When a writer loses her muse

As a writer, what do you do when you’ve lost your muse? How you find your inspiration? I’ve faced this dilemma several times over the years. It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. It’s depressing. Who am I if not a writer? What is my purpose? Where is my voice?

I’m not referring to having trouble writing an article or a report. I’m not talking about wanting to bang my head against the wall re-writing SEO articles. I’m not talking about my ability to complete any assignment. These are different —- for me anyway. These are work, and I know what’s expected of me. I may find myself struggling with a word or a sentence. I may have to push extra hard to get the motivation to finish something particularly boring. But these are not the songs of my muse. These are not my heart. These are business.

No, what I’m writing about is when my words escape me, when I can’t craft a poem or an essay (or in this case, a blog). I am referring to the times when all the passion that usually engulfs every inch of my being seems to disappear. So what do I do?

I write about it.

I just went through some of my journals tonight and realized how many times I wrote about not being able to write. They’re some of my favorite pieces, and I’d like to share a few of them with you.

January 13, 2000

 This was originally 3 pages long! The ellipses show where I cut things out.

I want to write something intelligent – something thought-provoking and meaningful, but my brain doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. . . . It’s 2:52am and I’m fighting with the radio for a good song. My mind’s been wondering and I can’t concentrate. . . . I want to write. I want to write something deep, something that will baffle high-school and college students in the years to come, something like Edgar Allen Poe or Robert Frost, or maybe George Orwell. . . .

But who am I kidding? I could never be that good. I could never chill people’s bones like Poe or warm people’s hearts like Frost, and I certainly could not freak people out like Orwell. . . . But still, my compulsion to write persists. . . . Could I ever make people laugh like Dave Barry or make people love like Lord Byron? I don’t even know what genre I belong in. . . . So where does that leave me? 3:15am and still fighting with the radio. Aerosmith – good. “Dream On.” Maybe that’s my answer. Keep dreaming I guess – and well, keep writing. I probably am my own worst critic. I mean, Emily Dickenson never guessed the impact she would have on people with her writing, right?

Early 2010

I’m beginning to wonder if I have anything important to say about anything. I’ve allowed myself to get so weighted with trivial things, and I miss the person I always thought I’d become. There used to be passion, desire, dreams that were more than fleeting. There was a time when music inspired me, when a few lyrics and a melody were enough make me want to get up and make a difference. There was a time when I read poetry and felt it in my heart. I could write for hours and come out of it not knowing what was put to paper, but knowing whatever it was, it was whole and true.

There’s a shadow I can barely see, but still she’s there. She watches me and cries because somehow she knows the path that I cannot see. She hides, and watches, and creeps along with knowledge she cannot share. I feel her when I lie alone, and I wish to tear at the wallpaper.

I saw beauty in the world once, and no matter what I pretend, I just can’t find it anymore. I’ve been faking it for so long. I’m beginning to wonder if this is what normal is . . . if all of this really is okay. Naivety still grasps at me and that little girl with her big bright eyes refuses to accept that. Maybe I am looking for something that doesn’t exist, for a muse where there is none.

It’s all fused together. The inspiration, the artistry, the motivation to do more and be more. I sleep now, more to dream than anything else. I long for my dreams, for the escape into a world more fantastic than this, a world I used to etch onto paper with words. I can’t accept ordinary and yet I can’t seem to find the motivation to break free from it. I’m guilty of becoming comfortable, of being afraid of change. I don’t know this person I’ve become.

December 5, 2010

The taste of a suffocating silence on my tongue

Like a mouthful of olives.

Crumbling thoughts dissipate into barrenness,

Stillness penetrates me

While my aura kicks and screams,

A deafening noise in a vacuum of sound.

Twisting and snapping of emotions

Laid out in a forgotten sanctuary.

Bent and broken, eyes like flashlights,

She gazes awkwardly at nothing in particular,

Brimming with lost words,

Her cognizance astounding

Though unaware of how to flood the canvas.

It remains bare

While she shelters herself and weeps softly.


Looking back on these pieces and many others, I realize something. My muse has never left me. She has always and will always be there. Sometimes, she does like hide. I have to work a little harder to find her, but she is there. Always there. Always whispering. Sometimes I just need to be quiet enough to listen.

Photo Credit

3 responses to this post.

  1. Sometimes I wonder if all aspiring writers and writers spend a good bit of their time wishing they were writing, journaling about writing, thinking about writing. I so understand what it feels like to want to be writing and be mired down in the muck of the wasteland of uninspiration wondering why I can’t reach my muse. What I have found to work the best for me is movement. Dance is my favorite. I put on a few songs and dance out of my body what is holding me back or clogging me up then I dance in the intention of what I am working on.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    • And thank you for sharing your thoughts!!!

      I don’t dance often due to a complete lack of rhythm, but now that I think about it, when I am in my inspirational moods, I do dance much more frequently . . . usually just bopping around while washing dishes or twirling my daughter around the living room. I’m going to have to try that on the reverse to see if the dance can create the inspiration!


  2. Your loss of a muse sounds so much more interesting than mine!


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