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A Good Muse Is Hard To Find

November 23, 2015

But how do you find topics to write about?

Where do you not find things to write about? If you are alive, you have something to write about. 

It’s a question that every writer has to confront at some point; often at multiple points. It has various names. Like superstitious sports fans, we often tend to attribute success to some mythical process. 

My muse has deserted me.

It means I can’t seem to write. Muse was a mythical group of goddesses. They were the daughters of Zeus and mnemosyne. These nine goddesses presided over the arts and sciences, song and poetry. 

  • Calliope: Epic Poetry
  • Clio: History
  • Erato: Love Poetry
  • Euterpe: Music
  • Melpomene: Tragedy
  • Polyhymnia: Sacred Poetry
  • Terpsichore: Dance
  • Thali’a: Comedy
  • Urania: Astronomy

There is no muse for technical writing, but a mixture of history and tragedy might cover it. As a writer you crave the influence of a muse, but also dread the “I have to write this idea” impulse that makes us so neurotic. We love it and hate it. 

I’ve had times were I could both write and not write. I could write on one topic, but was empty when trying to find ideas in another area. It’s easy to blame the muses, but that’s really a cop out. The best quote I ever on writer’s block was from noted science fiction author Ben Bova:

I never got writer’s block. I couldn’t afford it. If I didn’t write, we didn’t eat. 

We are told that “necessity is the mother of invention.” I think a more accurate phrase is “Desperation is the mother of invention. Many writers I know can spend 80% of their writing time doing “research.” It’s not until the deadline is just short of too close that they kick into gear and produce their content. 

It would be so much easier to simply write a little each day. If you write 200 words per day, just 1000 per week, in a year, you will have enough words for a 50,000 word novel. There are no doubt, authors that have mastered that daily bit. I’m not one of them. 

That’s right. I’m not an author who can take a big project and write a little every day until it’s done. 

And yet, here we are. Today marks the 719th blog entry on So, what gives? The blog has updated every weekday since March of 2013. Most blog entries are between 500 and 1000 words. But, I don’t see it as having written between 500,000 and 750,000 words on a project. I see it as, with a few exceptions, 719 self contained projects that happen to be stored in the same place. 

While I try to stick to a theme of team building, and leadership, I tend to take side trips to camping, or computer history, or home canning. And that brings me back to my original question. How do you, or more accurately, how do I find topics to write about. 

I draw my inspiration from everyday activities. As a writer, I try to look at events and activities from a storyteller’s perspective. There is inspiration literally in everything I see. Of course not everything that passes in front of me is going to be interesting to readers. That’s the real challenge. How to make topics interesting. I typically use two strategies. 

First, I like to connect what would otherwise be separate topics. Comparing baseball ERA, GPA and system availability helps me see that lessons learned in one area can apply to other areas. 

Second, I tell stories. People connect with personal experiences. When I spent five days to tell the story about the time I had to move my children into a barn, my brother called me.

I know how this story ends, and I can’t wait to hear how it ends.

But, as Ben Bova alluded to, the best way to be successful is to write. Nothing invites a muse like the noise of fingers on the keyboard. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

  1. My muse is such an a**hole -_- PS: I’m running a two sentence story challenge over at my blog. Feel free to join the fun!

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