Even a writer’s muse needs romance

I found this heart in my hair paste this morning; a gift from my Muse.
I found this heart in my hair paste this morning; a gift from my Muse.
Because this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, it makes sense that we focus on tips for writing intimate love scenes. Or more specifically, how to effectively insert (see what I just did there?) descriptive phrases like:

“He grabbed her bare shoulders, caressing them with the kind of longing one only reserves for fresh-baked bread …”


“She de-pansed him in one quick motion, opening a floodgate of memories from freshman gym class…”

As you can see, this is a genre I am intimately familiar with because, as I’ve said before, you need to write what you know. And believe me, when it comes to intimacy no one knows it better than myself. That said, as a personal favor to 50 Shades author E.L. James, I will actually NOT be offering insights regarding the the ins-and-outs (See how I did that?) of writing descriptive lovemaking scenes. The reason is because her latest book, “14 Shades of Puce” is due out later today, and she is concerned many of you would recognize some of the techniques I would be discussing today.

In short, that “fresh bread” example wasn’t something I pulled out (are you following these?) just willy-nilly (Subtlety is important).

So instead, we will turn our attention to a different aspect of romance and writing. If you’re a serious writer who also happens to be in an equally serious relationship, I have news for you: We all know about your love triangle! That’s right! Don’t try to deny it. We know you’ve been spending a lot of time together. And yes, they get your heart racing too because, when things are going right, there’s nothing quite like it. Now, before I inadvertently send someone off to confess an affair they think may have happened because they woke up at a neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party clutching a pair of party favors in a suggestive manner, let me put your fears to rest. In this case we’re talking about your writing Muse; that voice of inspiration that whispers sweet somethings that just have to be written down.

In the case of those party favors… Just don’t ever let it happen again.

Some of you might be asking:

What If I’m not in a serious relationship?
Or What if I’m single by choice because I AM serious about my writing?
Or Did my mother call you again?

Whether you are seeing someone on a regular basis or have temporarily stopped seeing anyone due to irregularity, being a writer means you are already in a serious relationship with your Muse. And like any relationship you want to see flourish, you need to do your part in providing opportunities to help it grow. If one or more of the following statements could be made by your Muse, it’s time to make some changes;

1) You never take me anywhere — As I’m sure E.L. James would agree, an integral part of any relationship is exploring new things. With your Muse, however, I’m talking about actually leaving your home/apartment/bonds and getting out to experience new sights, sounds, scents — things that can inspire you and your Muse. Or at the very least provide experiences you can file in a mental cache and refer to later. In addition, consider taking some photos and jotting down your impressions in case, like mine, your “mental cache” is more like Snap-Chat.

2) I need to be romanced a little first — It’s easy to fall into a pattern of groping at your Muse, getting what you want and then — at least in the case of many men — falling asleep at the keyboard. Much like having a lover, there is a certain amount of foreplay involved when “seducing” your Muse. Even if yours is slutty like mine, the seduction process — i.e., your writing preparation routine — is important. My writing foreplay involves making a cup of java that is best described as a liquid Coffee Nip, then putting on my headphones to listen to AC/DC, checking and responding to any comments on my blog and Twitter account, then getting to work on whatever I’m writing. If I can’t finish a piece I’m working on, I always leave off in the middle of a sentence. That way, when I come back to it, I can start right out with some momentum by finishing the thought I had. Your Muse will appreciate you coming back to finish what you started.

3) I think your Mom hates me — If your Muse tells you this, it’s a good indication you might be spending too much time together. If nothing else, it’s time to take a break and re-evaluate your relationship. Possibly with the help of professional.

Whether you’re in a love triangle or monogamous relationship with your Muse, it needs to be nurtured and appreciated.

It’s the little things you do on a daily basis to express your appreciation that will keep your relationship strong, supportive and continually inspired.

Oh, and the same applies to your Muse, too.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

31 thoughts on “Even a writer’s muse needs romance”

  1. I know this isn’t at all what you were talking about… but I’ve tried to write intimate scenes and they don’t turn out pretty… you’d think as many as I’ve read I would be able to do it with my eyes closed… so to speak… I think I just get embarrassed at the thought of someone I know reading my naughty thoughts… so awkward… it probably doesn’t help that my dad’s my muse… may sound weird but whenever I get stuck I call him up and ramble until something clicks… he’s allowed to talk a little too… I’ve tried talking to my husband but the whole eyes glazing over just doesn’t help me at all…

  2. My Muse has a bit of a naughty side. We started another WP site and were asking for guest posts, but it seems my Muse was more comfortable in that genre than others were. She is currently in therapy for sex addiction and hopes to be back by Spring!!

  3. Apparently, my Muse generally goes by the name of Stupidity and/or Hypocrisy (not mine, but in general). So often I think that it might be better if she’d limit the number of her visits.

  4. I curious – why would you characterize your muse as “slutty”? That’s hilarious, and I think you’ve been spending too much time with De Voss.

  5. Clever, clever, boy. This post is a keeper and always a huge (see what I did there?) help in my writing adventures.
    Apparently, my muse has been sleeping around…haven’t seen him since earlier in the week. Hopefully he didn’t meet up with your slutty muse–I’ve got a guest post to write!

    1. Lol! If your Muse is suddenly full of ideas and asking for pickles, we’ll know for sure!

      Hey, and congrats on the guest post! Where will it be at? And when? I have to confess I am way behind in my post reading— I have you last two waiting in my cue. I’m hoping to remedy that situation tomorrow 😉

      1. So far no requested pickles (phew!)
        Secondly, I hope you never feel obligated to read my posts. My friends and family will often shrink apologetically when they see me because they hadn’t read my “stuff.” I’ll tell you what I tell them. “Read it if you want, when you want and my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t :-)”

        Thanks for asking about my guest post, too. Christy J. at RunningonSober.com. is giving me a fantastic platform to share our message on bravery–first post comes on Tuesday (I think!). She just featured some of my photos on her weekend site WordsfortheWeekend.com (Walking Dead/End of Days theme) and feel very blessed that she asked me back as a monthly regular with my own series, “The Braveheart Chronicles.” Like you, she has let me tag along and learn the ropes all while building a special friendship along the way.
        As always, I appreciate your comments and replies–I can’t wait to see what you have waiting for us on Sochi!

        1. I really appreciate your honesty, Michelle 😉 I tell you what, I’ll agree to never feel obligated as long as you agree to know that when I stop in to read your posts, it’s never out of obligation. Deal? 😉

          I’m really excited for you about “the Braveheart Chronicles.”. I know it’s going to be great and I’m looking forward to reading. No obligation 😉

          Cheers to your new guest spot!

  6. Uh, oh! I dug my muse out & the poor thing was starving – she looks like Twiggy (never a good look & a horrible role model for all women to aspire to. Twiggy has a lot to answer for!) Thanks for reminding me I need to pay some attention to her!

      1. Isn’t it amazing what a few well chosen words can do? Twiggy will forever be linked to the “too skinny, gamin look” which has effected women’s styles ever since! Where are the days of Lana Turner, Jane Russell, Marilyn Munroe – they were sex symbols with their curves!

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