Writing Companions

Amy Tan

Lesson time 10:21 min

Write to your muse, talk to ghosts, and dialogue with your doppelgänger. Amy takes you into her creative underworld to teach you how to access yours.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Muse • The Ghost • The Doppelgänger


[PIANO MUSIC] When I'm about to enter the fictional world and start writing for the day, I bring with me writing companions. And by that, I don't mean living, breathing people in the room, but ones I imagine are in my writing mind. If you do this, remember, perfectionists are not allowed. Instead, choose companions who are kind and. Insightful they can give you a deeper understanding of the story you're writing, what feels genuine and not contrived. [PIANO MUSIC] I call one of the companions the muse. I think of her as a higher level of consciousness, a spiritual energy who brings me surprises that break open my understanding of what the story really is about. You've been slogging along. You've encountered all those dead ends, all those boggy places. It's been such hard work. You've figured out why this is not Working and why this character is not consistent. And suddenly, there's this opening. It's crazy, but suddenly, the story flows without impediment. And you know where to go. It's as though it's writing itself. I won't say that the characters are writing it. You're still very much in control, but without a sense of any resistance, any insecurity. And the story just moves forward. Those are moments that almost every artist feels. And a number of people call it the muse where the muse has suddenly come into you and has the direction. It has the knowledge. Because you don't think it's you. You're the person who's just back there was stuck in the mud. Then how did this happen? I think that part of it is that we want to think that it is our source that helped us get to this place because it does feel elevated. It feels like the biggest high that you have ever had in your life. And the thing that is common among people I know, writers and musicians, is that you worry it will never happen again. But it is so full of elation when you get there. The story moves. You understand it all. It all makes sense. All the hard work was worth it. And it is the reason you want to keep writing. You hope that happens again. It is the most meaningful thing that can happen. It is you in your purest form. You can't force it. I can't say that I'm going to have it with every chapter or two times with every book. I can't predict where it's going to happen. It just suddenly happens. You can dissect, say what is this, really? We say it's a muse because we can't explain what it is. It's a higher force. I think at times, it could be that point when your intuitions do come into play. You call it serendipity or coincidence. Think of it as the muse, that that moment was the intersection of your need to know something and it being delivered somehow. You can rationalize it. Oh, I do that. Allow yourself to feel that there is something greater than you as you write the story. And if you keep working at it, you will probably find those moments where everything cracks open, you understand where you're going, all the challenges ...

About the Instructor

Amy Tan was 33 before she first explored her voice as a fiction author. A few years later, her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, spent 40 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Now she’s showing you her approach to the challenges and joy of self-discovery through writing. Learn how to craft compelling beginnings and endings, find your voice, and embrace your emotional memory to bring powerful narratives to life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Amy Tan

The celebrated author shares her approach to voice, story, and the craft of bringing narratives to life from beginning to end.

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