Do you remember that old Albert Brooks movie, The Muse? Where a blocked screenwriter hires a professional muse to inspire him?
Sharon Stone shows up in the middle of the night wearing silk pajamas. At 3 am, she demands Chinese food.
She’s like a cat. She wants what she wants, mostly to curl up on a corner of the couch and get cozy.
After a some initial exasperation — after all, the writer has WORK to do — with a little care and kindness toward the Muse, Brooks’s character starts to write.
We could all use a muse.
So many students and clients show up to meetings wanting me to crack the whip, give them hard deadlines, get their asses writing.
But often I think what they need is a little time in their PJs.
Don’t get me wrong. Deadlines are useful. You wouldn’t get anything done without them.
But they can also shut down the muse or whatever you call the mysterious way new work appears.
If you become so focused on product, you have no space for discovery, no room to let things come from below or beyond or wherever those nuggets of wisdom descend from.
Also, it’s no fun beating yourself into writing.
I don’t recommend staying in your PJs every day, even if you have that luxury. I can tell you from experience, those lazy days have an expiration date.
Like the fruit sitting out on your kitchen counter, you start to get little soft and stinky.
But a long Saturday with your favorite comfy pants and your fuzzy socks can wake up the writer within.
Add a bowl of chicken soup, served up by your local Jewish mother (that would be me), and your muse is duly nourished.
Ideas pop. Writing flows. Something new starts to grow inside. Or something that’s been stuck has space to move.
Even if feel you don’t feel like you merit a day in your pjs, and especially if you’re feeling guilty about spending money on something as “frivolous” as a writing day, I guarantee your muse needs this.
This is medicine for the writer’s soul. This is the meaning of chicken soup.