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"Off the Cuff": How to Write When Your Muse Has Taken a Break

Updated on November 2, 2022
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John loves to read, especially crime, fantasy, psychological thriller, and sci-fi novels. He is interested in the paranormal and unexplained

The pomegranate bushes are flowering.
The pomegranate bushes are flowering. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
African daisies flowering profuselyIris buds ready to bloomEven the bromeliads are in flower
African daisies flowering profusely
African daisies flowering profusely | Source
Iris buds ready to bloom
Iris buds ready to bloom | Source
Even the bromeliads are in flower
Even the bromeliads are in flower | Source

Writing Isn't Everything: Look for the Positives.

I am sitting here with my lap top on the table near our front door and staring out the window. I had been here for about an hour on and off before I managed to even come up with a title for this hub and manage to type the first word.

That's no big deal really as the view through the window and across our front garden is great. Spring is here and we have had recent rain, all plants are thriving and beginning to bud and flower. I spent a few hours in the garden yesterday weeding and planting new seeds (capsicum/sweet peppers) and cuttings of what is called the "cancer tree"(don't know the botanical name sorry). It is said that if you eat two leaves off it everyday it will keep you cancer free. Oh, and I also planted out some silver beet and spinach from pots into the garden.

I counted six kangaroos and wallabies grazing on the new green grass shoots just the other side of the garden while I have been sitting here contemplating what to write. I considered making this the next addition of "The Diary of a Cackleberry Farmer" and sitting on it for a few more weeks but decided against that and just make it a stand alone essay.

The view from the front window while sitting at my lap top. One wallaby can be seen where minutes ago the were a total of six roos and wallabies.
The view from the front window while sitting at my lap top. One wallaby can be seen where minutes ago the were a total of six roos and wallabies. | Source

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

— ― Ernest Hemingway

My Muse Took a Hike

I have been managing to churn out about one article per week which is OK, and add another if a fellow hubber issues a challenge (which I am unable to resist). However, I always yearn to write more. I wouldn't say I get writer's block but I do have occasions like now where I don't know where my inspiration is going to come from. When this happens I usually hear a song or some news story or conversation that may spark an idea. This week I am sick of waiting for that inspiration and decided to take the bull by the horns and just write something off the cuff.

Fellow writer and friend Missy Smith wrote a wonderful poetry hub "A Poetic Notion" recently with a similar theme, so it may seem like I am stealing her idea but as I said in the comment on her article, I had been considering writing something very random and she just beat me to it. I thank her for encouraging me to go ahead and write this anyway. Also, I often refer to my wife Kathy as 'my muse' and she has gone away to Darwin for six weeks to help out my son Trent, his wife Cheenee, and our grandson Taidan for the birth of their second baby. In fact, I just received word this morning (Oct 2nd 2015) that our new grandson Cyrus Jax Xavier Hansen (how original is that name?) has come into the world.

Baby Boy Cyrus
Baby Boy Cyrus | Source

A Poem for Cyrus

Dear little boy

You were born today,

Cyrus Jax,

Not Billy Ray.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Your Mum and Dad

Are oh so proud,

While Pa John and Granny

Are on a cloud.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A big new world

You've come into,

So much to experience,

To see and to do.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

You won't do much

For a month or two,

Just drink your milk

And whoopsy doo.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

But soon you'll grow

And be aware,

For the first few years

There will be no cares.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

You'll feel the love

From far and wide.

Your big bro Taidan

Will be your guide.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

You'll never want,

Or go without.

You are so special

Without a doubt.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

So remember this date

October one,

A special day

For a second son..

Putting Pen to Paper, or Finger to the Keyboard.

Well by the time I finish writing this sentence I will have written around 480 words already. Not bad for starting to write this essay with no plan or subject in mind other than writing randomly. It proves the point that you can always sit down and write something, inspiration or not. You just have to put your finger to the keyboard or pen to paper and start to write.

What you churn out may be a heap of rubbish that ends up in the trash can (either real or on your virtual desk top), and then again it may turn into the best original piece of writing you have ever done. You never know! It is better to write something, anything, than nothing at all. That sounds like a quote about love doesn't it?

“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

— ― Mark Twain
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My usual desk (yes it is a donut came with the antique chair and is too comfortable to get rid of :)Cyrus being cuddled by proud Granny Kathy and big brother Taidan. Little Miss Muffet
My usual desk (yes it is a donut came with the antique chair and is too comfortable to get rid of :)
My usual desk (yes it is a donut came with the antique chair and is too comfortable to get rid of :) | Source
Cyrus being cuddled by proud Granny Kathy and big brother Taidan.
Cyrus being cuddled by proud Granny Kathy and big brother Taidan. | Source
Little Miss Muffet
Little Miss Muffet | Source

What is Freedom?

Have you ever stopped to think about what true freedom is in writing? I mean, writing, along with other arts like painting, drawing, dance, sculpture etc. is an ultimate form of expression. If you just write to express your thoughts and for your own pleasure, or in the form of a journal or diary, you can write anything you wish without worrying about the opinions of others, spelling, grammar and punctuation. This is true freedom of writing.

When you start to take writing seriously and put your words out there for others to see you lose some of that freedom. Especially if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, or even make it your career. When you begin to write online, for magazines, publications, and even newspapers you have to exercise restraint and control. You need to use tools like spell check, write drafts and check and recheck your work before publishing it.

If you don't do this your work will not be published, or if it is you will probably attract a barrage of criticism as to the quality of your writing. Freedom of expression is still there, but there are now constraints put on it. There are lots of tools out there to help make writing easier and more polished but in using them some of the purity and spontaneity are lost.

My friend Missy suggested after reading my "Ode to Miss Muffet" poem (a parody on the ability of spell check to pick up on incorrectly used words) that I try writing a random poem totally without the use of spell check and without correcting any errors myself and believe me, I am tempted. The trouble with that for me is that some of the keys on my keyboard tend to stick, especially the 's' and 'l' keys for some reason, which results in some words missing those letters. or in the case of "s" being typed twice.

The second problem is the new "editbot' that has been introduced at Hub Pages. If I attempted to write such a poem my article would be covered in "editbot" corrections. So Missy, thanks for the suggestion but unfortunately I can't really do that. I will do a rough draft on paper though just for my record. You are welcome to come to check it out :)

  • I just wrote the "Poem for Cyrus" without a rough draft and ignoring spell check Missy, but I think it turned out OK. I just added a couple of words to the spell-check dictionary.

Rapid Creek, Darwin NT, Australia
Rapid Creek, Darwin NT, Australia | Source

Cracking 1000 Words

I just checked the word count on this piece and I am already over 1000, so I seem to be on a roll. Once I start writing some strange supernatural force takes over and I just can't stop...well, I can, but I have to actually force myself.

Writing randomly like this is quite invigorating and really so much fun. Not having to research the information, spend hours searching for suitable images and photos online etc. It certainly is my preferred form of writing.

The fact that this essay may be of some help to others in how they approach writing is a bonus but it wasn't really the original aim. That being said I like everything I write to have some value or message, even if it doesn't have rhyme or reason (I may have to change that statement though if I decide to add a poem to this. Then again it could be free verse and not rhyme.)

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”

— ― Toni Morrison

When writing hubs, do you...?

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Ticking All the Boxes

My sights are now on the goal of writing 1250 words and I am on the downhill run with less than eighty to go. My eye is on the finish line, but then nothing says I have to stop there does it? If I want I can write 2000 or 3000 words. Who's going to stop me? Wow, the adrenalin rush! It's like riding a bike downhill at breakneck speed, the wind rushing through your hair, and then realizing you have no brakes! Well, bring it on. (1252 and counting)

Now the question is, do I try to tick all the other boxes for photos, videos, polls etc...hmm. I usually decide to prostitute myself and include these just to try and make my hubs "evergreen" and more attractive. If you are reading this you will already know what I decided. I will at least include a few pics I have taken myself, but I haven't decided on the rest yet.

I often add all the bells and whistles to my poetry pieces in particular to bring them closer to HubPages preferred standard, but some other poets have made me question this, saying that good poetry should be able to stand on its own merits. They do have a point and it's a choice we poets all have to make as individuals.. "To bow or not to bow, that is the question."

Here's a random video, but I like the song.

Finally, If You Are Stuck for Words

I'd like to finish up with a little advice if all else fails and you are still stuck for words:

Step away from your computer. It doesn't matter what time of day or night it is. Just walk outside, take a deep breath of air (unless you live in Beijing, Mexico City etc where that may be harmful), and experience nature, or street life if you live in the inner city. Or you could even try skydiving like my son :)

Observe everything around you, the stars, landscape, streetlights, traffic, people etc. Give it a good half hour, then walk back inside and return to your computer. I am sure you will feel differently and there is a good chance you will suddenly be inspired to write something, and guess what? I can't wait to read it, whatever it may be. (total word count: 1930)

What true freedom looks like. My son Jared during a recent tandem sky dive for his birthday.
What true freedom looks like. My son Jared during a recent tandem sky dive for his birthday. | Source

© 2015 John Hansen


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