I’ve had a regular writing practice for the best part of 30 years and as a writer and writing coach, the biggest lesson I’ve learnt about writing is to stop waiting for the muse; you’ve got to learn to charm her instead… 

The reason getting the stuff you want to write written is so difficult, is not because you’re too busy, or because you have nothing to write about, or because it’s just not the right time. The reason you’re not doing it is because you’re waiting for the muse. And the muse I can tell you, is not a trustworthy and steadfast co-creator; she’s rather more like a contrary fairy.

Think Tinkerbell from Peter Pan – fawning all over you when really you’ve got more pressing things to do; skulking in a corner pretending she can’t hear you when you actually need her help.

That’s why waiting around for the muse, AKA inspiration to strike, is the biggest mistake you can make if you want to get stuff written – whether that’s writing your blog, your book, your weekly newsletter or just starting to practice the art of writing.

There is a way around it though; a technique that will charm your muse into collaboration (most of the time, anyway). Here’s how it goes…

How to charm the muse..

1. Set a designated day, time and place devoted just to writing. Commit to it. Make it a non-negotiable appointment. Like cleaning your teeth.

2. On the designated day and time get out your writing tools and set to work. Not feeling inspired? Got a headache? A bit of work that you really should be finishing off instead? Too bad. You’ve made this commitment to writing, and this is one promise you have to keep to yourself. So set the timer, grab a hot water bottle or a large cup of coffee, whatever you need to push on through… put your fingers on the keyboard or the pen to the paper, and start writing…

If you’re stuck, anything will do at first… You can write about the weather, what you had for breakfast… The rule is you keep your pen moving and the words flowing, because (here’s the trick), you’ve got to let old Tinks know, that you’re doing this thing with or without her….

3.And it might feel hard. Like the first few steps of a 10K run. But you push on through, because you want to do this and you know that no-one else is gonna do it for you… It won’t feel any easier later, or tomorrow, or next week. Not even when the kids go back to school. So you might as well do it now. Because now is the only time there is to write.

4. And as you persevere, after a while, something will change in the air. The Muse’s curiosity has finally got the better of her… And suddenly the words start coming more easily, faster than you can think them…Your fingers have taken on a life of their own…

5. And when the timer goes off, you have pages and pages of words, half of which you can barely remember writing.

6. And when the designated time next rolls around, you quickly look back at what you wrote, and think gosh, it’s probably all rubbish… but actually… Wow, did I really write that?

Because there are patterns and connections in the thoughts and ideas that you hadn’t seen before…. Original stories and anecdotes and analogies have sprung up all over the page like mushrooms, and amidst all the waffle and the broken sentences, there is gold indeed.

7.  And so even though you don’t feel very inspired at that moment. You once again put your pen to the paper, fingers to keyboard, and write… 

That’s how you become a better writer. That’s how you get your writing projects started and finished.

Ps. And that’s exactly what we do in Write Club, my weekly writing group that runs every Tuesday during term time. It’s the time, the space, the commitment you’ve been waiting for – 60 minutes uninterrupted writing time, every single week to help you get your project done. Join us for a drop in session for just £12 (sign up here https://buy.stripe.com/3cs5ol6x12oO6FqbIL), or if you want to buy a block for a discounted rate, send a message to cate@catebutlerross.com.