Monday, May 3, 2010

Romancing the Muse: Digging into the Archives

I have been tagged by my amazing and hilarious friend Ange whose blog Signed by Ange never fails to inspire me. Often I don't play along with tags simply because I forget, which I know is lame, but it is exactly what happens.  This tag, however, is easy as pie, and loads of fun.  I'm supposed to repost my sixth and tenth blog posts ever and then tag some other folks to join in the fun.  I'm cheating a little and posting my fifth instead of my sixth because I think this one is rather useful for anyone who is trying to write.   I'll post my tenth tomorrow and include my list of bloggers then.  So, here it is, my fifth post from Saturday, March 7, 2009:

I write every day. Right now that's easier to do than usual because I have a writing residency that gives me the gift of time, but even when life is hectic, I write very regularly.  Place doesn't matter quite as much; I write in coffee shops, airports, waiting rooms, wherever I have time to linger. The best writing, however, the writing of my wild mind, happens at home at my desk with the talismans and tokens in this photo and my cat Dill on his pillow beside me.  Students often complain to me of writer's block.  The best advice I have to give them boils down to a few simple things:

  • Turn off all your electronic devices--just like when you're on an airplane--and simply sit quietly for a bit, allowing your brain to hear its own thoughts.
  • Make a date with your muse every day and don't stand her (or him) up.  Even if it's just time for a quick snog.  Be there in the chair with the pen and paper or laptop and put the words on the page.
  • Don't be critical of your writing as you draft.  Just write.  Criticize and revise later.  When you're having a tough time keeping dates to write new stuff, make a date to work on revisions. That's when you can be tough, but even then, think of revising as a form of play. Imagine the possibilities for your poem or story.  Don't feel married to earlier drafts.  There's been no wedding--just dates.
  • This last one is the most important one: read.  Read books you love.  Read with abandon. Read more than you write.  Become a book addict.  It is the single most valuable habit a writer can cultivate.  Even if you've missed a date or two with the muse, she'll forgive you if she knows you've been reading.  
I'm adding one tip to the list today, May 3rd: If it helps, wherever you keep a calendar or datebook, tuck your date with the muse into that schedule.  Write or type it right in there in bold capitals.  Treat it like you would a meeting or an appointment.  If you're a writer, it is every bit as important as anything else you'll be doing that day--and more important than most.  


  1. Love your tips, and such nice warm light in the photograph of your inspirational knick-knacks - especially the 'G' for Gigi!

    It has taken me a while to get there, but I do employ most of these tips. I do schedule in writing time in my diary - it helps me to see what evenings and days I block off, keeps me on track of what I am trying to acheieve. I am also reading wild and free at the moment, trying to stretch my comfort zone and dip my toes outside it every so often. I usually cling to familiar authors, but this year have taken the plunge - and found the waters to be inviting!

  2. those are great tips - when i used to travel for long distances, i always came up with brilliant ideas. the problem would be i was driving and couldn't write them down. i need to get a voice recorder.

    can't wait to see the one for tomorrow.

  3. Wonderful and wise advice, really for any creative pursuit! Great post.

  4. I'm more a 'visual person', your great advise applies to my visual communication too Gigi!
    As for book, I'm reading Carol burnett's latest, This Time Together' ~LUV it*

    Wonderful week darling~

  5. Oh, I wish I had your writing talents my dear! I love reading your blog and I always love your images.
    Have a great day.

  6. Such good advise GiGi. I think you are a splendid writer. yvonne

  7. I appreciate your valuable points and I do agree with you. I have a bad habit of reading over and over what I wrote and this stops the progress of any writing I do.


  8. Gigi~
    Excellent post! I'm glad you played along with this tag because I never read these great tips before...and I couldn't agree more about being a book addict! The best addiction I have ever had and hope to never cure! :)

  9. what very sound advice! I particularly love the last piece of advice about reading with abandon. a line I will cling to I think. Yes, I think it's the only way to really develop one's writing potential.

  10. Hi Gigi, What fun to dig into the archives! I'm forwarding this post on to my screenwriter husband.

  11. I love this post. These "few simple things' make all the difference to me, as a writer, and as someone who craves time alone with my mind. And they work, too!

  12. Awesome! I'm going to try this tonight!

  13. did you say book addict?.... i wouldn't know anything about that. : )

  14. I think this post was around the time I first came across The Magpie's Fancy!
    Timely and wise advice, Gigi. As always. I think part of my problem is in my aversion to reading that has swallowed me whole over the last few months. Something I never could have imagined. Over thirty years reading voraciously and then *poof*...nothing!
    But. I devoured a book last week. Yes I did! Started, couldn't put it down and finished it all in a few days. I felt tremendous! So now I just need to keep the momentum going. I think part of it is how little time I have to either read or write so inevitably I choose to write.

    Delighted to hear your news btw! I'm a bit behind you but doggedly scribbling away.

    And yes. I do need to turn off my electronic devices...

    C x

  15. Lovely tips. Excellent advice.

  16. im a woman of few words... but only when i write. when i speak they come out alot easier.
    maybe if i could type as fast as my mind.... hmmm

  17. This is excellent advice. I'm so happy that you chose to show your fifth post here. I agree with all you've said. I especially enjoyed "There's been no wedding--just dates." Such a good way to view editing. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  18. Dear Gigi, these are wonderful tips. I write daily too, sometimes for minutes and sometimes for hours. And I read. I read every chance I get.

  19. Gigi I'm soooo pleased you played along. Selfishly pleased of course. I have a darling friend who's a writer in New Zealand and who has always encouraged me to both write ... and most of all, READ.
    So I do and do and do and am always mesmerised by the number of things these tremendously talented authors can come up with. The insights, the wisdom, the conversations, the humour, the pain the emotions... Phew. It's world after world of discovery.
    Thanks Gigi, I'm going to print this post out and tape it to the wall next to my writing desk which boasts a beautiful coloured cigar box, an amber glass heart, some wonderful pieces of sea glass and an old glass bottle. I'm never short of inspiration with you around

  20. I love this. Plus, I love my own fifth post, so I'm in. (without cheating. ha)

  21. These are wonderful tips.

    I found myself daydreaming as I read this post, wishing I could go sit in an airport and read and write and people watch. Sometimes I wish I could work in an airport just so I can observe...they are such highly emotional places as people connect or disconnect with each other.


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