Sometimes, your Muse needs to be romanced

image Today, we’re going to 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 reserves for freshly-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 this week, 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 (Did I mention 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. This has been an excerpt from his upcoming book, Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing: Pearls of Wisdom from 16 Years as a Shucking Columnist. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, 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...

39 thoughts on “Sometimes, your Muse needs to be romanced”

  1. NAILED IT. 🙂

    Hilarious post, but quite accurate! Romancing the Muse….I see a movie in the future. haha
    The muse is a fickle beast. Don’t I know it. OY.

    1. Hahaha! Glad you liked it, Beth. Although, I’m not sure Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are up for that sequel. Neither are the rest of us, actually.

  2. I’ve been romancing my muse for awhile now, but if the muse doesn’t become a little more cooperative, I think I may have to divorce my muse and replace it [him? her? maybe that’s the problem – I don’t know the gender] with wine.

    1. Ha! I hear you. Occasionally you need to have some time apart. Possibly about three glasses of wine’s worth of time apart. Then it won’t matter what gender it is.

  3. Ned, a true gentleman would never discuss the most intimate details of his relationship with his Muse. Especially if this relationship somehow involves party favors.

  4. Your suggestion to “leave off in the middle of a sentence” really is a…

  5. I am in a torrid love affair with my muse (every day life) and my inner editor (he’s an asshole). One tells me I’m awesome and destined for great things (kiss ass) while the other sneers and tells me I’m a moron. Some days, I just can’t win.

    Thankfully, my muse got a taste of the merlot I was drinking last night and allowed me to write something that even I was happy with. I’ll take it! Now, about going somewhere new. Hmm. Might have to do that and soon. I’ve been cranky lately.

    1. You need both in your life, and Merlot will help stirke a balance 😉 I’ve got you post in my cue, by the way, and am looking forward to reading it! Cheers, Kim!

  6. Well, I guess I’m just going to have to get some elephant coffee, some fresh bread and gym shorts and take a walk in my neighbourhood for inspiration. I hope I don’t get lost or picked up by animal control for talking to my puce purse. Er … puce muse. Murse Muse??? 🙂

  7. I fear I have been neglecting my muse of late; I shall definitely follow your advice and rekindle the magic.
    Also, I don’t think I could write actual romance scenes. I’d probably giggle all the way through, and it would sound like a bad screenplay. The closest I’ve ever gotten was when one of my short story characters got married. Then she got pregnant ate a time-traveling apricot, and skipped forward nine months. Just like real life.

  8. Guess I have much, much work to do. I’ve been guilty of neglecting my muse, and yeah, my story’s dried up. Though I heard her again today on the radio…she’s there somewhere, sparkling.

      1. Whoa that could be taking things a little far…I’d have to ask her permission first, methinks. And the ol BlogWife might get a teensy bit jealous…

        Can I settle for just a really nice literary date?

          1. Yeah well I shall feel free to use artistic licence then. I’m not sure how my muse would feel if I suddenly came onto her. Though she did ask if she could keep me forever in her purse the other day, so there’s that…

  9. A very a-muse-ing post. Bordering on titillating.

    I have an urge to light some candles and slip into a bubble bath with my muse.

    Karl Urban. *fans herself*

  10. This post is still one of my favorites. My muse and I have been together about 18 months and suddenly our relationship has become a bit stressful. He said, “it’s not you, it’s me” and asking for space.
    So, to keep some excitement in our romance, I’ve changed my writing routine and he seems to be cautiously responding with experimentation: poetry, fiction, and novel writing. In fact, you may notice a quieter presence these days. It’s because we are celebrating some alone time – though, quite different than what you are experiencing in a house sans teenagers 😉
    As always, thanks for all that you do, Ned!

    1. There’s nothing wrong with introducing some new moves to your Muse to break up the routine. As long as no one gets hurt.

      By the way, I’m excited to hear you’re branching out with your writing and trying some different things. It’s like learning new recipes for making your favorite dish of lasagna; finding new ways to create the same dish eventually leads to an interpretation all your own — which is what writers do 😉

      1. “As long as nobody gets hurt”
        Ummmm…the hubs had a little chainsaw accident a couple of weeks ago. There’s a nice picture of the stitches on my latest post if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂
        I also ended up with a black eye a few days later – it seems that breaking up the routine is resulting in more injury AND keeping life interesting!!

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