Water Muse

My Muse likes it wet.

I’m not sure why. I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s some sort of water spirit. Maybe an Undine.

Water and Light have always been my elements of choice.
Water and Light have always been my elements of choice.

I’ve mentioned before how a Muse won’t adhere to your schedule. They’ll show up when you’re damn good and ready, and woe be to you if you’re not ready to write when they show up. While this might seem unfair, remember that your Muse is already doing you a service. She’s providing you with inspiration and all she gets in return is the nourishment of your creative energy, which sustains her life force. So it’s like making someone work for you for food, but no pay. Basically, that means your novel is like a nice, hearty bowl of Cheerios.

I try to listen to my Muse and write what she wants, not what I want. I also tend to put everything else aside and give her words when she asks for them. But she has this bad habit of showing up when I’m in the shower. I’d try to ask her to reschedule, but you don’t want to argue with an irritated mythical creature while she’s soaking wet.

Her Gaze Attack forces you to make a Will Save or write for ten minutes per level.
Her Gaze Attack forces you to make a Will Save or write for ten minutes per level.

The result is always the same. I pause mid-shower, loofah in one hand, while images and ideas flash in my brain. A line for my latest WIP pops into my head and I start whispering it to myself. My eyes go out of focus while I search this new idea. Connections are forged across my synapses as I link the latest inspiration to what has come before. Then I quickly turn off the water, wrap a towel around myself, and rush out to find something to write with. Sometimes, the inspiration is intense enough that I go straight to the computer and write the scene. Other times, I just need to take notes and preserve the idea until I’m ready to write it. Either way, I get water everywhere.

Dramatic reenactment of my shower this morning.
Dramatic reenactment of my shower this morning.

I’ve asked around, and it turns out this is a common problem. So common, in fact, that people have suggested many ways to address it. I voted for hiring a secretary who doesn’t mind sitting on the other side of the shower curtain to take dictation while I bathe, though there’s always the inevitable sexual harassment lawsuits. Alternatively, you can get a pad of waterproof paper for the shower.

Yes, it's really a thing.
Yes, it’s really a thing.

There’s even some science to back up the idea that creativity can come to us in the shower. Apparently my Water Muse is shutting down the part of my brain that I “use to make decisions” and stimulating the part that controls “association, context, events and emotional responses.” In other words, like every other woman in my life, my Water Muse gets me all emotional until I can’t think straight. The warm water gets my dopamine flowing, distraction sets in, my mind wanders, and the Muse slips in between my thoughts to sprinkle her inspiration all over the place.

I'd come up with another clever caption for this picture, but I'd have to hop in the shower to think of one.
I’d come up with another clever caption for this picture, but I’d have to hop in the shower to think of one.

Of course, there’s plenty of times my Water Muse comes to me when I’m completely dry. Sometimes I’ll simply be sitting at the computer, typing away, when a surge of inspiration hits me like a tidal wave (get it?). That’s usually when I start typing faster and I become less aware of anything else that’s going on around me. Including the passage of time. Hours will pass before I come up for air(#SeeWhatIDidThere?). I don’t think my Water Muse understands or cares about the passage of time. The ebb and flow of the tides might seem to mark time for us but the shift in the tides is so gradual that you don’t notice it while you’re sitting there staring at the water. It’s only when you come back later and you notice the water lines on the dock that you realize how far the tide has gone out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some slightly damp scenes to write.

Gratuitous Secret of Mana screenshot.
Gratuitous Secret of Mana screenshot.
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9 thoughts on “Water Muse”

  1. I do find that a lot of people get their ideas in the showers, so the waterproof pad or the rushing to write things down ideas are fantastic ones. (Secretaries, perhaps not so much!)

    For me, inspiration tends to hit in the middle of work. It’s a dry, boring, repetitive job, and so my mind tends to be free to wander. Thus I have to keep scraps of paper nearby and sneak notes whenever I can. Whatever works, mm? *laughs*

    One thing that I have noticed is that we tend to get into creative moods whenever we allow our minds to make free associations. Nothing terribly pressing going on or occupying our mind, just letting the thoughts go as they will- in the shower, at the desk, in the car, wherever, y’know? Probably the best thing to do is find out what one’s muse most responds to, and make that a regular part of the process. And if what one is doing currently doesn’t work… try out other things. 🙂

    1. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas on the job as well. I always have my smartphone handy with a writing app I can use to take notes (or write whole chapters out when it’s slow).

  2. Nice! I refer to my muse, as #WordMonster. He also adhere’s to no one’s schedule but his own, sometimes with little regard for time or space. He goes on random spurts at any time, at work, on the bus, at the grocery store, but most often, when I have already shut everything down and called it a night. When I NEED to get some proper sleep to function for work. Sometimes I try to make mental notes of particular plot points to work on the next day but rarely does he let that slide. He hauls me out of bed and I either enter it into the notepad on my phone -squinting at the lights, or get up out of bed and write, write, #writeitout until he’s pleased and attempt to sleep again.
    The science behind the Water Muse was an interesting read. I should look into this more with nocturnal ones. That water pad is nifty too!
    Great read!

    1. These types of Muses are why we always need paper and other note-taking materials around at all times. I keep notebooks in my car and I sleep with my phone within arm’s reach for late-night notes.

  3. I totally agree about there being some sort of water muse…

    … must have something to do with getting smacked in the head non-stop by all the water.

    It really knocks some sense into me so I can focus on my next scheme for world domination! mwahaha!

    The only downside is when instead all I can do is remember song lyrics to terrible disco songs because my shower is way too small to start dancing.

      1. Disco mind control… Nobody would suspect a thing until one day the lights start flashing, everybody starts dancing, and nobody can ever stop, never lose the disco fever, not until I receive one-hundred billion dollars! mwahaha!

  4. Holy cow. I wrote a post like this not too long ago, even used the same cartoon! (Which means I should have found your blog sooner…) I get the best dialogue ideas in the shower. DH bought me one of those Aqua Notes pads, and it totally works. The pencils gets a little gross so I try to keep it out of the water, but I’ve saved many ideas with the waterproof notepad. The pages are perforated so you can pull them off cleanly. I will probably always have one of those things in the shower. Anyway. Cheers!

    1. I haven’t bought one yet, but I keep thinking it’d be a good idea. It certainly beats dripping water all over my desk after I climb out of the shower, still wet, to scrawl a note before I forget it.

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