Let's be honest. My muses can be total bitches, especially when I'm already feeling depressed and they heap criticism on top of me. Never is their imagination more devilishly clever that when they're telling me all the things that are wrong with me and all the reasons this planet would be so much better off without me. "You're nothing," they whisper. "A talentless nobody. A pathetic creature. You do nothing but take up space and air. Somebody would probably throw a big party if you really did swallow all those pills. You couldn't be a bigger loser if you tried. If you tried even more than you do already, that is."
So, yes, my muses torture me when depressed thoughts take over my mind. But they're also the ones who come up with the perfect word or phrase I need when I'm writing an essay or a story. My muses suggest plotlines and then patiently rework them when I'm not happy with them the first time. And it's my muses who help introduce a theme and then tie it all together neatly at the end of the tale.
I need those creatures to write just like my body needs air to breathe. But how do I keep my muses focused on my writing rather than on my real or imagined character flaws? Through careful care and feeding. And I do mean careful. I've often thought that Hagrid should have taught the Hogwarts students to care for muses in the Harry Potter series. At least then I'd have had a little more direction. In the meantime, the following techniques seem to work well for me in managing my muses.