I Need A Muse
Release Date:March 10, 2010
Summary:A tool for helping writers overcome their stale ideas by creating characters and attributes for them. Unfortunately, it doesn't make you a writer.
Here’s an interesting app I came across recently, one that provides a service I have yet to find elsewhere in the App Store: I Need A Muse. The developer, Gautch, had the objective in mind to incite creativity for the writer, to spur his imagination when it came to creating characters. The app covers a character’s usual, or essential attributes in a piece of fiction – things like name, gender, career, and location, tossed in with a single adjective like “loveable” or “strong-willed” for good measure. Simply by selecting one of these characteristics in the menu, and tapping “Create,” I Need A Muse will concoct one for you, with no furrowed brow and brainstorming needed. But, such things are never easy to come by, despite all good intentions of Gautch.
Being a writer, myself, or at least, an aspiring one, I can attest to the difficulty inherent in the creative process. Sometimes, it’s an absolute breeze – words, characters, and premises are not so much grasped as fully grabbed, easily plucked from the clutches of your right cerebral cortex to be laid out, resplendent on paper. And, other times, it’s a sad practice in futile desperation, gasping for air when there is no air at all, and mustering what little of your confused sensibilities you have to jigsaw a ragged piece – this is where cliches, and refurbished ideas come into play, the Thomas Kincaid of the writing artform. At the risk of sounding hackneyed and cliched, writing is all too similar to running. There is a state of zen achieved when everything glides smoothly, with hardly any thinking at all, a rhythmic, perfectly sustainable motion. It, plain and simple, just is. Runners, when at their finest, feel a surge of energy they reign in, their endorphins racing, and their concentration wanes in favor of relaxation, dreaminess, an enjoyment of being privy to that state of perfect, almost accidental balance. In that perfectly honed moment of writing, ideas are strangely orderly, and decoded too quickly for the fingers to type, the writer finding himself in a sustained state of mental clarity, alertness, of keeping up, a transcriber to his very lucid thoughts.
Of course, I wouldn’t be a writer if I claimed that all good writing is born from those moments of sheer clarity – which, frankly, aren’t that rare at all for the good writers (the Imaginagicians, as I call them). Writing, like any artform, is also a craft, and whatever skills or talents you bring to the table must be carefully honed and winnowed, cut to a precise, sharp edge. Writing, and its close cohort, reading, are nurtured from a very early age, so in many ways any one person’s talent in writing is set in stone based on these early practices. Well, maybe not stone, but certainly a thick, drying mud, or quicksand – writing can certainly be malleable. Of course, being able to weave a good sentence is far different from being able to create an original idea, of being able to create characters and bring them to life. And yet, the two ideas are inextricably entwined.
What I Need A Muse fails to realize is that the creative process cannot be undone from the act of writing, itself. I Need A Muse may be able to create an interesting, even unique character name for you, and attach it to a slightly eccentric job title, but since you took no part in that process, you miss out on that vital link of emotional resonance. You did not create this character. You did not conduct research or search your local environment for inspiration, from cafes, markets, or from that frumpy woman who rocks in her porch chair every morning, but is seen no where else. You did not write this character, or decide that he was “surly.” Creative Writing classes will often give its students writing prompts, perhaps even of brief, character sketches, to incite students to nurture that creative spark. But, what I Need A Muse presents is a stark, robotic character, pumped out by a digital machine. Sure, a name here or there might be useful, but what would you write about for Aaron Cruz, a quiet Cashier working in Douglas Memorial Park?
I don’t know, either.