Muse Swap–It Starts Here

My muse as part of my landscape, in a kind and generous moment.

My muse is yammering today. She doesn’t like how much white space I leave on a page. She kicked my favorite Arches Text Wove off the table and demanded a new paper. For a second, I thought it was my gremlin (also known as Lizard Brain), but it is not. My muse is quite encouraging and creative, she just won’t let me settle down and create. She keeps tossing ideas into my mind and then not finishing them. I find it annoying.

So I did what I normally do when I get distracted, I jumped into the interwebs and noticed that other people are having trouble with their muses as well. Well, what bothers some people is another person’s dream.

I wanted to swap my muse, but I did NOT want to start a complicated swap that involves mailing stuff to other people. I’m pretty terrible at that. But how about this–If you want to swap your muse, post a comment to this post by midnight West Coast Time July 12, 2010–close enough to the new moon for this month. You just post what your muse is doing that annoys you. If you don’t do it now, you won’t do it.

On the 14th, I’ll assign you a randomly swapped muse. You’ll play, work, listen, and live with someone else’s muse for a while. See what happens.

On the full moon, July 26 (or earlier), tell me what happened with your muse swap. You’ll do this via email to Quinn.Classes[at] Did your new muse inspire you? Kvetch? Force you to eat chocolate? We want to know.  Your answer can be a video,  a poem, a story, a drawing–anything at all creative. I’ll compile them and report back by the 29th as a blog post.  I’ll post what I can here (with full credit, of course).  If there is overwhelming response, I’ll create a Flickr set. If there is a long, complicated story, you can post the result on your blog or website, and simply send me a link and permission to use the image.

Encourage others. Let’s swap some muses!

UPDATE: 7/15/10: Muses have been swapped. Each person received a short description of the swapped muse and instructions. I’ll be waiting for the exciting report of what happened. . .let me know by July 27, 2010.

Update: 7/31/10: You can read about the muse-swap results.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and raw-art-journaler who is writing a book to be published by North Light Books in June of 2011.

34 thoughts on “Muse Swap–It Starts Here

  1. I think I missed the deadline for the muse experiment result. I learned something valuable in this muse swap and it is this: The fault is mine and I can no longer blame my muse. Sadly. One more excuse shot to hell.

    So here’s my post-muse swap situation:

    Where juices flowed
    they now have slowed
    No energy abounding
    All creativity
    deserted me
    with ne’er a peep
    or soundling.

  2. Sorry I missed this! Maybe you will do it another time? My muse is becoming more cooperative. It helped to study Martha Beck’s blog on her “essential self.” She talks to her first before undertaking creative or any projects and they work out a deal. I have been using a timer too, I am using one now and have 5 minutes and 12 seconds left to look at e-mails! and it really helps me. If I don’t want to get started and set the timer for 15 minutes, only 15 minutes doesn’t seem like that much, then I can jump start the process and most often want more.

    My muse is of the variety that many described of so many ideas all the time, until I am overwhelmed. Giving myself the sort of structure I described really helps.


    • I’ll do the Muse swap again sometime. Something different will be added, just for fun. I might even do it as an online journaling class. So no worries, Erika, there is always more!

  3. Oh my goodness. It looks more like a huge muse carnival than a swap.

    You fed ALL those muses, and they ALL shut up? Wow! Sounds like you’re already bribing them, trying to get on their good sides. Not sure that will work…though maybe if you took them all out for ice cream — in the desert heat! Hee hee hee!

    (My muse made me write this!)

  4. Yes. I would add that the muse is also spiritual, the indescribable essence that slips into your consciousness when you sit at the keyboard, or drafting board, and just listen. It can be gentle or very insistent. It can drive you to write or do things you would never have thought of.

  5. Okay, so I waited too long to jump in… but thought I’d jump in anyway in case there are other stragglers who would like to swap their muse. Mine doesn’t have a lot of mileage… she sure doesn’t do much! I get ideas galore almost every day, but actually creating something is another story and huge struggle! So, Quinn, I’m thinking that yours and mine might be a great swap! Mine doesn’t want to play and yours is wanting to play too much!

  6. This is really interesting, but I’m kind of struggling to understand it. As everybody probably knows, I am not an artist (don’t even play one on TV), and the idea of a muse — as someone you can interact with is new to me. How do you get a muse? Or is that even the right kind of question?

    What fascinates me is that I wonder if it’s the answer to the biggest questions I have about artists: where do the ideas come from? How did you know you wanted to do that? What is it that makes some art have life and personality? That is, even I can look at one picture and say “that is a competent representation of an bowl of fruit” while if you look at another picture of the same thing you can just about taste the fruit — but I don’t really understand where that difference comes from. Does it have something to do with muses?

    • The muse in the classical sense is what brings inspiration. For most of us, the muse is a cross between inspiration and the lizard brain nag that sends doubt. Of course, creative insecurity is good, it makes you try harder, too much is destructive. Maybe it’s the part of the brain that manages the balance. It’s the part of the brain that allows artists to love their work, knowing that it is meaningful to us, while also knowing we don’t have to sell it to justify it. And in some cases, it is the part of our soul that speaks to us when we look at art, that allows us to connect to art in a deep, unspoken way. You have a muse, Pete, I just suspect she (or he) is an engineer. You can explain things I don’t get with ease and make me feel smart instead of stupid. And that is a gift. So my idea is that you have a muse who inspires you, but perhaps to a different thing than my muse inspires me.

  7. My muse tries to be everywhere, tasting everything and seeing everything, all the time.
    So my muse says… blog? Well we could have a blog about or we could have a blog about or we could have a blog about
    But because you are not ready, just post to them, sharpen a lot of pencils, in fact, buy some more pencils, but for gods’ sake don’t go public with them. Because,
    If I have the least ambivalence, my muse can throw a hook shaped anchor down the rabbit hole, and then tickle me after deadlines to say “Neener Neener, you’re late. Now aren’t you special? Not!”
    I’m late for this opportunity, but think I am about as ready as I am going to me.
    Let me know the next time the gate to the pool opens up.
    Wah, wah.

    • Yeah, Nick, nice try. Your response got hung up in the spam filter because of the links, but I went down into the filter, and your muse was telling me I was too late and she went “Neener neener.” My muse was with me, and she slung your muse over her shoulder, dragged her back to my blog, and we’re gonna swap her with someone. I’ve started sorting them out, but such a racket! So I fed ’em lunch. It kept most of them quiet.

  8. Oh, my fickle muse… I need to straighten and organize my work space so that I can tackle some new projects, but nooo – she won’t allow it. She would rather I sit at the computer all day (and half the night), working on perfecting my mad Photoshop skills. Then she distracts me by drawing my attention to the corner, where the messy art table resides. When I make noises again about clearing the art space, she decides I need to write. When I open a fresh page, I catch her staring out the window and daydreaming. The page looks something like this:

    “nnnnkltttttt phhhhlttttttt oo”

    When it’s time to make lunch or dinner, what’s this? She tickles my brain with a new thought that I cannot possibly just drop for something as mundane as feeding the family. The very idea.

    Recently, she went on a sea-side holiday and left me behind, high and dry. Hmph. She’d better at least bring back some salt water taffy.

    A muse swap sounds intriguing…. is this anything like Wife Swap?

  9. My muse is just being lazy. She needs someone who can kick her into gear a bit. I think she might even be considering full retirement. I am sure if she finds the right person, they can work this out. Our relationship has just gone on for too long and we can no longer work it out!

  10. i want to swap muses too, Quinn. Mine keeps me in constant work motion and doesn’t let up for me to work-out or go back to planning meals for the week. My muse has chained me to my computer. She leads me there even before I’ve had my coffee in the morning and only lets me stray when I am meeting a client or teaching a class. She wants me to only eat hummus and other quick-fix foods. Quinn, please find a muse for me that will quiet this obsessive work horse and let me find more interesting things to eat!

  11. My muse is similar to j.r.’s except she prefers olive tapenade and bruchetta toppings. She insists we go to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning and spend hours, walking and breakfasting with friends and then buying more stuff to feed her craving. She knows that my most productive time is the morning but each day she consumes it and then at around 4pm, when I’m dead to the world, she says “OK Now you can begin.” I’ll happily try someone else’s muse … but perhaps j.r.’s and mine are too similar? I’ll leave it to your judgement. At least we’d get different food.

  12. My muse keeps thinking that if I just moved my computer desk and digital equipment to another room and replaced the desk with my artwork supplies which will be closer to where I spend most of my time (my living room), then I’ll be able to reall hear her and actually start working/playing with my artwork again. I keep telling her it costs too much money to get the internet hookup moved and then get the handyman over to move the desk and other equipment. I keep telling her to be a little more quiet with her suggestions but she doesn’t stop. I’m afraid if I listen to her and do what she says, I still won’t be making any artwork or that I’ll enjoy making artwork. Help, maybe someone else’s muse can be a bit kinder.

  13. My muse has been gone for so long that I had to clean my studio in hopes of finding her. Still missing. Would love to trade her, just so she can see how much she is missed.

  14. My muse is avoiding anything deep like the plague. She’s unwilling to do anything except flowers and glitter and butterflies. I want to delve into my soul, do some real digging. She wants to doodle daisies. Whenever I sit down to do some soul work, she throws a fit. And then she throws glitter all over the pages that were meant to be serious.

    *le sigh*

  15. My muse just wants to eat cherries and sleep late. She knows I want to write something by the end of the month and does she care? She does not. She is even trying to stop me from writing this with her fretting and worrying. She’s turned into a real pain. I’ll try another muse happily. See how she likes that!

  16. I want to swap muses.

    My muse won’t let me do anything but think. She won’t let me talk to my friends. She won’t let me talk to myself. She will let me make personalized cards for people and make designs with flowers in gardens. I think she’s afraid, but she won’t say of what. My intuition has asthma.

  17. I actually acted as someone else’s muse a few days ago! For the first time, I posted some pics of works in progress, including a little pile of artifacts I’d made. A good friend, a jewelry artist, saw the artifacts–and fell in love with one! She asked if she could have one to work with–and I said yes. A first for both of us…. She said she’d been in the doldrums with her work lately, but she was so excited when she saw that piece. “It’s obviously your work, but it’s not like your signature work,” she explained. “And it just spoke to me.”
    I can’t wait to see what she does with it!

  18. It seems my muse has the giggles. She hasn’t been taking things very seriously these past few days and I keep telling her I have lots of things that need to be done. She doesn’t seem to be a bit fazed by my pronouncements! She just laughs and laughs and laughs. Seems my muse thinks she’s at a comedy show these days instead of an art studio. Hee hee! (She’s even got ME laughing!)

  19. My muse must have ADD. She keeps signing me up for all these yahoo group art trades (where yes, I must mail things to people) and I have to scurry around after her meeting the commitments. I keep insisting trades need to be limited so that I can work on bigger pieces, but she says I need deadlines to actually accomplish/ complete projects and that small complete projects are better than large incomplete ones.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.