What Is the Muse? The Source of Creative Inspiration

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the muse? How can understanding the creative muse help you with your artistic projects?

The muse is traditionally seen as a mythical force that inspires artists creatively. Almost every ancient culture, from Greeks to Native Americans, has an identified embodiment of this force of nature. Understanding and harnessing the power of the muse will help with creative inspiration and output.

So, what is the muse? Find out below.

What Is the Muse?

The creative muse can be considered a mystical force that inspires artists. Some refer to the muse as an angel, and some think of it as talent. Whichever form suits you best is fine as long as you understand that some psychic force is supporting your work as an ally. This force, when experienced, is stronger than resistance at its best. 

The concept of the muse is not new. For the Greeks, their force was the gods. The father of all gods was Zeus, and in Greek mythology, his nine daughters were the muses. 

Some believed that the gods took an interest in the affairs of mortals and interfered for either good or bad (perhaps better understood as rewards or punishments). William Blake, an 18th-century poet, believed the muses delighted in the creations of the living. Others suggested that artistic creations already existed in this higher plane, and the creative muse simply provided the path for the mortal to bring them forth. 

You may not believe in this mythological mumbo jumbo. But once you understand how the muse works, you may begin to see the benefit of having this force in your corner. 

How the Muse Becomes Your Ally

When you acknowledge the creative muse in your artistic life, you counteract feelings of ego that can hinder the authenticity of your work. The creative muse is not just from a higher dimension, the muse wants to help you and knows things that you don’t. It sees your potential and wants to give you what you need to reach it. But for that to happen, you must be open to hearing the muse and listening. Basically, you need to get out of your head so you can hear the inspiration when it comes. The only way to summon the muse is simply starting to work. 

What Is the Muse? The Source of Creative Inspiration

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  • Why creative people feel resistance when approaching their true work
  • How to break down the wall that holds you back from reaching your potential
  • How to tap into your creative power and honor the genius you were born with

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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