Muse Juice


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


44 thoughts on “Muse Juice

  1. No wonder I don’t get anything done!! I do love my green tea with fresh ginger but that’s as far as I go. I REALLY need to get a plan of action cause I’m a habitual wanderer, thanks for your always motivating pieces.


  2. Thanks for the mention. You know I’m a sucker for top 10 lists 🙂 I liked reading about your necessities for writing… I used to have a “spot” but traveling between school and home and trying to be in college has sacrificed that… must find one when I go back to school in the fall!


    • Thanks for inspiring this piece! 🙂

      Sometimes the right “spot” is right under your nose. I think I tried 5 other tables before I settled on the obvious choice. I hope you find the perfect place to write soon. 🙂


  3. I like your list… One can never go wrong with chocolate. As to what is my muse juice, I’m really not altogether sure. My muse sometimes shows up at the oddest times. When she’s there I try and listen. Now you’ve got me thinking…


  4. Absolutely LOVED the title. 🙂 I really enjoy being offered an insight into how great writers write. You’ve got quite a system, and it sounds like you’ve found a wonderful spot. As you would expect from a Pirate with a Pirate muse, we tend to use a, ummm… less structured system, although neither of us will turn down a nice cup ‘o Pirate Tea (rum for you landlubbers) given the chance..


  5. Susanne

    I thought as I read this what a great prompt this might be for WIG. What gets our Muse motivated? I need hot tea and music, no lyrics in the music though. Anyway your muse must be working as you are getting much accomplished. I must thank my muse for my own writing, too.


    • I’m thankful for your muse, too. Your blog is one of my very favorite things. 🙂

      This would be a great prompt . . . just like the time our inner critics had a discussion with our muses. Maybe right before New Year’s we should consider what fuels our muses as part of our writing goals for 2012.


  6. Wow, C.B. I just saw your Big Notebook post and I’m envious. WOW. I wish I were that organized. I might actually try that sort of thing for my next novel. I love the idea of having a kind of scrap-book of my writing process left for me, as well as just having something to refer to as I write.

    I really am not picky about where/how I write. I basically need a keyboard and some time to concentrate and I can get myself into the mood. If I have a coffee at my side (cold during the summer, hot and lovely during the winter) then I’m a happy camper.


    • You’re lucky to have a muse that doesn’t need much! It seems coffee is a common denominator among everyone here. What would we do without our caffeine fix! 😉

      I wish my Big Notebook was as organized as everyone thinks it is! It’s a giant mess of scribbles and scraps! Nonetheless, I got a novel out of that mess. 🙂 I’m in the process of making another one and I’ll be posting about it soon . . . Stay tuned!


  7. Just now reading this post. Great hearing how you get your muse to cooperate and having a workable system. Right now I have no set time to write, but I have bits and pieces of plotting notes that I rewrite into my notebook at night.


    • Sometimes life is so busy I don’t know how we write anything at all! And with the way you paint your accomplishments in writing are amazing!

      My favorite time to write is at night. The day is done and there’s nothing but the story on my mind. 🙂


  8. I have never considered music / chocolate / coffee to keep myself writing, but I guess those are good suggestions. I will consider utilizing them up soon – But are we sacrificing weight for good writing? 🙂


  9. Like you mentioned, I need some good music for me to write something down, and going through some awesome blogs like yours to get me into that creative groove. I too like to write things down in small notepad and then on the cyber paper. And also having a good day’s rest inspires me to write some thing better and less morose than the usual..!


    P.S. I love your blog! 🙂


    • Thanks! 🙂 I appreciate the kind words.

      Yes, rest and/or sleep is always a good idea. I wish my muse would remember that . . . she often wakes me up in the middle of the night!

      Thanks for reading and I hope to see you here again.


  10. Really enjoyed seeing a post muse juice.

    I think your list rocks – I wish I could sit and drink rich coffee each chocolate and compose something meaningful – hopefully some day they’ll make a pill for the coffee/chocolate combo so we can just have endless pairings of these two parts of the muse juice so the muse never loses its buzz.



  11. Coffee, strong French blend with cold milk. Any place to sit and look at the world, bars, cafes, up a mountain. I do love people watching. But nature watching is good too. No music though, I find that disturbs me and I listen to that instead of writing. Notebooks are good, and the laptop. I start in the notebook and move to the laptop with the form.

    Nice post to get thinking to.



  12. Thank you for this great list. I’m fairly new to writing and can use all the pointers I can find to keep myself focused/motivated/inspired…whatever it takes. I haven’t found my muse yet…unless she’s there and I don’t know it…? But I do have the middle-of-the-night issue.


    • She’s there . . . maybe she’s just the strong silent type. And I see she wakes you up at night! My muse and I have come to our understanding through a lot of trial and error. Eventually, we got the right program in place, though its far from foolproof. 😉

      Stay motivated and keep writing!


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