The Midnight Muse

This is the first article in a new series about finding your muse and keeping her tied down to a chair while you make some art. Now, seriously, every day, at midnight, I’ll try to offer you insight into how my brain works (or at least, the creative side), what has inspired me through the day, and stuff like that.

Also, I’ll be posting funny pictures of cats. Or nineteenth century impressionist paintings. It depends on my mood, actually.

Today’s topic is about one of the truly harmful things some artists do. They wait for the muse to come to them. It’s like sitting at the edge of the water, praying for a fish to jump into your lap. You might get lucky, but making art isn’t about luck. It’s about doing your thing, whether you feel like it or not.

It’s one of the oldest rules in the book. You sit down and type. You paint, you draw, you dance, you sing. No matter what. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions, for some mystical alignment of the planets. Create your perfect conditions.

It’s not pretty, and it doesn’t resemble the almost poetic way some people feel about art, but the truth is that art is as much about discipline as anything else worth pursuing. Art is about asking questions and finding answers, about systematically trying to understand how things work.

Art is about being relentless in your pursuit to become the best artist that you can be.

Don’t wait for your muse to come to you, don’t listen to all those voices telling you that now it’s not the time to write. Now it’s as good as it will ever be.

17 thoughts on “The Midnight Muse

  1. I love the advice. The whole idea with the ‘muse’ is cute, but terribly annoying at times. I’ve seen some people take it to the extreme. They might as well have their own little Tinkerbell on their shoulders sprinkling pixie dust in the middle of the night. To create art takes work, practice, drafts, mistakes, etc. etc. No it’s not agony, but it’s not just sudden bursts of inspiration and then you have a sudden masterpiece.😛

  2. You inspire me and help me “see the light at the end of the tunnel” every time I read your articles. I love this one. Looking forward to read you again.
    I also love to receive a notification just before going to bed! I don’t know what time is it in your country when you’re posting something (not everything) but where I live it’s always around midnight . It helps me going to bed in a good mood😉

  3. I may be one of those folks Lady G. mentioned, but over the years as “Tinker Bell” and I have worked together, we’ve formed a more professional relationship.

    I’ve found that the best way to get my muse’s attention is to write something, even if it’s terrible. Often times, it’s so bad it offends her aesthetic sensibilities, and she wants to come help me fix it.

    I love the idea of this blog and I look forward to reading your nightly posts.

  4. Great first post for the series. I’ll tell you something. It’s also about paying attention to detail, about being mindful. It’s about recreating the environment that works. If one pays attention to a particular routine that gets the creativity flowing, then it would be wise to recreate it.

    I pay attention to the moment that leads to writing.IF it’s random, then it’s random. But if I began to notice a pattern in certain routines, then I will make it a habit to recreate that in order to become inspired, to allow creativity to flow in my space. Maybe after a while it becomes monotonous, but then I may notice other patterns that I hadn’t discovered before. Changing it up works too.

    And sometimes we honestly need a break. A chance to absorb as much as possible, to allow our cups to overflow with ideas.

    Just my two cents!🙂

  5. I think, as a poet, the best times to write are the times when your brain is telling you not to. I think it’s because you brain makes note of the emotions you are experiencing and says “Don’t write right now, you’ll end up writing something you will regret later”. To my brain I say “Good. I want to regret what I write. Words are the most powerful weapons known to man, let me use them as such, let them hit me with all the power and emotion they can muster, and let the words used against me be my inspiration to live and write. Let words be the death of me.”

    Just my opinion though😀

  6. Art isn’t competing with anyone; art is optimizing your creativity to meet with your taste of excellence.
    I agree whole heartedly with most of your advice.
    Art is consistency, art is practice.
    Perfection and precision come from practice and consistency.
    The creativity within must find expression or remain as dormant as if it never existed. I often say that ability is useless if it is not put to use.
    The more you do a thing, the better at it you get.
    Good inspiration!

  7. My ideas always come when I go for a walk which is after I have already blogged, unfortunately. I can’t swap the order as I have to write early before the kids get up and make too much noise! But I figure it’s not a race to create something in particular, it’s just the joy of creating. Love your blog Cristian!!

    • Most of my ideas come to me either when I’m just about to fall sleep, or after I wake up from a good night sleep. Sometimes I dream, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I dream in the bus. Inspiration comes to us in the oddest of places and at the most inopportune of moments.

  8. What you write is true. In fact, I was just thinking about this as I write my latest poem. Expectation stops me after I write a poem, I look at it and try to change it because perhaps it’s not quite right but the words keep forcing me to write the same again and again… I can’t change what needs to be written, but I can improve on my art with each stroke. Thank you for your truthful words.

  9. Thank you for your inspiration. I’ve been a writer for over 25 years. It has been such a struggle for me to write and I’m finally coming to terms with getting my words down on paper when the moment hits me without procrastination. I’ve never wanted to force myself to write because it felt more like a job than pleasure. I’m starting to understand that the creative process never stops. It’s a continuous process. Even when you don’t feel like creating, there is something within you that needs to be expressed and when you allow yourself to begin the process you release the hidden gem that would not have been birthed if you didn’t even try to create it. I don’t look at writing as work anymore. I enjoy each step of the process. When I have writer’s block, I simply brainstorm and allow myself the freedom to ponder my thoughts or just simply free write. I usually come up with some great ideas once I allow myself the freedom to just be with no limitations.

  10. Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite quotes (not bad to be aligned with Chuck Close!):
    “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
    ― Chuck Close

  11. I love your energetic, positive attitude and direct manner of bringing up tough subjects. Some of my best work has been done when I’ve sat down and just typed or painted. Muses are elusive entities! I believe just starting, muse or not, is essential…it builds momentum. We’re our own muses.

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