Seduction has never been my thing. Not in the real world, in terms of enticing a romantic partner to my boudoir. (Does anyone even have a boudoir these days?) If you’ve seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, think about the scene where Kathy Bates imagines answering the door in cling wrap. That awkward image would be me on a good day.
But I’ve learned how to apply the principles of seduction to my inner writer—fortunately, with better results.
Sometimes, when in the honeymoon phase of a new project, for instance, the Muse is always ready for some action. Lunchtime tryst? Coat-closet quickie? Late-night booty call? Every moment together seems golden and magical as words—and worlds—flow from your fingers.
More often, however, this creative relationship feels less like a whirlwind romance and more like a decades-long marriage. (Not that there’s anything wrong with long-term, stable relationships.) But coaxing the Muse into a fecund spirit may take some work.
Recapture the Spark
Think back upon your most satisfying writing stints, when you emerged from your keyboard or notebook recharged and excited about your work. Try to pinpoint the elements that contributed to those magical moments.
- Place. Where were you? At home? In a coffee shop? On a park bench? What surroundings seem most conducive to your writing? Do you work better when surrounded by the chatter of a cafe? Or does your inner writer work better in silence? Identify an ideal writing environment (or two). Schedule some creative dates in this setting.
- Time. Do you work better early in the morning? Late at night? Smack-dab in the middle of the day, while everyone else is at lunch? Try to figure out when your creative energies are at their peak, and court your Muse when she’s apt to be the most receptive.
- Tools. Accoutrements are important. Instead of lingerie and candles, think pens, pencils, glittery inks, beautiful writing interfaces. Do you compose better at a computer? Does your gift of gab make dictation more natural? Or do you prefer to go old-school, with pen and paper? Experiment to find the medium that makes your Muse want to come out and play.
Discover Your Writing Rhythm
Once you’ve done some soul-searching and identified those creative triggers that put your inner writer in the mood, take stock. Consider these clues in the context of your current life. Maybe you were single at the time, and now you’re sharing a studio apartment with the love of your life. Perhaps you were a full-time student and now have to find creative moments outside a demanding work schedule. Maybe that creative period predated a child—or three—and your life bears zero resemblance to that carefree era.
As with any other form of seduction, desire can find a way. Mine the cues and clues above, and look for opportunities to recreate them in your present reality.
When I was single and starting to take my creative writing seriously, I made peace with my demanding work schedule. After getting home between seven-thirty and eight, I’d scarf down dinner—usually pizza—and spend an hour or so writing. Then, I’d read before bed, waking up around five to write my morning pages and exercise. Back in the office at eight-thirty, and the fun would recommence.
Fast-forward to today, when I’m juggling a marketing agency, a four-year-old boy, and a three-year-old urban fantasy novel that’s even harder to pin down than the child. At the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is open a writing project—or anything else that reminds me of work. So I’m keeping a similar schedule, but rearranging the elements to accommodate my current life and energy flows. While the day still starts at five, fiction writing now precedes the morning pages. At eight o’clock, after my son goes to bed, I read, relax, and reflect. I’m still working on finding time for exercise, but the basics are covered.
Experimentation Is Okay
Whatever works for you and your Muse stays between the two of you. No one else has to know or judge. Play around with different locations, different positions, different times of day. Try writing longhand if you usually default to a keyboard, or vice versa. If you like writing in pen, switch to a pencil instead. (I personally find this erasable medium liberating; pencils remind me that I can always go back and make my current output better.)
As with actual romantic relationships, there are few hard and fast rules. Perfection isn’t possible, and even if you find your ideal routine, it will change at some point.
Just get started, and figure out the best way to woo your inner writer. Chances are excellent that this will be one of your most satisfying relationships ever. More importantly, nurturing this creative connection will likely spill over—in a good way—to the other parts of your life.
Does your writing life need some more spark? Or are you one of those writers who inspire envy in the rest of us? Please share your experience, as well as any advice, in the comments.