Some ancient civilizations had a word for goddesses who could inspire the human spirit to create things of beauty – muse.
The Muses, the living embodiment of knowledge and the arts — literature, dance and music – were said to be the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, or memory personified.
In Roman times, functions were assigned to the Muses, with some variation: Calliope –epic poetry; Clio –history; Euterpe –flutes and lyric poetry; Thalia –comedy and pastoral poetry; Melpomene –tragedy; Terpsichore –dance; Erato –love poetry; Polyhymnia –sacred poetry; Urania –astronomy.
For centuries, writers and poets would invoke the Muses for inspiration and supernatural guidance, asking that they be used as vessels for divine insight and creativity.
This is not such an antiquated notion. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
The definition of the word “muse” means to be absorbed in one’s thoughts; to engage in meditation or to consider or say thoughtfully.
So, a modern muse can take many forms – reflection, focus and spirituality are a few examples.
In fact, by infusing your spirit and originality into every story you write, you are letting your own, personal muse or spiritual guide work miracles through you.
How can you awaken the muse within you?
One effective way to find your muse is through meditation. Quiet contemplation — the real kind of quiet where your mind is silenced and free of nagging, fretful or worrisome thoughts — will help you achieve a state of reflection and understanding.
Give thought to what your writing goals are and where you feel you are falling short. Then let your mind focus on “hearing” an answer to your writing dilemma.
Another helpful tip is to seek your muse through nature. A leisurely afternoon spent mindlessly swaying on a porch swing or strolling along a windswept shore will clear your mind and have you feeling inspired in short order.
Finally, nurture your writing spirit with those activities that you know will stir your soul — reading, painting, singing and humming. Find ways to coax your mind and heart toward meaningful images for rich story-telling and inspired ideas.
What or who is your muse? Is it a loved one? An old friend? Perhaps a former nemesis who urges you onward with a frenzied passion?
Or would you describe your muse as some inanimate object that provides a sense of peace and calm as you write?