Comments 5

When the Muse is Absent

On those days when the muse doesn’t show up and you feel stumped (again), here’s a technique that will keep the pen moving:

List your favorite things, your favorite activities, or your favorite places. In Word Painting, Rebecca McClanahan sites author Larry Brown’s list of things that firemen use in their work:

…ladders, axes, forcible entry tools, rappelling gear, ropes, safety belts, breathing apparatus, nozzles, generators, a Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life), flashlights, pike poles, entry saws, bolt cutters, fire extinguishers…

After listing things that you love, employ the “I love” technique Brown uses in his book, On Fire. Brown has three pages detailing the things he loves.  Here is a paragraph he wrote using some of the items from the list:

“I love to go down on the floor and see the smoke over me, worm my way forward to the fire, the hose hard as a brick, the scuffed rubber on the end of the fog nozzle. I love the two-and-a-half-inch hoses and the big chrome nozzles that no man can hold, the red axes and the pry bars and the pike poles that we tear down ceilings with…”

Writer’s block won’t get you if you try this….


My list:

books, notebooks, pens, papers, crayons, colored pencils, scrapbooks….

I love the notebooks that are on a basket near my desk. They are of different sizes, each one containing entries about a specific subject. I love the way my brain recognizes each notebook. When I pick up the small haiku journal, my brain goes on haiku mode and dishes out 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5. I love the way the pen glides on the paper. I love the different colors of the papers on one notebook, the border designs on another, the whiteness of the pages of a journal where I write about spirituality…





  1. Susanne says

    I’ve been struggling with a writing assignment for another on-line course I’m doing and I think, as Ms. D. says above, this might crack the dam. As usual, your post is helpful in so many ways.


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