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Muses Live in the Routine

I find that the muses come to me when I'm in the process of creating, whether it be through routine or hard work.
“The routine is important to me,” said a successful painter who works in her studio for four hours five times a week. “When I get started, there’s a wonderful sense of well-being. I like to feel myself plodding along. I specifically choose that word, plod. When it’s going good, I feel ‘this is the essential me.’ It’s the routine itself that feeds me. If I didn’t do it, I’d be betraying the essential me.” (Location 478)
The Muse arrives to us most readily during creation, not before. Homer and Hesiod invoke the Muses not while wondering what to compose, but as they begin to sing. If we are going to call upon inspiration to guide us through, we have to first begin the work. (View Highlight)
The computers that nowadays catalogue galaxies may or may not do it better than the graduate students used to. But they certainly do not experience such reflections as a result. I mention this because I often hear scientific research described in rather a bleak way, suggesting that it is mostly mindless toil. The inventor Thomas Edison once said, ‘None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.’ Some people say the same about theoretical research, where the ‘perspiration’ phase is supposedly uncreative intellectual work such as doing algebra or translating algorithms into computer programs. But the fact that a computer or a robot can perform a task mindlessly does not imply that it is mindless when scientists do it. After all, computers play chess mindlessly – by exhaustively searching the consequences of all possible moves – but humans achieve a similar-looking functionality in a completely different way, by creative and enjoyable thought. Perhaps those galaxy-cataloguing computer programs were written by those same graduate students, distilling what they had learned into reproducible algorithms. (Location 676)


Whether it's the routine or the fever pitch of hard work, the muses will attend. 202301051910