by | Sep 12, 2022 | Extraordinary Guest Bloggers, The Writer's Life | 7 comments

Kim Howe:

Struggling with your muse? Talented author Victor Acquista just might have the advice you’re looking for to re-energize your writing creativity! 

Victor Acquista:

Muse, muse: noun      

  1. each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
  2. a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

As writers and artistic creators, we know what it’s like to be inspired by a muse. For me personally, it amounts to demonic possession. I sometimes become driven to write something that insists upon being expressed: a snippet of dialogue, a scene, a story, subplot…the list goes on.

picture of empty bed

Sleep beckons, but the muse is unrelenting. And when sleep manages to intercede, I am prone to wake with renewed inspiration that compels me to make a note, record a message to myself, or even return to my office and proceed with fingers to keyboard, in the zone, channeling the muse that refuses to allow me to rest, infected as it were with the only remedy being to write, write, write, write. Disregard the eye strain, sleep deprivation, aching neck muscles and celebrate the moment because it may be fleeting, or it may continue unabated. You just never know because there is a fickle character to this whole muse thing. Surf the big wave while the surfing is great and celebrate the moment while it lasts.

While I relish the muse taking over and writing while in the zone, more often I am bitten or smitten by an anti-muse. This is something we are all familiar with; although, we may not call it such. Yet, the seduction of such a demon is every bit as potent as that of a muse. I envision the anti-muse as a many-headed Hydra with poisonous venom. Once bitten, I am overcome with a certain paralysis. Alternatively, the anti-muse is a Medusa, whose eye-catching glance turns me into stone. The result: I don’t care to write at all. Summon the wild horses, but they cannot drag me back to writing, for I am smitten and totally under the spell of the anti-muse of the moment. For me, this is not writer’s block (I don’t believe in that) so much as non-interest in writing.

photo of frustrated writer bitten and smitten by the anti-muse

Here is my list of the nine anti-muses that neutralize each of the nine daughters of Zeus–the nine Muses of creative inspiration:

  1. lack of motivation/ambition
  2. stress from a multitude of sources
  3. time pressures
  4. competing priorities
  5. procrastination
  6. lapse in creativity
  7. laziness
  8. distractions
  9. excuses/rationalizations

I am an undisciplined writer. I do not write every day, a practice so many successful and accomplished authors recommend. Like a streaky baseball hitter, I can go from slump to torrid—from no muse at all to complete immersion and full throttle. Still, an anti-muse is never far away, always ready to dispel the muse of writing. With such monstrosities lurking, and without a magic demon-slaying sword, it’s amazing that I get any writing done at all.

The reality is the anti-muse cannot be slayed. Here are some suggestions for doing battle with this demon of defeat:

  1. You’ve got to write with the mindset of being hungry and never having your hunger fully sated.
  2. Sustained motivation and discipline are helpful. Regularly remind yourself of this.
  3. Make writing a high priority item among the many competing priorities in your life.
  4. Create dedicated, protected time for writing in a space that has few or no distractions.
  5. If your time management skills are weak, take some workshops or trainings to improve.
  6. The same is true for stress management. If stress deters you from writing or is an excuse, there are many resources to help you learn how to manage stress better. That’s a life skill that will serve you in many areas of your life.
  7. Practice self-care.
  8. Stop making excuses. This requires a certain amount of honesty in determining what is and what is not a “legitimate” excuse.
  9. Embrace and occasionally indulge your laziness. This last one might seem counterintuitive, but a lot of creativity emerges during this time of being lazy.
  10. This space left intentionally blank…

bitten and not smitten by the anti-muse

Now, go and write something amazing!

You heard him, everyone! What amazing thing are you planning to write?

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Karna Small Bodman

    What great advice for the “muse-driven” or “anti-muse” attack. I too am a more or less undisciplined writer….tackling the creative side one day with a vengeance, then backing off to handle email, house cleaning, the dogs – whatever. Thanks for a very thought-provoking column!!

    • Victor Acquista

      Yes, Karna! I feel solidarity with another undisciplined fellow author. Perhaps we should start a club? Better yet, how about Undisciplined Authors Anonymous? All joking aside, I think water seeks its own level and if your style is intermittent and that works for you, that’s where you level out. Glad you enjoyed the piece and thanks for taking a moment to comment.

  2. Lisa Black

    I don’t write every day either! I’m so relieved to hear someone else say that. I never have. I don’t write at all between books, except for personal letters (lots of those, I’m a throwback). If it works for you, great, and if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. Just keep writing.

  3. Victor Acquista

    Thanks, Lisa! I completely agree. As I attempted to convey, these are the push-pull realities for me. It’s nice to share experiences about writing and to learn from other authors about what works for them. I am always open to learning what approaches other writers have. I share your sense of relief in learning that I am not alone in my intermittent approach.

  4. Carl Reed

    Fun read, Victor! And dead on target. Another name for Resistance. My antimuse advices, “Sleep. You’ll work better refreshed.” When the entire day passes and I wake up in the dark of am… “Oh well! Better go back to sleep. You’ll be wider awake and do better work at dawn…” When dawn arrives and I wake up tired….

    • Victor Acquista

      Thanks for commenting, Carl! Reminds me of an internal debate I had in college when trying to cram for a test and pull an all-nighter: Which is better, to be well rested or to be well prepared? If only a fraction of the good stuff I write in my sleep could be retained, it would be wondrous indeed.

  5. Gayle Lynds

    What a terrific blog. I particularly liked the “anti” list. Without being able to fight back from the brink, one is doomed! 🙂