Unlock the Muse – April 18, 2018

Less than half of April remains. It is flying by too quickly. Even so, my youngest son, whose birthday is still a couple of months away, keeps asking me how many more days until his birthday. One day, when I told him it was still a long time away, he burst into tears. Oh, to be a child again, when every day is almost an eternity. Without the agony of all that waiting, though please.

Sometimes the best way to break out of a rut and find inspiration is to walk away from the computer, the notebook, the desk, and get some physical exercise. Find new surroundings and just be alive. In that light, here is this week’s writing prompt:

Lie down in your yard and feel the curve of the earth beneath you. Ponder the infinity of the universe and the finiteness of humans, then write your own account of why we’re here. Don’t confine yourself by fact. Let your imagination lead the way.

I hope you aren’t getting tired of me using examples from the book Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. It’s just full of great encouragement! Take this essay, “Why I Write,” for example. In this essay, Goldberg offers some solid advice on beating back the nay-sayers and the self-doubt. She says:

Why do I write?” It’s a good question. Ask it of yourself every once in a while. No answer will make you stop writing, and over time you will find you have given every response.

1. Because I’m a jerk.
2. Because I want the boys to be impressed.
3. So my mother will like me.
4. So my father will hate me.
5. No one listens to me when I speak.
6. So I can start a revolution.
7. In order to write the great American novel and make a million dollars.
8. Because I’m neurotic.
9. Because I’m the reincarnation of William Shakespeare.
10. Because I have something to say.
11. Because I have nothing to say.

She concludes with these words:

When the old nag in you comes around with “Why are you wasting your time? Why do you write?,” just dive onto the page, be full of answers, but don’t try to justify yourself. You do it because you do it. (emphasis mine)

Within the essay she encourages you to sit down and write the answers to that question. Why do you write? There is no right answer, and tomorrow it may change. But ask yourself the question. Then move on and keep writing.

When I went looking for an interesting word to profile this week, my sister offered up distraction. I think she thinks I’m distracted from my writing goal! Maybe she’s right, but here goes.




1. A thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.

2. Extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Distraction dates back to the mid-15 century, “the drawing away of the mind,” from Latin distractionem “a pulling apart, separating,” noun of action from past participle stem of distrahere. Meaning “mental disturbance” (as in driven to distraction, etc.) dates from circa 1600. Meaning “a thing or fact that distracts” is from 1610s. (from etymoline.com)

I kind of like this description from wikipedia.com:

Distraction is the process of diverting the attention of an individual or group from a desired area of focus and thereby blocking or diminishing the reception of desired information. Distraction is caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of something other than the object of attention. Distractions come from both external sources, and internal sources. External distractions include factors such as visual triggers, social interactions, music, text messages, and phone calls. There are also internal distractions such as hunger, fatigue, illness, worrying, and daydreaming. Both external and internal distractions contribute to the interference of focus.

I’m not distracted, I’m daydreaming! A perfectly legitimate writing exercise, right?

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask! Put it in the comments below, or send your question by email here:

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