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Writing Inspiration: Trusting Your Muse

Your Writing Coach
Your Writing Coach

I’ve committed this week to walking every day, part of my writing inspiration and wellbeing. In the northeast US that’s a pretty big commitment in February–especially for someone who traces her ancestors back to the dessert.

What could be better inspiration for a writer than walking in nature, though? And my walk, ultimately, brought me powerful metaphors for the writing path.

I walked a leave-strewn path to Narragansett Bay where I spotted harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks above the water line. I picked up a few shells–pearly wampum and a perfect whelk. I took a moment to be still and watch the sun dance on the near-still water.

The Seals at Rome Point

As I neared the seals, I saw someone duck into a different path, one I’d taken years ago. Hmmm. Should I?  I knew there were decision points on that path, and no memory of how I would choose the right path at those points.

But an inner prompting told me to trust. Take the path. I knew I’d likely end up lost, but I trusted that inner guidance. Several times along the way, I questioned the wisdom, but I knew I could turn back if I got truly lost in moving forward.


Trusting Intuition for Inspiration

seals: nature as inspirationHmmm. What’s that path there? Lots of leaves. Probably not as well traveled. I’ll stay on this path. How about the next one? Pretty leafy, as well.

I don’t remember these ponds here. Uh oh. This part looks foreign. And this foundation–some old building or mill? No. I’ve never been on this path. Not in this lifetime.

But my inner guidance told me to continue. I did. Eventually, I could hear the traffic of Old Boston Neck Road. And I found my way back to the wide main path, just before the parking lot.

How Writing Takes Us on New Paths

Writing is like that. Our inner voice, our muse, often asks us to step out in faith and take a new path. My well-worn path is book proposals and self-help books. But my inner prompting has asked me to write a children’s book. I’ve been mucking around and losing my way on this new path.

It went from picture book to early readers and now I’m thinking it may be a middle grade novel. Which means completely rewriting it again. And it feels so uncomfortable. I’ve even hired my share of editors to help me with this new genre, but I’m still lost. And it seems I’ll need to continue to listen for my muse, look for its writing inspiration to tell me where to step next.

How about you? Are you being asked to step into an unfamiliar path in your writing? Are you willing to trust your muse? Trust that you can do it? Have you taken a step? Or are you waiting for a sign? Share your stories, inspiration (and questions) here!

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Joyce Rothman says

    Lisa, I’m so happy that you’re listening to that voice inside and sharing how difficult it actually is. Your walk today seemed like a great sign to keep listening. Changing course is hard and I just read something that if you haven’t read yet, might help now. In Annie Dillard’s, “The Writing Life”, she talks about how the beginning writing changes and how it should. If I can quote her – “It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away.
    A Painting covers its tracks. Painters work from the ground up. The latest version of a painting overlays earlier versions, and obliterates them. Writers, on the other hand, work from left to right. The discardable chapters are on the left. The latest version of a literary work begins somewhere in the work’s middle, and hardens toward the end. The earlier version remains lumpishly on the left; the work’s beginning greets the reader with the wrong hand. In those early pages and chapters anyone may find bold leaps to newhere, read the brave beginnings of dropped themes, hear a tone since abandoned, discover blind alleys, track red herrings, and laboriously learn a setting now false.” pg 5.

    I finished the book while at a doctor’s appt and went right back to the beginning. There is so much in there for me to discover. I’m learning that writing is really a labor of love and the labor can last an incredibly long period of time. So now I know, I’m ok – I’m right on schedule!

    I love your writing.

  2. Terri Stark says

    Congratulations on stepping onto a new path Lisa! When we open our heart to a new direction, our vision and perceptions expand beyond what we have previously known. Sometimes – our feet get us there!

  3. Diane Petrella says

    Lovely post, Lisa!

    Last year I felt stuck on the book proposal I thought I was supposed to write. After needlessly forcing myself to stay with something that was draining my energy, I finally gave up on the idea. Then…a few months later the Universe gave me a writing opportunity that has opened up a whole new path.

    You’re right. Trust & listen.

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