Urania, Muse of Astrology

Normally, on Thursdays I use this space to geek out about something related to games. For example, I have a deck in Hearthstone that’s doing really well, I have thoughts on how important board game expansions are to a base game’s life cycle, and I want to help more people get comfortable with the somewhat daunting game of Twilight Imperium. But I can’t talk about any of that today. Last night, something happened to me that is so writerly, I just have to share it with you.

I was laying in bed last night, having trouble getting to sleep. I rolled around, trying to clear my head, but it wasn’t shutting down. There was too much noise. It took a while, but at around 2:30 am, the noise started to take shape. It was dialog. A scene. An idea.

At 2:45 I rolled out of bed and came back to my desk. I pulled out my Moleskine and started writing. It’s a rough outline, little more than the barest of bones for a story, but it got the idea out of my head enough for me to get some sleep. This morning, I’m still thinking about it. I’m turning the idea over in my head. And I likely will consider it throughout the day.

I have no idea if this story will work. It’s an extremely raw idea that could simply be unworkable. But the point is, it didn’t let me go. It grabbed my attention and I had no alternative but to deal with it before I could get any rest. This happens when you’re a writer. And the only thing to do is write the idea down.

It’s okay if you look at the idea in the light of day and say “why did I think this was good?”, since if you don’t take the moment to write the idea down, you won’t know either way. Things that seem vivid and crystal clear at night can dissolve by the light of day. But we mustn’t fear new ideas, when it comes to story or life.

We need our ideas, even the ones rude enough to keep us awake. We need to always be considering new alternatives, notions that keep us motivated, points of view we hadn’t considered. The brain, despite its composition, needs to be worked like a muscle to stay in shape. Let it atrophy or fester or dwell on the same-old same-old, and it’ll deteriorate faster than an ice cream cake at a corporate luncheon. The muse, that ephemeral and often anthropomorphised part of our minds that generates new ideas, is almost like your brain’s personal trainer. Listen to it.

There are a lot of things that can keep one awake in the dead of night. Worries over finances, anxiety about relationships, wondering if you left the gas on, and so on. New ideas are one thing that can not only be adequately dealt with, but also can lead to new patterns of thought, new creative endeavors, entire new pathways in life. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be afraid of your muse. Let it guide you to imagine, to think, and to create.

Then give it a warm glass of milk and send it back to bed because dammit, I need sleep already.

I’m happy this morning, but I’m really, really tired.