Stories from Healthy Mind

The 2,500-Year-Old Trick That’ll Help You *Finally* Get That Creative Project Off the Ground

Mary Grace Garis

Mary Grace GarisJune 22, 2020

Thumbnail for The 2,500-Year-Old Trick That’ll Help You *Finally* Get That Creative Project Off the Ground
Pin It
Photo: Getty Images/martin dm

I have two muses: Timothée Chalamet and the ancient Greek goddess Thalia. I called upon both during a workshop on how to be creative held by Yia Mas, an event series that explores wellness through the lens of Greek culture. Yia Mas co-founder Kristina Headrick, a movement and meditation instructor, kicked off the session by explaining that the very definition of the word “muse” needs to be reclaimed, though, in order to successfully harness our creative potential.

Originally, the mythological Greek muses were nine goddesses who delivered inspiration to mortals pursuing different creative disciplines. But in the past 200 or so years, the understanding of “muse” has transformed and now invokes the image of a beautiful (human) woman who inspires a man’s artistic genius—be it Picasso’s muse, Fitzgerald’s muse, what have you. “We’d like to reclaim that because women are very creative vessels inherently, and not just here to service creativity,” Headrick says.  In my case, Chalamet falls into that category, despite the gender swap at play, so I released him from my understanding of what a muse is and instead focused on the classic Thalia.

Of course, finding your creative voice may not be your top priority. We are in the middle of a global crisis, and you are not obligated to write King Lear if you don’t want. But if you are in the mood to ease yourself into a creative state, Headrick’s simple process, outlined below, for finding your inner muse—in its original iteration—will help you find your real muse and get your imagination flowing.

Below, find your 4-step guide for finding your inner muse to help you learn how to be creative

1. Set an intention word

Choosing an intention word before you begin a creative project sets the tone for your expression. I went with “effervescent,” because I wanted to create something that felt giggly and light.

Setting an intention also helps create a sense of ritual around the creative process, making it feel like a special part of your day—not just another thing on your to-do list.

2. Quiet your inner critic with the meditation of lovingkindness

The meditation of lovingkindness, or “Metta,” is a beloved and effective compassion meditation. Headrick chose lovingkindness for this ritual because it asks us to send love to both others and ourselves—and self-love is necessary for silencing your inner critic and nurturing the seed of creativity.

The meditation of lovingkindness helps to relax an overactive nervous system, which can get in the way when you’re trying to access a creative flow state and be creative. “I know what it’s like to sit down at a computer, all hyped to write and then just…blank page and anxiety,” says Headrick. “When you’re more relaxed from something like a meditation, I liken it to when you have those brilliant thoughts in the shower. When you’re relaxed and not putting in so much effort to be creative, it tends to flow more easily.”

“When you’re relaxed and not putting in so much effort to be creative, it tends to flow more easily.” —Kristina Headrick, movement and meditation instructor

Simply sit for 15 minutes and extend love to someone you love, someone you feel neutral about, yourself, and all people with the phrase: “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.” Headrick recommends doing this practice any time you embark on a creative project. “Just because you’ve done it once doesn’t mean it’s over and handled,” she says. “[Self-love] takes practice, just like a musician practices their scales or a runner keeps running.”

3. Call upon your ancient Greek muse for guidance around how to be creative

This last part is something I did silently, and it puts a nice cap on your practice. Simply choose whichever muse is most closely connected to the project you’re looking to bring forth and mentally ask for her support and inspiration:

1. Calliope

Calliope is the muse of eloquence and epic poetry. That could mean penning your first novel or writing a persuasive feature article. There are a lot of things that need public attention now, and storytelling is one way to do that. With Calliope’s help, we find the most appropriate and poignant words to capture our readers’ interest.

2. Clio

Clio is a celebratory goddess and the muse of history, very often referred to as “the Proclaimer.” She inspires the retelling of stories that turned mere mortals into legends, and gods into…well, still gods. If you’re working on a project honoring someone or something from the past, Clio is your girl.

3. Erato

Drawing upon the root word “eros,” which means “love,” Erato is, rather obviously, the muse of love poetry—of both the PG- and XXX-rated varieties. She’s good to summon when you’re looking to write the greatest harlequin novel of all time, cultivate some tender words for your sweetheart’s birthday, or hell, write a very impactful sext.

4. Euterpe

This one’s pretty straightforward: Euterpe is the muse of lyric poetry, so essentially anything to do with music. For the aspiring songwriter or even the seasoned guitarist, Euterpe is the one to call upon for all things melodious. Tap Euterpe when you’re hitting a road block over, “What rhymes with ‘orange'”?

5. MelpoMeNe

Oh, my heart goes out to you if you’re giving her a dial: Melpomene is the muse of tragedy. Any work that’s centered around grief, be it a heart-wrenching one-act play or an emotional eulogy, can be strengthened by calling upon this muse.

6. Polyhymnia

Polyhymnia is a little abstract in her rule—specifically, she’s the muse of hymns. But she also covers other art forms ruled by different muses, like dance and eloquence, as well as agriculture and pantomime. If you’re a multi-disciplinary renaissance woman, this goddess of all trades might be of use.

7. Terpsichore

Terpsichore is the muse of dance, so think of her when you’re trying out a new ballet class from your kitchen or filming the latest TikTok dance—especially if you’ve got two left feet. Any sort of jovial movement is a job for Terpsichore.

8. Thalia

My girl Thalia is the muse of comedy and idyllic poetry. For the rom-com screenplay you’ve been putting off, the web series you never wrote, or anything that’s simply meant to be silly, she is your girl.

9. Urania

Finally, Urania is the muse of astronomy, which seems useless because you’re not going to go create another cosmos. But since Urania rules over the heavens, she’s perfect for when you want to take your creativity to new heights—or create some kind of astrology-inspired masterpiece.

4. Keep practicing your craft

Headrick points out that the mother of the muses is Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. (Their father, of course, is Zeus, who got around.) This factoid signifies that creativity comes from what’s embedded in our memory, and practicing our craft allows us to to flourish and flow with it.

“The muses were devoted,” Headrick says. “We live in a time where our attention is so precious but also under attack. I have to remind myself constantly when I waste time scrolling a feed, then complain that I’m not ‘not good at guitar’ yet. Call on the muses’ dedication to creativity—then make your ‘practice’ time playful.”

Loading More Posts...