My book The Writer’s Process describes the fictional personas of The Muse and The Scribe to represent the different mental processes involved in writing.
The Muse represents our creative processes, and the Scribe the disciplined ones. The two must work together for us to get work done.
We all have a Muse and a Scribe, but our backgrounds and personalities may pull us more toward one or the other. The professions we choose may also favor a particular balance. A fiction writer probably brings more Muse to their writing work than the academic describing their latest discovery.
Only by understanding our personal balance of Muse and Scribe can we figure out how to approach new kinds of writing, or how to improve our existing processes.
How do you spend your writing time?
One way to assess your balance is to examine what the experience of writing feels like. That offers a clue to what’s happening in your process, and the balance of the Muse and the Scribe.
Do you have a bunch of great ideas, but rarely finish anything? That state of creative chaos happens when the Muse overpowers the Scribe.
Does writing feel difficult and tedious? A feeling of diligent drudgery usually means that you’re not inviting creativity (the Muse) into the process.
Are you sitting around, waiting for inspiration to show up before you write? Uninspired inertia indicates that both the Scribe and the Muse are missing in action.
And if you embody creative productivity, then you’ve found a balance of the Muse and Scribe that works for you and the type of writing you do—congrats! This doesn’t mean it’s easy, of course. You can always improve, but you’re writing.
You may occupy different states (or quadrants of that chart) based on the type of writing you do. Perhaps your business writing is diligent drudgery and your fiction writing creative chaos. Or you may fluctuate depending on where you are in your life and how you feel.
Here’s the thing to remember: you have some control. You are the container for your Muse and Scribe, and can choose to invite them into your life.
Shifting your balance
If you want more creativity, invite the Muse. Let curiosity lead the way, give yourself permissions to explore, and set aside fear.
Fear shuts down the Muse. Curiosity welcomes it back.
Ideas aren’t floating around in the universe looking for deserving souls. (Well, maybe they are, but it’s not a helpful metaphor.) You need to actively explore and research and give yourself permission to be creative.
And if your Scribe needs strengthening, start with establishing a daily writing practice. Showing up and writing is like regular exercise—it makes your writing stronger.
Not sure how strong your Muse is? Take the Muse Quiz!
You can find many more ideas for strengthening the Scribe and the Muse in The Writer’s Process Workbook.