Guest Posts

When The Muse Hits And When It Doesn’t Hit

I get brainstorms at odd times. They occurred frequently when I was writing my first supernatural novel, DUST, especially when I was trying to flesh out the book. Ideas for inserting additional material into the framework of the story would pop into my head at strange times—when I was trying to fall sleep, taking a shower, watching TV, etc. I couldn’t control the timing of these book-related thoughts and still can’t.

I remember one instance at a large theater: While waiting for the show to begin, I suddenly got an idea for a new DUST victim (Liza). I scribbled a rough draft of the entire chapter on the show’s program and other bits of paper that I scrounged. Now I make sure to always carry a notepad in my bag! I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. I woke up at 5 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I tried, but thoughts about The Disappearance, the paranormal novel I’m currently writing, kept drifting into my head. Of course, this is both a good and bad thing. It’s good to get ideas; it’s bad to get them when you’d rather be sleeping.

What did I do with these new ideas when I got up? I scribbled a couple of them on a legal pad that I use for my “notes.” I don’t have a neat, organized method of cataloging my thoughts about the books I write. Generally, I jot a few ideas down on paper especially if I think the wording is exceptionally good. Then, when I get to that point in the story, I glance at the jumble of words, randomly written on one of the pad pages, and see if the content still applies. Sometimes it does; other times, it doesn’t. I check off (or cross out) each idea as it is used (or not used).

I find I don’t have to write down too many of my thoughts. The paper’s my security blanket, but I rarely forget any of the ideas. Since they’re part of a book I’m creating, the thoughts rattle around in my brain until they’re ready to be released. As long as my mind is working, my head not my notepad operates as my filing system. But there can be times when the muse doesn’t hit. In a recent interview, I was asked if I had ever experienced writer’s block. Strangely, I never had a problem with it while writing DUST. However, when I was working on my second novel, Peachwood Lake, I sat at the computer one morning, trying to write about a period of time (an afternoon) in the narrative and nothing happened. No muse. No inkling about what the characters should be doing. Nada.

Here’s what I did: Rather than sit and struggle, I skipped past that chapter and picked up the story’s action at a later point. Then, a few days later, when I figured out what I wanted to write, I was able to go back and fill in the missing pages.

While I certainly don’t know the “cure” for writer’s block, for me the answer was to move forward and not agonize about my sudden lack of creativity. If I had sat for hours, waiting for the muse to strike, I would have become a nervous wreck, and, in that condition, I wouldn’t have been able to write anything.

About the Book:
Susan Berliner is the author of the book, “Dust”.
While unloading groceries in her Rock Haven condo, Karen McKay notices a strange swirl of red, green, and blue dust. The swirl follows her inside, lifts a porcelain ballerina from her wall unit, twirls it in the air, and throws it to the floor, shattering it into pieces.

The following evening, Karen hears her neighbor’s dog barking loudly. Upon investigation, she finds her neighbor, Marion, at the bottom of the stairs—dead. At the top of the stairs, a colorful whirlpool of dust circles ominously.

Now the feisty librarian must consider the unthinkable: Could the dust be responsible for her neighbor’s death and, if so, would it kill again? Karen turns to her ex-husband, Jerry, for help and together they bravely confront the mysterious dust. But will their daring actions cost them their lives?

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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