Sometimes The Muse Just Won’t Shut Up

It’s a little after 5am.  I’ve been awake since 3, and am not feeling particularly endeared to my creative gears at the moment.  No one likes Writer’s Block, and I do appreciate my muse when it’s on fire, spouting out plot ideas and crafting sentences…but why must my muse be most active *after* I’ve gone to bed?  I am not nocturnal, by any means, though it appears my muse keeps a vampiric schedule.


I keep a notepad and pen in my nightstand for such occasions, quickly jotting down ideas so I don’t forget them come morning.  Sometimes, though, my muse starts writing out a scene in my head, and my hand just can’t keep up with the pace.  So with a heavy sigh, I turn on the light, get out of bed, and go to my computer where I can hastily type up the words swirling around in my head.

Then I try once again to go to sleep.  Do I have visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in my head?  No.  I get more plot ideas and scenes running through my mind like an internal movie screen with no off button.  Sometimes, after laying there for two hours, I can get back to sleep.  Then there are nights like tonight (now today?) where I might as well give it up.  Maybe if I didn’t already have problems with insomnia and sleep deprivation, these little bursts of creativity wouldn’t bother me as much.  But I do, and then my muse makes me cranky.  I had planned on devoting the entire next day to writing, couldn’t it have waited?  As it is, now I’m too tired to jump-start my editing goals.

I have a love-hate relationship with my muse.  What about you?  When does your muse tend to strike with brilliance?  Is it at inconvenient times, inconvenient places?  Or do you have the opposite problem, and your muse broods silently for longer periods of time?

25 comments on “Sometimes The Muse Just Won’t Shut Up

  1. You know a lot of people (myself included) would kill for your muse.

    • I know, and I am grateful for it. I’m just one of those people whose entire day is shot if I don’t get a good night’s rest. The muse is only valuable if you can actually do something with it.

  2. Katy says:

    Oh yes, I feel your pain! I get a lot of ideas just before I fall asleep. One time when I had terrible writers’ block and a creative writing assignment due that evening, I set myself up in the middle of the day to go to bed with a notepad ready by my side…Two blissful nanna nap hours later I awoke to a couple of pages of a story idea!

    I’m sure a study into this would reveal some connection with the subconscious letting those ideas through as our conscience falls asleep. In any case, it’s most annoying when I’m soooo tired and happily snuggled into bed when an idea comes. If I turn on the light or get up I know it will be ages before I can get so comfortable again. BUT, I know if I don’t, I will definitely not remember it in the morning. Thankfully, I study via correspondence and when I work it’s from home, so I just tell myself to get up and do it…I can always sleep tomorrow. The life of a reclusive writer! How cliché!

    • Nice, tricking your muse. I know, I lay there thinking, “is this so important that if I forget it, I’ll regret it, or do I mind starting from scratch in the morning?” The answer is usually, yes, it’s that important.

      I’m fortunate right now because I just graduated and won’t have work till the Fall. Although I do some tutoring, and it’s not very confidence-inspiring when you can barely stay awake through tutorial.

  3. Susan A. says:

    I have the same problem as you with ideas hitting me at night and keeping me from sleep. Sometimes they are so vivid I have to get up and write them down. It’s like you don’t have a choice. The other time my ideas come is driving in the car with music playing. I love it if I have a long trip by myself, as it gives plenty of time for the iPod to go through the playlist and let my imagination run wild.

    • I don’t think I’d want my ideas to come while driving! How do you make sure you remember them? Or is your memory better during the day?

      • Susan A. says:

        Actually, my memory is better when driving because I can just write everything down when I get to my destination or later that evening. Sometimes, of it is a multiple day drive, I can continue on thinking about the story the next day as I resume my travels. It’s the ideas late at night that could be more easily forgotten in sleep.

      • Okay, mulling over a story on the road sounds like a good use of time. Actually, I’ve started thinking up blog posts on my drives. My problem would be when the muse starts crafting the prose and dialogue. Then I need a pencil or keyboard asap!

      • Susan A. says:

        Oh, I definitely avoid coming up with dialog while driving. That would force me to pull over and start writing at the next rest stop, lol. It’s more like just contemplating the theme, and some scenes. Perhaps a basic story line. Greater detail definitely comes at night when it’s quiet and there are no distractions (except the need for sleep of course).

  4. The Rungs of A Ladder says:

    I found this great website, which I think will help you out, I myself, am experimenting with my ‘creative spark’ and found it quite useful.
    Here’s the blog that redirects you to that website.

    I hope you find this helpful as I did, I get my spark when I am all hyped up, and usually in a very peaceful serene environment – plus when I start talking to myself =).
    Keeping a notebook helps.

  5. Like you, my muse seems to be most creative when she can wake me up in the middle of the night. 3am seems to be a really good time. Not that she isn’t productive during the day, it’s just the really really good stuff comes while I’m sleeping. I tried just jotting down a few notes, but it didn’t work nearly as well as if I just got up and started typing it all out while it was fresh and flowing. I’ll take the ideas whenever they come and am grateful for them. But 9am would be soooo much better. 🙂

    • Hm, maybe Katy’s right and a study should be done. Yeah, my ideas during the day are just ideas, things to mull over and play with. But if it happens at night, it’s like this itch that will drive you insane if you don’t respond.

      I’m suddenly envisioning a dark fantasy of possession by the creative muse. (Not my genre, if someone wants to run with that!)

      Thanks for stopping by, Rhonda! 🙂

  6. Ah yes, my muse is definitely into the inconvienent inspiriation. Often though…she whispers to me when I should be working on something else. I try to write down those ideas and set them aside so I can work on the task at hand. I have had my muse wake me up in the middle of the night though. Not so nice when it’s an idea for a horror story. LOL

    • Lol, talk about bringing your stories to life. You might as well give up on going back to sleep and just keep on writing til dawn.

      Hm, my muse used to rescue me from very dull college classes. I remember one class where the teacher just rambled for three hours every time, and I spent a good deal of the semester planning out a trilogy. But it looked like I was taking copious notes.

  7. Ugh, I had that happen the other day. GREAT idea for a blog post about my character and some character in a book I had just read, but I was sooooo tired, and then? Poof. Gone. Not fair at all.

    As far as my muse, we have a pretty good relationship. We play when it’s playtime and get to work when it’s work time. As long as I give her plenty of playtime during the day (showers, chores, dayjob) then she’s willing to work when the evening rolls around (usually – not so much when my house is flooded and the floors are being ripped up).

    Also, saw your post on Sonia’s blog: do you still draw MLPs? Were you part of the MLPTP or the Arena by any chance? It would be fun to find another pony person writer 🙂

    • That is definitely not fair. Oh, what happens if the muse overloads you with too many ideas? Does that ever happen?

      Yep, I still draw them! I’ve never been part of any websites or artists’ circles. I actually only started drawing them a year ago as a coping strategy for when school was stressing me out. It’s just a fun hobby. Yay for finding someone else who likes them! 🙂

      • “Oh, what happens if the muse overloads you with too many ideas? Does that ever happen?”

        Sticky Notes 🙂 It happens all the time – I’ve got drawers and drawers full of sticky notes. I know their good ideas if she keeps throwing them at me.

        “Someone else who likes them” is a bit of an understatement: I paid for my wedding with ponies 😛 I used to have over three hundred until that wedding, and I still have a few in my closet! (In fact, I only started writing by playing in a pony RPG when I was younger :P)

      • That is awesome, though a little sad. I guess we have to let go of those kinds of things eventually. I still have a box of mine. Maybe I should finally relent and sell them, pay for my next book cover or something.

        I got into writing through an RPG too! Well, I wrote stories before that, ever since 4th grade, but it was when I joined a LoTR RPG in high school that I first thought to make a career out of writing.

        (If you’re interested, here’s a link to my MLP pictures:

  8. (again with the no reply button :P)

    I kept my absolute favorites, so it’s not so bad, but I was sad to see the BrushNGrow Princesses go. I made a boatload of money on them, though, so that helped 😉

    If you want help figuring out pricing let me know. I don’t follow the community anymore, but I could easily find the info for you.

    Yay for RPGs! I never was in a LOTR one (a lot of my friends were), but I played X-men RPs a lot, and Dark Tower (and I may or may not have played in a MLP/X-men RP as a Wolverine pony with claws >:P).

    I’ll take a look at the link tonight – my dayjob blocks facebook 🙂

  9. *jaw drops* Those drawings are EXCELLENT! OMG, don’t make me commission you for my MLP characters (I totally would – I have done so before).

    Wolvie-pony was fun to play >:)

    Totally shoot me an email – I’d love to do a little pony research again! 🙂

  10. […] Sometimes the Muse Just Won’t Shut Up by Angela Wallace […]

  11. Catie Rhodes says:

    I get a little high (or maybe endorphin rush is the correct way to say it) when I write. Once I’m finished writing, my mind is still running a thousand miles per hour. Sometimes I just stay up and write until my brain is to tired to work anymore. Other times, like you, I’m annoyed. 😀

  12. […] this post was inspired by two of those imaginative ladies. Angela Wallace posted “Sometimes the Muse Just Won’t Shut Up” about her little idea whisperer waking her up […]

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