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Screw the Muse: You ARE a Writer

The end of the year can be strange for word-lovers. If you’re anything like me, your last “365” had great writing days and not-so-great ones. There were days when the muse sang and days when her only appearance was to say she didn’t exist. (And never had. Or never would again. You know how capricious the muse is.)

Well, screw that capricious muse. It’s time to take a stand. I’m calling all you word-lovers to take a step with me: it’s time to call yourself a writer.

muse

Screw the Muse: Power in the Name

I’m going to start by quoting this article, which is something you should consider reading:

Everyone engages in self-talk. But much depends on the way we do it. Scientists now find that the right words can free us from our fears and make us as wise about ourselves as we often are about others.

I’ll back that up with two more articles indicating the same thing: there is real power in what you tell yourself you are.

Of course, there are limitations; you won’t fly if you tell yourself you’re a bird! However, if you tell yourself you’re a writer, your likelihood of writing (choosing to write, learning to write, pursuing writing) is much improved…and that’s kind of like flying, isn’t it?

We’re heading into new-year-resolution time. You can get started on one right now: this upcoming year, call yourself a writer.

Writers write. If you are a writer, you will write. It’s time to call yourself a writer.

Screw the Muse: Write Without Her

Muses are fickle beasts; they simply aren’t reliable, and when you’re trying to write, they can’t be corralled. They can’t be trained. In the wake of that, there’s good news: your muse isn’t actually the reason you write.

“Writing is hard work, not magic.[…] It’s also about making a serious time commitment and getting the project done.”
― Suze Orman

Writing is not about your muse. It’s about your self-discipline.

Snoopy wouldn't lie.

Snoopy wouldn’t lie.

“Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Chuck Close

Your muse will dance into the picture sometimes, and on those days, your writing will soar. But on the days she doesn’t, you still need to write.

Show up. Write.

You don’t need your muse nearly as much as you thought.

Screw the Muse: A Fresh Start

Whatever happened in the past year, it’s over.

I’m sure you had some failures as a writer; I know I did. You hopefully had some successes, too — but the really crazy thing is you have to leave both failures and successes behind.

  • The failures are in the past. They only matter if you quit. Otherwise, they’re just learning experiences, nothing more, and they do not define you.
  • Your successes are also in the past. You can’t rest on them; you can’t define yourself by what’s behind you, but only by what’s ahead of you.

Yes, you’ll make more writing mistakes, and yes, you’ll have more writing successes. Don’t live in the last year. Look forward with hope. This new year will be amazing. (Why? Because you’re a writer!)

Screw the Muse: You Are a Writer

You write because you are a writer. This is important. You’re not writing to become a writer; you already are one, and that’s why you write.

You write because you’re a writer. There’s power in that. There’s momentum.

As we head into the new year, it is deeply important that you embrace your identity as a writer. It doesn’t matter if you just started or if you’ve been doing this for years. You are a writer, and writers write.

I want you to practice calling yourself a writer. Believe it. Feel the power of it; and as you process the freedom that comes with knowing you are a writer, you can view the upcoming year with great hope.

You’re going to write this year. It’s going to be awesome.

PRACTICE

Your homework this week is a really short one, but it’s crucial. I want you to reply to this post and state two things publicly, boldly, for all the world to see:

  • You are a writer. Say, “I am a writer.” DECLARE it! As you do this, you’re vowing to write in the upcoming year. It’s accountability and power all in one.
  • Tell your muse to go jump in a lake. You don’t need her, and you can phrase that however you want. Your muse might show up, or she (he, it, they) might not, but you will write regardless. You can. And you will.

2016, look out. We writers are coming your way.

About Ruthanne Reid

Bestselling author Ruthanne Reid writes about elves, aliens, vampires, and space-travel, and she is the author of the Among the Mythos series. Subscribe to her articles at RuthanneReid.com, and follow her on Twitter (@RuthanneReid)

  • Heather Galadriel McNamara

    I am a writer, and my Muse has been fired. Muses are for wannabes. I am a writer. I just need to write.

    • ruthannereid

      Fire that muse! You are a writer. This is a great step, Heather!

  • Windward

    Labels, almost by definition, are inaccurate; they categorize what cannot be categorized. I prefer the active verb not only to describe what I do, but to throw myself into it daily: I write.

    • ruthannereid

      Excellent attitude! Keep writing and don’t stop.

  • Sarkis Antikajian

    I have trouble talking, but I do much better writing. So, I am a writer rather than a talker.

    • ruthannereid

      Awesome, Sarkis! I’m so glad to hear you have an outlet. Write more than ever in 2016. You can do it!

  • ruth

    Thanks, Ruthanne. I am a writer. I have to write to express my thoughts, to hold on to a special moment, to reach out to a reader somewhere who might understand what I see and hear and feel. If I can reach just one and make a difference, I’m happy. My muse is still there, but when she’s sleeping I have to work without her. Thanks for being there for all of us, Ruthanne. I hear you.

    • ruthannereid

      Yes, Ruth, you do! I’m so glad you’re willing to do this. May your new year be filled with words!

  • Agree 100%. You’ll never get anywhere sitting around waiting for some mystical inspiration. Get out there and write.

    • ruthannereid

      Exactly, Jason!

  • I am an ambitious writer. I don’t need to be inspired by the Muse to write. Starting tomorrow I’ll exert myself to practice writing every single day.

    By the way, I want to share my article related to this subject: http://www.tinywriters.com/you-are-a-writer/

    As the new year is looming, let’s get off to a good start!

    • ruthannereid

      You’ve got it, Chan! You can do this, no matter what your muse is up to. Let’s start off the New Year together!

      • All right, let’s rock this fabulous year together 😉

  • I am a writer, and my muse can take a long walk down a short pier. I will write something every day of 2016.

    • ruthannereid

      You tell that muse, Ian!

  • There are so many days my key board has a backspace and delete button. I am a writer, I know this because when I do something other than writing or I dont write at all I am not a happy camper and others see and feel it. But I’m not just a writer it has to be right or I am not happy either… I will stare at my screen or the page, if I’m writing long hand, for hours, until I can figure out what to say or how to say it right.

    • ruthannereid

      Debra, that’s the right attitude! You can do this! Training your brain to write is the most important thing, and the only way to do that is to do it. I look forward to your success in the new year!

      • Today I am looking at the many projects some finished some not dating back to 84-85 to see what I will focus on. Or if not any of those I will start the new year with something new. I am working to let go of alot of things and reinvent myself my way…. I look forward to seeing and being involved with my change this year.

        • ruthannereid

          Sounds like you’re in for a really good year, one way or another!

          • Yep, looking for ways now to fill gaps when I have them,, so I dont eat, gain weight and become depressed like I can be or have.

  • debbi

    Thank you for the affirmation that we are writers!~
    This year, I will not pregnantly wait for an answer on one project, allowing it to demotivate me (excuse by any other name….)on moving forward with the next one.
    I will once again, as I did in the 2000’s calendarize my dates with myself for submittal and pre-research on same.

    • ruthannereid

      YES! Debbi, great attitude!

  • Yiro Abari High

    I am a writer because I know that. where I come from, writing hardly pays. It does, only once in a million. But I have continued to love writing, despite knowing this. I have seen the beauty of writing. and it’s worth more than anything to me. it has been the reason why I became stranded in writing. If your eyes can see the beauty of literature, you will write with or without a muse. I am going to write without a muse.

    • ruthannereid

      Absolutely, Yiro! Writing isn’t about making money. It’s about creating something beautiful – something that lasts. You can do this!

  • Parker

    I too have a problem communicating verbally, but I love putting my thoughts on paper. I have been on the sidelines reading what otgher authors have written. Although I will still read what others have written, I need to get in the game because I AM A WRITER.

    • ruthannereid

      You’ve nailed it, Parker! Stephen King said that writers read, and that helps us become better writers. You can absolutely do this!

  • Roy Lord

    Heck yeah i’m a Writer!!! I wont ‘wait’ for my muse any longer, i’m going to go out and meet her! A writer writes and from now on i will write at least 30 minutes every day. Thanks for the motivatiion.

    • ruthannereid

      That’s right, Roy! You can do this!

  • colleenmcconnell

    I am a writer! That is powerful! And if I am a writer, I have to write every day. EVERY day. I don’t even know my muse’s name, so how can I rely on her? Yeah!

    • ruthannereid

      Yes! You are a writer! You can do this, Colleen!

  • Caitlin Bartnik

    I put letters together to make words and sometimes string those together to form sentences. I’m a writer! Muses are silly and way less useful than cats. I’m excited to do more writing in 2016 and try new styles. I’m hoping to explore flash fiction and deep pov (which I learned about in the anniversary contest!).

    • ruthannereid

      Haha! Herding cats = herding muses. I like that imagery!

      I look forward to what you create in the new year!

  • Robin

    I am a writer and everyday in 2016 I am going to write a diary. The diary will acknowledge my muse. Thank it for being there. My diary won’t feed it. My diary will be like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis . It will express who I am in the world.
    I do not think my muse will ever go away. It tells me I don’t know how to do this, I should have listened more at school and not played so much sport and remember the teacher helped you because you were dumb.
    My word creates my world and everyday I have to deal with my muse because I can be so easily my world creates me and react to everything and especially my muse.

    • ruthannereid

      Excellent, Robin! Definitely ignore that toxic voice; that’s not a muse. That’s an inner critic, and that guy never helps.

      He’s a liar. You can write. You are a writer. Anything you don’t know how to do, you can learn. YOU CAN DO THIS!

  • DL Raen

    I am a Writer! I boxed my muse up, & sent her to the Bahamas – she is currently drinking Mai-Tai’s and dancing with Cabana boys… I think I should trade places with her, and write from there! 🙂

    • ruthannereid

      Awesome, DL! Hopefully, she’ll come back with some cool ideas, but if she doesn’t, you’ll still be writing without her. 😀

      • DL Raen

        Thanks Ruthanne! 😉

  • I AM A WRITER! This has actually been the year that I learned that, the first year I actually began to think f myself as a writer, not an ‘aspiring writer’. Nope. I AM a writer, and there’s no turning back. God called me here, and I’m staying.
    I did have my failures and successes. I stopped counting the rejections I received, or the contests I lost. I actually signed onto a publishing deal, but had to cancel two months in. I wasn’t ready, but I gained a whole lot of experience from the matter. I’m taking those lessons and leaving them behind.
    I also got my first song recorded, and though I’m yet to have someone interested in it, it’s beyond cool to actually listen to something and know it’s mine 🙂
    2015 has been an awesome year, but I’m letting it go, and letting God guide my steps for 2016. Awesome article, thanks for the encouragement just before we kick off another year as writers!!

    • Susan W A

      Wow … I was taken aback and then buoyed by your pledge to “let go” of your awesome year in 2015 to move forward with 2016!
      I’ll reflect on that for awhile.

      • Thanks… I just want to focus on what God has in store for the future, and not be held down by the past. I’ll keep the good things that happened as memories and the not-so-good things as lessons, but not dwell on them. God’s in control 🙂

        • LilianGardner

          I feel just the same, Reagan. God’s in control of my whole life and I’ve nothing to fear. Happy New Year.

          • ruthannereid

            Amen to this whole thread!

    • ruthannereid

      Reagan, this is great! I’m so glad it encouraged you. Letting go of those past accomplishments is important since we never know what God has planned for us the next year. I’m looking forward to seeing what He has for you next!

  • Danielle OShaughnessy

    I am a Writer. My Muse has done nothing for me anyways. I’m kicking her to the curb. My voice, however is gone. It’s been missing for awhile. my characters have nothing to say

    • Susan W A

      wish I had something wise and energizing to say that would shift things for you. perhaps your characters are busy pondering their goals for 2016, and will return with even greater brilliance of perspective in the new year.

      best of luck to you as you release and reinvent.

      • ruthannereid

        Seconded!

    • ruthannereid

      You ARE a writer! Excellent, Danielle!

      I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling so hard for so long. It’s a real challenge when your characters don’t want to talk to you anymore. I don’t know if this helps, but I’ve been there. It’s a dark, scary, quiet place to be.

      You CAN get to the other side. You can refill your creative well. Don’t give up hope. *HUG*

  • George McNeese

    I AM A WRITER!

    For years, I felt myself unworthy of making such a statement. I wasn’t writing every day. I didn’t write stories or novels. I wasn’t doing anything with the degree I earned in that field. It’s only in this past year where I started to believe, slowly but surely. This year, I overcame a lot of fears from starting a blog to typing out drafts on a computer. To any other person, it may not be a big deal, but I wrestled with these fears for a long time. I think it was the “muse” who told me I wasn’t good enough. As of today, I’m filing for divorce from my muse. I am making the commitment to write more this upcoming year. Maybe, gulp, write a novel. We’ll see.

    • Susan W A

      Yipee! Guess what … the year will go by whether you write or not, so you might as well make whatever progress you can; build on it piece by piece. Recognize that each word, each sentence, each paragraph, each chapter equates to your “portfolio” being bigger than it’s ever been before.
      To me it seems you’re apologizing (feeling guilty?) for not “using” your degree. It’s YOU who brings life to your your talent and passion, not your degree. Stand proud in your accomplishment of COMPLETING your degree and for finding ways to honor that part of your essence.

      • ruthannereid

        We all have hurdles to overcome, including our past mistakes. Letting them go is key.

    • ruthannereid

      What an encouraging comment! George, you can absolutely do this. You CAN. You won’t be doing it alone, either.

  • LilianGardner

    Hello Ruthanne! I love your daring, awesome post. Thanks so much for the boost.
    Here goes!

    I am a writer.
    Muse, dear muse, on the days that you cooperate, I’ll play along and love you. On the days that you tantalize me and are elusive, I’ll ignore you, and keep on writing. However, drop by as much as you like, and we’ll take advantage to create some fabulous stories together.

    • ruthannereid

      Lilian, this is beautiful. You can absolutely do this! 🙂 A partnership with the unreliable muse is great, but in the end, it’s about you writing. I’m so glad it encouraged you! Happy New Year!

  • Thanks for the inspiring post.

    I am a writer.

    Sometimes I write because my muse turns up and inspires me. Sometimes I write when she doesn’t. On occasion I write in spite of her. She doesn’t matter.

    • ruthannereid

      That’s right! She’s cool when she shows up, but when she doesn’t, you can still write. Make this your year!

  • FritziGal

    For anyone who may be down in the dumps because they’re working some 9-to-5 job when they would rather be a writer, there’s a positive way of dealing with this. Instead of telling yourself that you’re a shoe saleman who would someday like to be a writer, just turn it around and say: “I am a writer who is temporarily working as a shoe salesman.” You’d be surprised what a difference this can make! Years ago, when I was doing secretarial work, I convinced myself that I was working for this company incognito, since no one knew I was actually a writer. It enabled me to have the last laugh at a time when I really needed it.

    • Susan W A

      Love the idea! Thanks. I’ll have to try that sometime!

      • ruthannereid

        You and me both. 🙂

    • ruthannereid

      Excellent idea! That’s a terrific way to look at it!

  • My name is Crim and I am a writer!

    I have completed Nanowrimo, editting it, and I am on to my second novel.

    Muse good bye! *tosses out the airlock* Bye bye!

    • ruthannereid

      YAY! You can do this, Crim! Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! (Don’t worry about her, either. She hardly needs to breathe!)

  • LaCresha Lawson

    So, I see that I don’t even need a muse! I am one!

    • ruthannereid

      You’ve got it, LaCresha! You can do this!

  • Luigi Vampa

    ‘I AM THE BEST DAMN WRITER IN THE UNIVERSE!’. Does that work?

    • Susan W A

      “Does that work?”… LOL

      • ruthannereid

        Hehe!

    • LilianGardner

      Here! Here!

      • ruthannereid

        Thumbs up!

    • ruthannereid

      If it gets you writing? HECK YEAH!

      • Luigi Vampa

        Haha.

  • Wanda Kiernan

    I really like “If you show up and write, you will write.” So I’m a writer, goodbye muse, and I’ll be showing up to write everyday. Thanks Ruthanne for the inspiration.

    • ruthannereid

      I’m so glad to hear this, Wanda! You can do it! I and many others will be joining you. 🙂

  • Kathryn VanWyhe

    I am a Writer and I don’t need a Muse! I can write great things all on my own!
    I have only just begun writing but I can promise you that my only New Year’s Resolution is to write daily without abandon!

    • ruthannereid

      Preach it, Kathryn! You can absolutely do this!

  • Gary G Little

    It seems for the past week my Muse has fallen off the wagon. Amuse is stone cold sobber, and perched on my right shoulder. Damn it, that’s my good ear too. Muse, however, is probably on a protracted pub crawl. 🙂

    • ruthannereid

      You don’t need no stinking muse, Gary! That’s right! (If I said, “that’s write,” would you smack me?)

      • Gary G Little

        Ah no. To smack you I’d have to be close, and I’d rather buy you a cup of coffee, or tea, and discuss life, the universe, and everything … 🙂

  • Michael Gabriel Sy

    I’m a friggin’ writer! Screw you! I don’t care what you say!
    AAAND I don’t need no muse so buh-bye!

    • ruthannereid

      That’s right, Michael! You can do this!

  • Susan W A

    Dear 2016 encounter:
    I truly am a writer. I’d be glad to discuss it with you further if you’re curious about what that means.

    Dear Muse,
    You know what? It sounds cool … “muse”. Your name holds the power of inspiration, the magical touch to create imagination. You have a presence that is quite ethereal, but your ego is much heavier. It demands that you sit in my aura and flip an occasional nugget of an idea my way, taking credit when that wisp of a thought is developed into something more substantial.
    Don’t worry; I know you have your own dreams, too. You could BE so much more if you didn’t feel obligated to be on-call for me. Let’s agree to pursue our own passions, with the knowledge that we can collaborate on projects at any instant that suits us both. Meanwhile, enjoy the lightness and energy that comes from the release of expectations. Here’s to a FABULOUS 2016.

    • ruthannereid

      Well said, Susan! Woohoo! The muse can do whatever she wants. Meanwhile, we’ll be writing.

  • Ingo Hampe

    I am a writer. Look how I write! If you like, you can join my. If you don’t, I’ll write on without you.

    • ruthannereid

      YES! You can do it, Ingo!

  • Susan W A

    Really enjoyed your post, Ruthanne. So much of my identify as a writer has come from the inspiration, information, and invitation to be a writer as offered in the posts on The Write Practice. Thanks for your contribution to that.

    I want to share a quote that my mind created as I was less than energetic in an exercise class that earlier in the day I had been so looking forward to. I really didn’t want to waste my time by not putting in a full effort, despite my lack of self-motivation at the time. I wanted to get out of my temporary rut and go full-force for the class. My mind gave me the inspiration to do that by sending me the message:

    Resistance invites persistence.

    Hope that thought helps some people in their writing practice.

    • I’m determined

      Your message –
      Resistance invites Persistence –
      Most apt.
      may I use it? Thanks

      • Susan W A

        Sure. I’m glad it sparked a thought for you. If you include it somewhere in writing, you can put my initials (in lower case) in square brackets to attribute it.

        -[swa]

    • ruthannereid

      EXCELLENT quote! You can do it, Susan! I’m so glad to hear you’ve been helped by this awesome site. 🙂

  • Deena

    Stephen King, in his brilliant “On Writing,” had this to say about the muse: “There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. …You have to do all the grunt labor…while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at…and he may not be much of a conversationalist…but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic.There’s stuff in there that can change your life.”

    A happy new year and a successful writing year to all.
    Deena

    • ruthannereid

      Well said, Deena!

  • Jodi

    I have never had a muse so it is not hard to say, “goodbye”. My hesitation is more about pain. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter & bleed.” This resonates with me at this time. Maybe that’s why I have been avoiding getting back into it. I am a writer and will quit cowering in the shadows!

    • ruthannereid

      Jodi, that’s both brave and wise. There is pain often in writing, I know. But after, AFTER, then comes peace. You can do this!

      • Jodi

        Thanks so much Ruthanne!!

  • Siteri Nadi

    I am a writer! There, you criticising-dragon-editor you, read that and weep!

    • ruthannereid

      Yes! Yes, you are!

  • Wise words from one of my favorite authors. 🙂 I’m going to get some writing done now because of this.

    • ruthannereid

      I’m so glad to hear that, Garrhet! You and I are both tackling this new year with a fresh start and a new attitude.

  • Peg Robertson Blakely

    I AM a writer. And I have met the muse, and the muse is ME-the writer!

    • I love that, Peg. Reminds me of “make your own luck.”

      • Peg Robertson Blakely

        Thanks, Adam! I believe that everything we need is within, waiting for us to discover and acknowledge it.

    • ruthannereid

      Yes, you are, Peg!!!! Wow!

  • Beth Keller

    I used to have a Pinterest board called Wishful Writing. I’m changing the name to I am a Writer. Thanks for the encoragement.

    • ruthannereid

      Beth, that is WONDERFUL! I’m so proud of you!

  • Giulia Esposito

    Well, this is really hard for me as a few years ago I had decided to really focus on my writing and then really let that slip thanks to a change in jobs. But, I am writer.

    • ruthannereid

      I’ve been there, Giulia! You can recover from this. I know because I had to. You can do it!

      • Giulia Esposito

        thanks ruthanne! I am trying to get in some writing time every day. Even if I don’t write a lot (like today) I figure it will unrust me.

  • I’m late to this particular party, but, yes, I am a writer. Thanks for the reminder that I need to keep writing whether or not inspiration is holding my hand at any particular moment.

    • ruthannereid

      Adam, there is no “late” to this party. There’s just joining the party – and starting to write. 😀

  • Firabella Rose

    I am a writer because i love to write. I don’t need a muse to provide inspiration because the muse is me! You’re right there is power in that.

    • ruthannereid

      YES! Awesome, Firabella!

  • Love this. It’s quite liberating when you finally acknowledge to yourself you are a writer and not cringe at mentioning because you think you aren’t / it sounds wanky / people will question you / etc.

    • ruthannereid

      Janine, I’m so glad to hear that! I know those reasons all too well, and they just do nothing but hurt. Writing in spite of them is the way to go!

  • Grace Wilson

    Thanks, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. I am a writer, but have always been too afraid to publish or post anything because I don’t think people will read it or hear me. This year that is going to change. I will write and I will publish whether anyone reads it or not!

    • ruthannereid

      Grace, I’m so glad to hear that. This year is your year! You’re writing because that’s who you are! 🙂

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  • Jay Warner

    I’m a writer, so Muse you can go jump in the lake!

    • ruthannereid

      YES! You go, Jay!

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  • I’m a writer. Muse, go jump in a lake!

    Same opinion applies to the band Muse. Never was a fan.

    • ruthannereid

      I agree! Awesome resolution. 🙂

  • Meg JB Geist

    I’m a writer, and have been a writer for years. The muse is no longer here, because it’s been thrown out into the freezing ice bucket of a lake. I find my writing to be mundane and useless, but maybe that’s just me. I’m starting to believe we have own story, voice, and perspective. How dare I let my story go untold. With that said, it seems I become discouraged, which I think is the most deadly poison one can inject themselves with. Ahh, the antidote. Feedback, positive, negative. It’s what we do with the commentary. Disregard it, which is one way, or take it as a learning experience and run with it.

    • ruthannereid

      Excellent Meg! I know what you mean, too: we know what we WANT to create, but it’s not happening yet. This is normal!! I can’t emphasize that enough to you.

      Maybe this will help: https://youtu.be/3ResTHKVxf4

  • Nina

    I am and always will be a writer, and my muse is currently frozen under a lake from the harsh winter I’s had so far.

    • ruthannereid

      YES, Nina! My muse just might be with her. But we don’t need them. We can do this!

  • Sana Damani

    I am a writer. I do not need a muse. She may go on vacation or even into retirement, but I’ll still be a writer.

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  • Margaret Stephenson

    I am a writer! I love my words and the muse is life and everything around me.

  • Tonya Jean

    Great post. “I am a writer.” My self talk now says, “Go. Be brilliant, be funny and do not fear the Muse.”

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  • Rick Shields

    I am a writer! Muse here’s a one way ticket to find someone else, you’re no longer needed.

  • Yes .I am a writer too.It’s kind of liberating saying that.Truly the pen has a lot of power .Wonderful article.

    • I’m so glad it helped you, Dramrita! You ARE a writer. 🙂 Hold on to that truth!