The muse, at least mine is like a spoiled little brat. If I don't listen to her and feed her regularly she can get cranky. Yes I know the muse; at least my muse is female.
Luckily the brat is easy to feed.
But you never know when she'll strike, excuse, me, get hungry. She's irregular and if I waited for her I wouldn't get any writing done. You know the image of the writer or the artist waiting for the muse to strike? FANTASY.
But if you give the muse a good steady diet of items she will never do you wrong. How do you do that?
In addition to my critique group and my RWA chapter I check out blogs, especially review blogs.
I write romantic suspense and cozy mysteries, my cozies have a paranormal edge to them. I read in whatever genre I am currently writing in. At the moment it's cozies.
My muse forces me to keep my eyes open at all time. We may see something or hear something that will strike a story idea.
I'm a junkie for those books that show everyday life in certain periods of time. Also what I call garbage brain books, those ones that will show you a bunch of allegedly useless tidbits of information but somewhere in there may be the germ of my next book. My husband and his mother are both former reference librarians. my mother in law is the one who calls herself a garbage brain. The books are filled with all kinds of tidbits they have sitting in the back of their brains. If something sparks a story idea I can relay on them for further information on the subject.
My muse also likes to pop up in unexpected ways. On a trip to see my dad we decided to take our time and drive along a road where there was several used bookstores. This was a very wide road leading down to Cape Cod in Massachusetts. As we are driving I turned to my husband and said, "I wonder what would happen if a revolutionary war soldier suddenly found himself on this road." That started us playing what if? It went on for a while, even when we stopped to have lunch. However I think all our talk of guns and murder scared an older couple who moved to the other side of the restaurant, far away from us.
My muse has no tact.
That story idea is in a file called story seed and I'll bring it up one day and do something with it. One of those days when my muse decides to go on vacation. Until then she requires a steady diet of information, either from reading or from things that happen around us.
And chocolate of course, she's a sucker for chocolate.