First I have to confess that this post is a little bit of a cheat because this was a task set by our tutor to help start off the creative process in our writing. I wanted to share it though, because it was a lot of fun to do, and I can see it as a useful tool when inspiration doesn't come easily.
The task - choose a colour, either one you love or that you never wear. Choose a piece of music that matches the colour in your mind. Sit in isolation with your eyes closed and the music playing. Picture the colour in your head. Then free write, without correcting, without grammar, whatever comes into your mind, as fast as you can.
I choose green - emerald green to be specific, though I don't think the exact shade was required! And my piece of music was the theme from Harry's Game by Clannad - the reasoning behind that may become apparent later on.
I felt a little silly sitting there and thinking green thoughts, but then I picked up my pen and scribbled furiously for the requisite minimum of five minutes, and a little beyond. This is what I came up with.
Emerald green makes me think of velvet, soft and warm. The medieval tunic I bought with a long pixie hood, laced up the front with black cord and through little brass rings, like something out of a book by Tolkien - elves and magic.
Walking through deep, dark pine woods. Needles all glossy green, the dead brown ones crunching slightly under my feet. Soothing silence and the smell of resin. The smell of damp. Black soil beneath the needles as I dig them up with the toe of my boot.
Thick grass shaking in the wind on the hillside in Ireland. (Here the association to Clannad leapt to mind - Irish!) A long green slope down the the cliff's edge before it falls into the sea. Even the water looks green - beautiful blue-grey-green under a cloudy sky.
A circle of stones on the Isle of Arran.Three huge stark slabs of slate or something, 10, 12 feet tall with long brown streaks down them like rust. Grassy slopes leading up to them and then down the other side, open moorland.
Tiny emeralds in a ring my mum wore, one of them missing, replaced by another paler stone.
Lime cordial, so hard to find now. Am I the only person in the world who drinks it?
Peppermint cordial. Tastes like toothpaste, ug! But looks so pretty in the bottle, clear emerald green.
The task itself is not that far from the methods I use when I get stuck - music and images - but having it set as a specific exercise with rules seemed to work far better, and is something that I will use again. I also found myself writing the outline to my fourth book shortly afterwards - although there's nothing 'green' about it, clearly my muse had found the task inspiring!
So do you have any special methods for inspiring your muse? Would you share them, or are they your secret? :)