Oh…you…you came here for story ideas? You didn’t listen to us about prepping for NaNoWriMo? Don’t have a clue what you’re going to write tomorrow, either, huh? Oof, you screwed yourself big time, darling.
What’s that? Oh, yeah I know you wanted to participate. But really, if you didn’t do the prep work, there’s not much I can tell you. Unless…
No, no, it’s too dangerous.
No, I couldn’t possibly tell you. You’ll just end up getting hurt.
Wow, that desperate to write a book, huh? Alright, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Come closer, friend. Let me tell you how you can get a guaranteed1 bestselling novel idea for NaNoWriMo and beyond.
There are many different ideas for where muses come from. Don’t listen to them. Muses are the souls of the innocent. Those who passed on before the world corrupted them, stamped out their dreams, or extinguished their light.
Beware that those who make contact with one are forever changed. Some will benefit, of course, making multi-million dollar book deals. Others, however, are overwhelmed by the sheer number of ideas foisted upon them. Others still make contact with something that turns out to not be a muse at all. They are the most unfortunate of all.
Muses drive even the strongest of souls to the brink of madness. It’s up to you to make it back.
How to prepare
Because of this, I beg of you to take precautions.
First, clear your mind and the staging area of any negativity. Cleanse the area you will be using as thoroughly as possible. Burning sage or incense is recommended, music is good, too. Do not play Wagner.
Secondly, but just as important, you must enclose the space you are using with salt. A thick circle of salt, unbroken, keeps any nasty spirits piggybacking on this ritual from getting through. You are opening a gateway into our world, and even the smallest of creatures that slip through can wreak havoc.
1 small mirror
1 tub of ice cold water
1 humanoid-shaped doll you can throw away – do not use a doll with thumbs
A name for the doll – do not speak it aloud until you’ve activated it
1 CLEAN pin or knife – something to prick your finger to draw blood with2
2 chairs or pillows, one for you and one for the doll
1 candle and a (reliable) lighter
Lots of paper, a pen, and a surface for writing
1 windowless room large enough to hold you, the tub of water, and the two pillows, with enough space so you do not touch the doll
One more chance to turn back
Summoning is a dangerous thing – your intention and confidence must never falter or prepare to suffer grave consequences. If there are any dark entities around that sense your weakness, they may appear instead, posing as your muse. Once begun, this ritual may be ended, but you will still have called something to our side of the Veil, and whatever it is, is free to do as it pleases.
Follow the precautions carefully, say your lines with conviction, and never let your fear show and you should be okay. Good luck.
Burn the incense or sage, take some deep breaths, take a cleansing shower or bath (or at the very least wash your hands with soap), and then do the following at 11:11 pm on Halloween night:
Fill the tub with water if you have not already done so, and place the mirror, reflective side up, into the bottom of the tub.
Bring the candle to where you will be sitting and light it. You will need this for light during the summoning, but will need access to it for two more parts of the ritual.
Set up the pillows so that you have the one near the tub and writing supplies and the doll sits on the one behind you.
Double check yourself. Are you afraid? Tamp that down as much as you can. Do not appear weak.
Time to start
Once you are ready, turn out the artificial light of the room and spread the salt in a thick circle to encompass all of your materials. Make sure it is fully closed and do not cross it once drawn. This protects you while you work.
Prick or cut your finger to draw blood, and smear it on the forehead of your doll in a horizontal stripe. Think the “Simbaaa” scene from The Lion King, but say nothing. Do not draw any other shape. Place the doll back down onto the pillow, facing away from you or, if it cannot sit up, have it lay with its head pointing toward you, face up to the ceiling.
Do not look at the doll for the rest of the ritual, no matter what you hear behind you.
What to say
Clear your throat, stare into the tub as unblinkingly as possible, and chant:
“Come here little muse, and let’s play a game
All of the others so terribly tame.
To tell them a story’s our Halloween goal,
So come here and whisper, you innocent soul.”
Continue to chant this until you see movement in your peripheral or over your shoulder in the mirror, or you hear movement behind you. Once this happens, stop chanting and say, “Welcome, [the name you picked for the doll].” Get settled with your writing supplies, blow out the candle, and then say, “please begin when you are ready.”
The spirit will now speak to you. You may not hear actual sound; this is fine. However, if an adult is speaking, you must put down your writing supplies and firmly but politely ask it to leave up to three times.
Absent or Stubborn spirits
If you do not get any indication that someone has joined you after twenty repetitions of the chant, either no one came, or someone is pretending they didn’t. Pick up the candle, break the salt circle, and leave until morning. Destroy the doll in the daylight after dunking it in the water.
If it continues to speak despite your command, light the candle and ask three more times. If it ignores this, break the circle of salt, get up, and leave the building with the candle. Do not look at the doll or return to the building until daylight. Once you return (and you must), light more incense or sage if you like, but dip the doll in the water of the tub you left behind, then destroy the doll in the daylight and throw it away.
The rest of the ritual
If all goes well, then yes – you will be writing in the dark. Transcribe what this spirit tells you as best as you can, without interruption or asking it to repeat itself. It will not repeat itself.
This ritual will last as long as your muse wants it to, or until sunrise, whichever comes first. If you would like to end it early, know that this will annoy your muse and they will be less likely to show next time. To end the ritual, simply interrupt your muse and say, “Thank you for coming, [name], but I must rest now.” If they do not leave, repeat the steps above for asking an unknown entity to leave.2
Once the ritual is over, disperse the salt. If you were successful and your muse left politely, you may keep the doll for another use. If there were any problems, I recommend you destroy the doll after dunking it in the water for a fresh start. You may only do this ritual once a year.
2Options for certain limitations
If you are unable to speak, you can use sign language (as it is your intent that is read anyway), or write the chant on paper three times and burn it. You may put the burning paper out in the water. To welcome the doll, write the greeting down on spare paper and slide it behind you, careful not to turn toward the doll. To ask the spirit to leave, you can knock on the floor three times for each time you request them to leave.
If you are unable or unwilling to use blood, you may alternatively tie a red ribbon around both your and the doll’s wrist. When you are ready to leave, remove the ribbon from your wrist or cut it off. Do not look at the doll. When disposing of the doll, also destroy the full piece of ribbon you used.
Did you survive?
Did you get a story? Even better!
If you didn’t get a story dictated by your muse, hopefully doing something so unusual knocked some neat ideas loose for you. At the very least this gave you something fun to do instead of panicking about NaNoWriMo. Seriously, it’s just a fun way to motivate you to write a novel, not a make-or-break competition to the death or anything. Relax, have fun, eat some snacks, and get to writing!
Happy Halloween, folx ~*
1Because people are ridiculous:
This ritual is for entertainment purposes only. In deciding to follow any or all of these steps, you absolve me of all responsibility for any injury or difficulty or literally any consequence including but not limited to: surprise hemophilia, infections, destruction of property, mental illness, panic attacks, arson (accidental or intentional), trespassing charges, demonic possession, muse integration, death, dismemberment, spoopy skeleton syndrome, night terrors, cold sweats, or one heck of a sweet novel written in 30 days and nights culminating in worldwide fame and massive fortune.