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Writing Motivation: Tuning In To the Muse

by Melissa Cripe


I’ve heard stories about writers who sit at a desk and light the same candle every time they write, an olfactory signal to increase their motivation. I’ve heard of people who have books of poetry and prose sitting right beside their workspace, volumes that change depending on their project, and they reach for those copies when they feel in a creative rut.

I don’t do any of those things.

Whenever I find myself low on creative energy, when I feel like the Muse has abandoned me and every good story has already been told, I turn to Taylor Swift.

When I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of words out there and the skill it takes to string them together well, I listen to a Taylor Swift song. Every Taylor Swift song is a microcosm of literary genius. Her lyrics feel like poetry, and when I’m sitting at my desk, fingers hovering in indecision over my keyboard, I think of songs like “champagne problems” or “hoax,” and I’m reminded what good art feels like to hear, to consume, to appreciate. It’s like sitting in the sun, feet dangling in a placid lake, and drinking something cold and fruity: the appreciation of knowing so many moving parts have come together to create a perfect moment.

I want to make good art. I want to write a line that is so startlingly beautiful people eat it up, the way I do Taylor Swift lyrics. She’s been writing like that for almost twenty years and has yet to run out of stories to tell or the words to do so. There are enough words out there for me, and the way I put them together will not be like Taylor Swift. They will be unique, and they will be mine. That’s enough to keep me writing.

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