The Muse as Shapeshifter

Sometimes the simplest ideas have the largest impacts.  Likewise, a single just-right question can change everything.

Many years ago a creativity guru asked me:  “Are you punishing yourself by not making the time you need for your art?”  This simple question had a huge impact on my practice and the amount of pleasure and joy I took in art making.  Looking back, it’s easy to see the huge, positive ramifications of that pivotal conversation.

My mentor’s question helped me reframe my relationship with myself as an Artist.  This idea of reframing is often at the center of conversations I have with my creativity coaching clients.  One common source of creative frustration in artists of all kinds is with inspiration and creative flow.  It goes like this:  “The Muse is here and all is well – Huzzah!” Followed not long after by:  “The Muse is gone and everything sucks.  Everything. Sucks.”

Muse as Shapeshifter

The questions I like to ask to start a conversation about the Muse are another example of how simple can be powerful:

  1. What if – instead of being capricious and often absent – your Muse were always with you but always changing?
  2. What if she were a shapeshifter?
  3. Who was she today?
    • A bratty four-year-old – demanding that you drop everything and play with her when you have dinner to cook?
    • A wise old woman asking you to take a walk in the park when you really want to catch up on Outlander episodes?
    • Did she have magnificent dreadlocks and a mysterious smile?  Did you stop to talk to her?
    • Was she a crow cawing loudly from the tree outside your home?  What message did she bring?

Next time you’re feeling abandoned by your Muse, give the following exercise a try.

  1. Use the first question from above and pretend for a moment that your Muse is always with you and that she is never absent.
  2. Pretend that she wants your attention and that she needs you to recognize her as she changes form.  In return for your attention and recognition, know that she will gift you with inspiration and creative energy.
  3. Go for a 15 minute walk and let the natural world and the people you encounter be signs from you Muse.  The neighbor boy.  The purple flower.  The running squirrel.  The glowing moon.  Each has a message for you.  Relax and let your Muse (and the inspiration she has to offer) find you.
Science has proven that walking is a natural way to boost creativity.  When you combine walking with the extended metaphor of a scavenger hunt for messages from your Muse, it’s my hope that you will quickly discover the creative magic you need to get back to the work you love.

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”

– William Shakespeare

Melinda Eliza Sabo is a an Artist, Creativity Coach, and Lecturer who believes that life should be an artistic journey:  truly well-seen and well-lived.  Visit for more inspiration.  This article was originally published in the April 2015 edition of Wild Sister Magazine.

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