Entertaining the Muse by Catharine Bramkamp

Find Your MuseInvite her to stayLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us about “Entertaining the Muse.” Enjoy!


I’m not a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert per se, but she delivered a great TED talk on the Muse.  And based on that talk she has just published a book on creativity called Big Magic.

Her basic premise is a sound one: when it comes to writing, it’s not all about us.

In the past, writers and artists were not so much responsible for their creative work as they were honored to be the instruments of creative inspiration. The artist was simply a medium for a greater power to flow through them and create.

As passive as that sounds, that we are merely hands, eyes and bodies at the service of a capricious god, it does take some of the pressure off.

If we are just channeling the Muse, then a dry spell, the inability to produce great art, is not entirely the direct result of bad character or lack of will power.

On the other hand, did you leave the right offering at the feet of your Muse?

And on the third hand (possible for some of our gods), if you wait for the Muse, you may end up with little more than a very large stack of blank paper.

That’ s the conundrum.  Wait for inspiration?  Or, as Jack London said, don’t wait, hunt down inspiration with a bat.  Or something like that.

I think you can invite the Muse to visit and capture her inspiration on a consistent basis, enough to write that book at any rate.  The Muse likes schedules.  She often drops by at the same time each day.  Your job is to discover when that is and be there when she visits.


Gertrude Stein once said of the writing process, “It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.”

But for the writing to come, you may have to nudge it along by finding a consistent source of inspiration. Stein says her best ideas came to her while she was driving around in her car looking at cows. She would write for only 30 minutes a day, driving around a farm and stopping at different cows until she found the one that most fit her mood.

Barring counting cows (what if you live in the city?),  follow the advice of many, including me: show up. If the Muse knows you’re home, she is more likely to stop by.

For the first weeks, you may show up in good faith but the Muse may not reciprocate.  She may  be wandering around your house, checking the base boards for dust, judging if you are really serious, or if you’re actually playing Candy Crush, in which case, you are clearly not serious.  The Muse is not that easily fooled.  To attract the Muse, you need to be writing.

And by writing I mean anything you want, anything that comes to mind. Like warming up the water in the shower, you turn on the words, let them flow and pretty soon  they will become the right temperature, and you then can step into the shower and relish the flow.

I believe in the muse, I believe in luring her to my side with promises of wine, chocolate and attentive listening.  I believe in thanking her for her efforts on my behalf. And if I could, I would book her as a guest on Newbie Writers Podcast.

Make your offering today.  Your writing will start to improve by tomorrow.  Promise.



Catharine Bramkamp, author

Catharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English, and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.

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