides that, its chocolate coffee.  What more could I want in life??

4)    Chocolate of some kind.  This really doesn’t need an explanation.  (It’s a food group, you know!)

5)    Spiral Notebook.  This applies to my Big Notebook or a small memo book I use for scribbling notes.  Before I type anything I usually need to work it out on a piece of paper the old-fashioned way.  The Big Notebook keeps me focused when I’m writing sections of a novel, while the memo book is used for rough drafts and lists of words I jot down after scanning through a thesaurus.

6)    iPod. Music is an essential part of my writing process.  Every project has a playlist to put me in “the zone” of the story or the character, (See How Music Helped Me Write A Novel).  If I’m writing a random piece, like a blog post, I select an established playlist to set the mood.  For example, right now I’m listening to Owl City’s All Things Bright and Beautiful album from  my “Feel Good” playlist.

7)    Goals.  If I don’t set some sort of goal, I’ll end up wandering on the internet or staring off into space.  A large project usually means a word count goal, while smaller projects could be something as little as finding one right word.  The idea is to create a reachable goal that matches to scope and size of my current writing project.

8)    A Jolt of Motivation.  To get in the right mindset I check out the literary quote of the day on my iGoogle page, read a few inspiring blogs, or take some time with a photograph or piece of artwork.  Seeing the creative output of others motivates me to join the ranks and create something all my own.

9)    My banged up Thesaurus.  The cover is ragged and held together with packing tape.  A crack in the binding makes the book open automatically to #626 every time.  It’s from 1972 and is by far the best thesaurus I own (never mind how many thesauri populate my shelves).   It has the best index, includes older phrases that I love to use, and its organized in Roget’s original system, which is far more useful than an alphabetical listing.

10)  Pencil Pouch O’ Supplies.  My pencil pouch is loaded with ballpoint pens, highlighters, pencils, USBs, and sticky notes.  If I’m working on the Big Notebook I’ll toss in a pair of scissors and a glue stick.  With this stockpile, I’m prepared for anything.

Luckily, most of this fits in a standard messenger bag with exception to numbers two and three.  With so many variables it’s amazing I get anything done, but somehow the words come and the story unfolds.

What is your muse juice?

c.b. 2011