Monday, June 8, 2015

Getting Your Writing Mojo Back

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A Post By Jonathan


Help! Someone's stolen my mojo! I was just chillin' in what could be described as my own version of a writer's cryofreeze --aka, first-time dad zone-- and when I thawed out, and finished taking a hideously long pee, all my writing mojo was gone.

The culprit looked a little like this:

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or maybe a little more like this:

My 5-month old mini me, notice the resemblance?

Either way, it's gone. But I've got a plan to get it back (feel free to follow these steps if you too have had your writing mojo stolen):

Step 1: Write Something New

As it probably is for many writers (first-time novelists, especially), this is a huge decision for me. I've spent nearly ten years working on the same story, writing the same characters, living in the same world. I never started a new project because it always felt like I would be quitting, like I would be walking away from all that hard work. But after consulting some of my trusted writerly friends over at bksp.org (if you haven't visited the forums on this site, you need to check them out), and those here at Across the Board of course, I learned that moving on to a different project doesn't necessarily mean you're throwing in the towel. It also doesn't mean that you will never return to that first novel. It just means that you are growing as a writer, that you recognize when, creatively, you need a new challenge. For me, it's either write something new or not write at all (at least that's how it feels).

Strangely enough, just giving myself permission to go down this path has greatly improved my outlook on the whole writing process. No one writes well when they're dreading even sitting down at the keyboard. Whether I end up starting a new project or not --or just keep slogging away on my current WIP-- just giving myself the okay has done wonders. I can feel my mojo coming back already!

Do I make you randy, baby, yeah! Where'd that come from?

Step 2: Take A Trip

My wife and I are talking about taking a vacation soon, which should be a good mojo booster in and of itself. Coincidentally, the drive to our potential vacation spot takes us right past Space Camp, which is where some of my current MG Sci-Fi WIP takes place. I have never actually been there, but we're planning on stopping by (thirteen hours in the car with a five-month old will make you plan out your stops very, very carefully).

I have mixed feelings about the visit... I'm excited and apprehensive all at the same time. This could be the big boost I've needed to fall back in love with my WIP. I've got to think that actually seeing the place I've been writing about for the last decade will send my creative juices soaring into stratosphere. To the shag wagon, baby!

But what if it has the opposite effect? What if just seeing the place reminds me how much work I've got to do? How many revisions there are? How wrong I've been about the place all along!!!

Okay, while I'm busy hyperventilating feel free to check out this cool article I read recently about how travel can improve your writing skills: The simple, super-sexy, science backed way to improve your writing skills

Step 3: Be Patient

This is a big one.

You hear about writers like former Across the Board member, Beth Ellyn Summer, getting book deals (Congrats, again, Beth! We are super happy for you!:) and you can't help but wonder when it will be your time. Well, getting published means having a work to publish, and having a work to publish means having words in a book, and having words in a book takes writing them down, and writing takes mojo! So it's just not my time. What I need to do now is focus on me, and where I am in the writing process. Just set a few small goals for myself. Jot a few sentences down. Do a little outlining, maybe (though I'm more of a pantser myself...). Even thinking about writing is something, right?

Well wish me luck, dear reader, as I try to get my writing mojo back. If there are other things I should/could be doing, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below. I can use all the help I can get.

Yeah baby yeah!

16 comments:

  1. I concur on taking a trip. I took a trip to Key West when my oldest was 18 months old and I got inspiration for the project I'm working on now. My next trip is aboard a Disney Cruise. Thinking a new mystery series where Goofy is the villain.

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    1. Thanks, Kimberly! I'm semi-dreading being in the car for that long with a car-seat hating 5-month old, but I'm really looking forward to the time off from the soul sucking day job and the relaxation it "should" bring.

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  2. you're the best, Jonathan!! thank you! I can't tell you how many times I've been through this. The book I was working on in the fall was all wrong and I spent a good month or so trying to make it work. The problem was, it was too similar to my book on sub (now sold) and I needed to do something totally different. Now the book I'm working on now is flowing so much better. I think the trip and seeing a setting for your MS will completely help :) also your son is adorable!

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    1. Beth, you rock! I thought we needed some kind of announcement about your big news over here, so I figured I'd slip it into my post:) Congrats again! And thanks for the support-- I've always heard that your first novel always goes in a drawer somewhere, but never wanted to believe it (still don't, really:). But maybe I just need to explore the waters to know what I've got, you know? Or perhaps this trip is coming at the exact right time... At least I'm not giving up altogether, right? Could never see myself doing that... Thanks for the props on the baby. He's pretty darn adorable if I do say so myself.

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    2. Howdy, stranger! Congrats on your big news, Beth!

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  3. Great post, Jonathan! I think you have a solid plan in place. Although I've never looked at it as losing my mojo, since I published Shattered Angel I haven't been able to get into the grove of my next novel. I realised that part of it was because I needed to let the emotions of writing Angel's story play out. Now I'm focused on getting the three biggest distractions out of the way - (1) I had a short story clogging up my brain. I've never written a short story, and I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I wrote it. (2) Getting my newsletter up and going. (3) Revamping my Pinterest account to focus on my author/book stuff. I already feel some 'mojo' coming back after getting #1 done, and really hope completing #2 and #3 will bring it back completely! I guess I've learned that if I have a distraction that's holding me back, then I need to just focus on that and knock it out.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your POV, Carrie! Unfortunately, I can't just "knock out" my little distraction (lol!). I do think/have heard that when the kids grow up a little bit, the writing gets a little easier and time a little more plentiful. Maybe I just need to let that happen before I declare that I've totally lost my mojo?!

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    2. Very good point! I guess I can't really compare writing with a young child vs. older since my daughter was 7 when I started. I will say that even now I don't find much time when she's home since my focus is to spend time with her, but she is in lots of activities and so that's when I can get in that extra writing time! I have no doubt you'll figure out something that works for you!

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  4. Day job, tiny human, presumably wanting to spend time with your wife, eating, sleeping...sometimes it's not losing your mojo, it's life forcing you to re-prioritize for a little while. Which doesn't mean quitting or setting aside your dreams, but giving yourself permission to take a time out. I always find that forcing myself to write when I'm not in the mood doesn't work for me and that's when I work on other things -- promo, networking, even reading counts. And if I'm desperate to get back to it and it's still not happening, I dig into Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and pick a random prompt to respond to, just to get the creativity flowing again.

    Congratulations on your little one. When I had my son, now 10, people always said the days last forever, but the years fly by and I finally understand what they mean.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Brrenda! You're right. After all the things you list, I'm pretty darn tuckered out. I used to do my writing from 8pm to however long it took me to get to 1,000 words. Now when 8:00pm hits, it's all I can do not to topple over. Perhaps I haven't lost my mojo after all. I will definitely check out the book you recommend. A prompt might just be what I need to get the creative juices flowing again. Thanks!

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  5. Great post, Jonathan! I couldn't imagine being a dad and dealing with all this business. Mad props to you, fella!

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    1. Thank you, sir. Hopefully things will simmer down soon. In other news, I actually did end up doing some outlining last night. I'm trying to turn one of my old short stories into a novel/novella. It's about a crazed New Jersey bus driver who snaps and tries to kill all of his passengers. I may be consulting you soon for your horror expertise. Stay tuned!

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    2. If you hurry the heck out of that one you might be able to get it in to Tor before their novella submissions close July 1!

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  6. Great post! Especially about being patient... 'Tis the hardest part!

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    1. Thanks, Mary! Patience is a virtue, as they say. I wish I could say I never envy other writers' successes, but it's a natural human emotion, am I right? Anyway, congrats on all your successes (he says with no jealousy whatsoever;), and many more to come!

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