April 02, 2013

Of Muse Jars and Other Essential Things - M. Laycock

I was chatting with a friend this morning and sharing about how nervous I was when I had to go about asking people for endorsements for my work. I confided that I was afraid that those I asked would respond in a negative way. (What if they hate my writing?)

My friend was amazed. "How could you think that?" she said.

"Self-doubt is a plague a lot of writers struggle with," I responded. It's one with which I am very familiar.

I was feeling quite discouraged not long ago and sat at my computer desk with all kinds of negative thoughts running rampant. Then I glanced up. I have a hodge-podge of photos and memorabilia on a ledge above my monitor. Just as I scanned them that day, my eyes rested on my muse jar. If you have been attending InScribe's Fall conference for a while you might have one too. I made one for each table one year. Someone at each table got to take the muse jar home. I saved a special one for myself, it's an old antique sealer jar that has a few pebbles in the bottom anchoring a picture of Lucy Maude Montgomery, author of the Anne and Emily books. I chose Lucy because it was after reading Emily of New Moon at the age of eleven that I decided to become a writer. Looking up at my muse jar encouraged me again and I turned back to my work.

Discouragement is a common problem for writers so it's advisable to keep things around you that will inspire you. Photos are good, especially those of friends and loved ones smiling back at you - I have a couple of myself with friends from writers' conferences that always make me smile. Things like my muse jar help too, and award certificates are physical reminders that my work has meant something to someone. A photo with Rudy Wiebe taken at his mentoring workshop reminds me of his words, "this is good writing," spoken as he critiqued my manuscript. A tiny crystal mouse, given to me by my brother when I was quite young reminds me that even small and seemingly insignificant things have purpose. A card my daughter gave me often helps - it's a picture of a woman doing a headstand on a mountaintop and bears the words, "unsteady at first, it was perseverance that saw her through." A photo of me teaching a workshop reminds me that I have skills to offer, things I can give others.

So fill your workspace with encouraging things. You never know when you might need them. You never know when the Lord will use them to lift your heart and remember you are doing what he created you to do.


Learn more about Marcia's writing and speaking ministry on her website .


  1. Marcia,

    What a great idea to surround your writing space with items that can help bring back the focus when things feel discouraging.

    Enjoyed your posting!

  2. How interesting. I have never thought of something physical like a jar or other memorabilia to help me feel inspired.Sometimes I go back to old journals

  3. Thank you, Marcia. This is an encouragement to me. I'm going to make my own muse jar!

  4. Glad the idea has sparked your imaginations. :)

  5. Thanks for being honest about discouragement. I also read Emily of New Moon the summer I turned 11, and it really inspired me, too!



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