The perils of the 3:15 muse wake-up call

If you’re a writer, it’s happened to you — you work on your book until late, you finally get into bed, and between 3-4:00 in the morning you wake up. Or to be more exact, your muse wakes you up, or that pessimistic voice in your head that you can control during daylight hours. And worst of all, sometimes your muse and that pessimistic voice are one and the same.

I’ve been getting both types of visits for the past few weeks. It’s normal for me when I’m finishing a book. With about seven chapters to go, my muse kicks me awake. I want to go back to sleep; she wants me to start on the revisions: wrap my head around the whole book, find the weaknesses, faulty spots — basically the good, the bad, and the ugly. And once you think that one book-related thought, she’s won. I know I won’t get back to sleep until an hour or less before my alarm goes off at 5:45. (Yep, I’m at my desk at my day job at 7:30.)

Thinking about book revisions at 3:15 is annoying, but it’s okay. It’s constructive. But when my muse has stayed at the “muse bar” until well after last call, and has had a few too many — that 3:15 visit isn’t from a my muse “the helpful writing partner”; it’s the Anti-Muse — cranky, hyper-critical, destructive. Those are the middle-of-the-night wake-up calls when my first thought is of every dark nook, cranny, and problem with the book — the beginning is wrong, the middle is a quagmire, and the ending. . .well, the ending simply sucks.

Don’t listen to the Anti-Muse. Yes, there may be (okay, probably are) some problems with the book, but they’re not nearly as bad as the Anti-Muse makes them out to be; in fact, they’re probably pretty minor. But at 3:15, my defenses aren’t up, and the Anti-Muse gets in. I’ve learned that what she tells me are just drunken ramblings, and when the sun comes up, rational thought returns.

4 Responses to “The perils of the 3:15 muse wake-up call”

  1. March 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Is this anything like when you wake up after an awesome dream that would make the most fantastic award winning story and you scribble everything down?

    Only to wake up the next morning to find something like ‘Goat, Chocolate, Turpentine.’

    Maybe our muses hang out at the same bar…

  2. 2 Terri-Lynne
    March 16, 2010 at 10:06 am

    At least you didn’t open the file and start hacking away with your drunken muse at the wheel. Or did you…because that would be really bad! 😉

  3. March 16, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Cathy– That’s happened to me, except not the crazy word association. When my muse wakes up in the middle of the night, I don’t get out of bed until I have something concrete. (Poems happen to me like that a lot.) That way, I don’t start writing unless there’s really some awesome to put down.

  4. March 16, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve made it a point NEVER to listen to the anti-muse (or the impending doom dreams she leaves behind).

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