February 10

In Greek mythology, the nine Muses (responsible for inspiration) were the offspring of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. So creativity is the result of applying energy/power to memory. Very fitting as this is, in fact, the very definition of creating! When we make things, we apply concerted effort to connect memories (dots) in our minds and forge new patterns that solve problems.

In his bookDaily Rituals, author Mason Currey described the work pattern of composer George Gershwin. “He was dismissive of inspiration, saying that if he waited for the muse he would compose at most three songs a year. It was better to work every day. ‘Like the pugilist,’ Gershwin said, ‘the songwriter must always keep in training.’”

Notice that nowhere in that description is the phrase “wait around for the muse to strike.” The muse “appears” in the midst of the exertion of effort. In his advice to writers, Jack London once quipped, “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it. Set yourself a ‘stint,’ and see that you do that ‘stint’ each day; you will have more words to your credit at the end of the year.”

Don’t wait for the muse. You will discover her in the midst of your work.

What steady, regular stint do you need to dedicate yourself to so that you are making progress on your work?

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