The Myth of the Muse | Stop validating procrastination

When Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, it is believed that he went on a swim, bought some moussaka and fed it to a giant woman after she whispered a secret that inspired the two epics. We have no way of confirming this story but there is a lesson to be learned here. Inspiration can come from anywhere, be it in a giant’s mouth or anywhere but it doesn’t come to you. You go to it.

This article doesn’t apply to the disciplined artist that gets shit done on time, eats his/her veggies and somehow finds the energy not to complain about how difficult art is. If that sounds like you, then you are in a minority. Again, we can’t confirm this, but it is believed that 9/10 artists procrastinate. Not the good kind of procrastination where you need to really think things through and finally reach a structured idea. No, we’re talking about the kind that involves you sharing cat videos on Facebook to see if your muse “would friend you”.

Still reading? interesting. The muse is often misunderstood. Unlike the fables of old, she isn’t (or he) this beautiful half-naked person carved out by God himself for the sole purpose of getting an artist off his/her ass to work on a project he/she has been shelving for months and she just appears to you. No, the process of finding your muse, is like fishing with your bare hands. You have to roll up your sleeves (if you’re not wearing a sweater in this cold, you must be brave) and dunk your hands in the water to find it. It won’t magically fall into your hands.

When you wait for your muse to fall into your hands, you are not being productive, you aren’t searching for inspiration, you are not creating the “perfect moment”. All you are doing is plain old procrastination. Which is a disease that forces artists to say shit like “My muse hasn’t hit yet” “this Call of Duty session is part of my process”, “The pillow is blue… it’s all wrong now” “aap bakavaas baat kar rahe hain” … you get the point.

Part of the creative process, that is often misunderstood is the inspiration. Very rarely, it just happens but oftentimes, you have to work hard at getting inspired. It isn’t a fancy process where it is a montage with fancy disco music (no it’s not dead) playing in the background. No, it’s dull, it’s boring and ultimately feels like a waste of time. It’s not pretty, the process is riddled with self-doubt, false starts and a whole lot of failure. However, it forces you to know the difference between what inspires you and what interests you. Discover new ways of looking at things and understand where inspiration comes from.

Unless you’re a prodigy or you’re lying to yourself. Don’t worry it’s part of the process. We all do it.

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