Daily Archives: February 14, 2013

Invocation of the Muses

Thalia Took’s Sketch of 9 Greek Muses

One of Steven Pressfield’s main topics of focus in The War of Art is the fight against what he calls Resistance — the unrelenting struggle a writer faces to NOT write. Every day a writer has to push forward and make the writing happen. You just can’t wait for inspiration, at least not if you’re going to write professionally.

I’ve found that The War of Art is one of the most useful writing books I’ve ever read because of its description of and advice about  waging the battle against Resistance (note the capital R — you must respect the enemy). To help me do battle, one of my tactics is to recognize that when you sit down to write you’re entering a different kind of mental state. I tell writing students that just as a professional athlete would not simply arrive at the track field and start sprinting, a writer will be poorly served to jump into the seat and immediately start typing.

It’s my thought that you have to acknowledge that change, that transition from one mental state (where you’re worrying about groceries and laundry or that news article) to another where the story is all, in order to do good work.

On the first page of The War of Art, Pressfield describes what he does each day to prepare to write so that he can be in the proper frame. Amongst several other personal rituals, Pressfield says a prayer. His is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey, translated by T.E. Lawrence (that’s Lawrence of Arabia, incidentally).

I’ve never been much of a praying man myself, but I liked the sound of this, so I looked up the prayer, which I had read as a school boy and probably blipped over: