The Scribe and the Muse

On the one hand, writing requires focus and discipline. We’ll refer to the mental systems behind these behaviors as the Scribe. In ancient times, scribes were the people who wrote things down. In societies in which few people knew how to read, the skill of writing itself was highly valued. Scribes were not always the authors of the words they recorded. Within each of us, the Scribe summons our verbal skills to find the right words, assembles them in grammatically correct sentences, and creates sensible structures. The Scribe manages deadlines and gets the work done.

But writers also access intuition, creativity, and empathy. These processes are the domain of the Muse. No matter what genre you work in, the Muse fills a critical role, finding unexplored connections and fresh ways of approaching subjects. The Muse accesses the freewheeling, associative parts of the mind to uncover impressions and infuse our words with vivid detail or inspired metaphors.

The Scribe and the Muse are shorthand labels for describing intentional and intuitive mental processes…

When the Muse and the Scribe collaborate, the work becomes fast, fluid, and fun. This book could have been titled Writing Fast and Slow to pay homage to Daniel Kahneman’s two selves. Just as we depend on the two decision-making systems to survive, our successful careers depend on balancing the Scribe and the Muse.

Janzer, Anne. The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear (pp. 17-19). Cuesta Park Consulting. Kindle Edition.

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