Finding Your Muse

Authors are creatives, artists, daydreamers, ponderers, wanderers, observers. We muse over our ideas and stories. And we have muses that inspire us. But where do those inspirations come from? Every writer is different, and I find I have no shortage of ideas (knock on wood; perhaps that time will come? Better get 'em down now!). Rather, I tend to have a shortage of time to get them all written down. Regardless, what are my primary muses?

  1. Travel - Be it a local trail or new country, mountain or meadow or lake, the beauty of the world inspires me most!

  2. Personal Life - The old adage is write what you know. Be it subconsciously or purposely, my life experiences inspire my stories. (I lost my mother to cancer 15 years ago when I was 25, so the lost/ill/deceased mother element seeps into a lot of my characters in one way or another because I know how it can affect a person). 

  3. Personal Triumphs or Tribulations - That struggle I had when I was 25 and in graduate school might come in handy sometime. Same goes for that successful endeavor I took on, or a feat accomplished, or heartache experienced. Using some of our ups and downs can lead to inspiration...or character backbones.

  4. Areas of interest - by this I mean passions, hobbies, interests. I LOVE flowers. And coffee. And gardening, hiking, baking, science and nature. And my sons and husband. Well guess what? Hmm, my characters may have similar interests. But not only that, perhaps a hike up a mountain or a visit to the local post office while mailing a care package to a loved one might just stir up a story idea (ahem, both have; stories in work).

So many things can serve as muses:

Current events, music, art, history, biographies, friends, famous people, everyday people, travel, scenery, personal life experiences, heartaches, triumphs, passions, hobbies, objects, family...

Struggling with finding a fresh idea? Where can we go? Well... 

Many gather inspiration in public places: at the gym, on the street, in airport/bus terminals, on the subway, at the mall or grocery store or library or coffee shop (or [insert any building that houses people or things], in the country or city, with family or without family, mountains, meadows, beach, or desert...the list goes on and on. Don't forget your own backyard, too.

It comes down to the fact that not one tangible thing inspires writers...

The world around us and the people within it are our muses.

I asked the Twitter world (most of my followers are in the writing/outdoors biz in one way or another) and this is what they had to say. As more people responded, and at the time of posting this blog article, the answers are spread, but Everyday life experiences is just inching out Travel/places:

Getting specific, what inspired some of my stories?

For A Hundred Kisses, Scotland and the love of happy ever afters were my inspiration. I have always loved Scotland even before I visited. My first visit was in Diana Gabaldon's books. I was "in Scotland" for over 15 years...that is, I was perfecting my Scotland-based stories (and after three "practice" novels, the fourth, A Hundred Kisses, was the one to land a publisher). I also have a thing for historical romances, especially medieval ones, so that served as guiding muse. And to my surprise, I threw in some supernatural elements. So, to wrap up, my muses for this one: Scotland, love of romance, other books, history.

For its prequel (in the editing process), history, specifically the Vikings, was my muse. Of course Scotland, too. I also embed, without trying, some of my own personal hurdles into books, as I mentioned above. Death, loss, upbringing, personal hardships: they all sneak into my work, including this one.

For the sequel, similar muses arose. I'm currently writing that one now.

For another project, a women's fiction, I jumped out of my historical romance comfort zone and wrote what I knew: parenting, autism, loss, death, science.

In a different vein, my magazine article-writing was spearheaded by the idea that I wanted to write not only about traveling, but traveling with kids, and with my autistic son who adores nature almost as much as his mom and dad (maybe more?). Since that article, I've been fortunate to write several more, and I keep filling my portfolio, as I enjoy writing about the outdoors and my kids. Look out for one soon on our most recent family adventure!

Not to give away all my future/in work projects, but other muses for my current projects include: more travels to some amazing locales (New Zealand, the mountains of New England, Guatemala, Yellowstone National Park, to name a few) personal life experiences, parenting ups and downs and special moments, my son's fascinations with volcanoes and weather, a sweet (true?) story my aunt told me about my grandmother, and more amazing locales (see the trend here?), just to name a few.

So there you have it. What's your muse? I'd love to hear from you!

Best, always, and keep writing wherever your muse takes you,