On The Muse

The professional does not wait for inspiration.

Waiting for inspiration to strike so that you can get that creative work is strictly a strategy for amateurs. The professional never waits.

Instead, the professional goes and finds inspiration through hard work, through consistent work, through the struggle. Go find the muse instead of waiting for her arrival:

We’re all nothing without the Muse. But the pro has learned that the goddess prizes labor and dedication beyond any theatrical seeking of her favors. The professional does not wait for inspiration; he acts in anticipation of it. He knows that when the Muse sees his butt in the chair, she will deliver.

This has been my “secret sauce” for years and the “magic” of how I get stuff done. I simply block out time on my calendar (now it’s organic and intuitive, no set scheduling is really required) and I just do work. I get it done.

My writing, for instance, is a prime example of that. I do most, if not all, of my creative writing in the morning. I’ve been doing this for years, and it continues to pay off every single day.

There are many days (i.e. most days) where the so-called Muse does not show up, ready and willing to provide me favor for my work. But I don’t wait for her to show up. I simply sit down, begin my craft, and miraculously, for the last 14 years, she arrives, sometimes early in the process and sometimes at the very, very end.

Steven Pressfield shares this idea perfectly:

The monks in their saffron robes mount the steps to the kendo at the same hour each morning. When the abbot strikes the chime, the monks place their palms together and sit.

You and I may have to operate in a more chaotic universe. But the object remains the same: to approach the mystery via order, commitment and passionate intention.

When we convince day upon day in the same space at the same time, a powerful energy builds up around us. This is the energy of our intention, of our dedication, of our commitment.

The goddess sees this energy and she rewards it.

This daily, early-morning habit of rising early to write has paid off in spades. Please notice, though, that I did not say (and will never say) that it has gotten any easier. It’s just as hard as it was when I started.

But I have come to expect her arrival and she’s never let me down.

[Oh, and by the way, I do the same thing for software development. I have been building software on the opposite end of the day (my other form of writing) for a long time as well. For whatever reason, this particular time of the day (late night, super early-morning) rewards me with my best work. It’s so magical how this really happens…]