I started writing a journal when I was nine or ten years old. Mostly it was a place to complain about the injustices of life! Kids have so little control over their lives (and the truth is, none of us have much control over our lives even as adults—meaning that I can brainstorm and plan and begin to execute, and then whatever happens, happens. I don’t mean this is a bad way, either. It’s just that we think we have control, and there are so many factors that influence outcomes.) Anyway, back to writing. By the time I was 12, I knew I would be a writer. I went to college to study journalism and creative writing. The journalism side went well; there was always a topic to write about. The creative writing side was a bust during college. I’d sit in front of my typewriter and a blank piece of paper. And sit there. And look at the white paper. And sit there. Blank paper, blank mind. Sounds kind of Zen, but believe me, it wasn’t. Eventually I left college before graduating.
I figured I needed to live life for a while and hope that eventually I’d have something to say/write about. It worked! I’ve written to you, readers, for about nine years now. I wrote three books since 2010, and soon will have the first of my couples graphic novel series published (look for I Do, I Don’t: How to Build a Better Marriage in 2023).
As you know, I’ve been in a huge packing, remodeling, getting a house ready to rent, moving, and unpacking mode since June. I’m well enough settled into my new home. Once I can sleep, cook, shower and look at art on the walls, I’m happy (yes, I rearranged the kitchen three times; I think it’s good enough). So now I can refocus on writing and adventures with my newly-retired husband in between my work.
Still as I faced the blank screen on my laptop this morning, nothing happened. I stalled before facing the blank screen by trimming a bush near the driveway (it looks really healthy now and won’t scratch my legs as I walk by). I finally got out pen and paper and did a Natalie Goldberg exercise called Free Writing: start writing and don’t stop to edit, cross out, fix spelling, etc. When you run out of words, write, “I don’t know what to write.” Another thought will pop up to be written. The idea is to not take the pen off the paper and just keep going. As usual, it worked to loosen me up, and here I am writing to you again.
Back to the original topic: I lost my writing Mojo for three years. I had written a draft of a sexy romance novel featuring people in their 50s (instead of 20s/30s) and realized it needed to be twice as long and I had to put my characters through a lot of trials and tribulations. I have not gone back to that book so far. I grieved and mourned the loss of writing while still trying to write. I grieved. I walked, I exercised, I tried to write. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I eventually realized I had to accept that I was truly in a dry spell. Saying I didn’t like that is a huge understatement. Inside I fought against it. I eased in and out of acceptance between bouts of seriously disliking the fact. I struggled. I would remind myself to accept that’s where I was and try to give myself a break. Afterall, I had three years to experience it.
In Covid April 2020, I woke up one morning feeling a whoosh of energy flow through me (yes, I’m a kinesthetic) and what came with that: It’s time to write a couples book. I was so excited. An idea! Juice! Mojo!
Next, I wondered what I would write and how I would differentiate it from other couples books. Did you know there are over 70,000 couples books on Amazon? I didn’t either, until I looked it up. Wow. Daunting. In keeping with my attitude of acceptance, I let my question swirl around: how to differentiate my book? A couple of weeks later the answer popped into my head: graphic novel! (I confess I hadn’t read any graphic novels at that point with the exception of Captain Underpants over and over to my son when he was young.) And to further differentiate it, I’d illustrate the internalized voices of mom, dad, and the unconscious that we all have which impact our interpersonal lives, often unbeknownst to us.
As the saying goes, the rest is history. Of course, I did research, sought out experts to talk with, ask questions of, and listen to well. My mentors have been incredible: their knowledge and willingness to help has made all the difference. My artist is extraordinary and our collaboration is a joy. I hope to meet him in person; he’s in his late 20s and lives in the Philippines.
So, if you’ve lost your mojo, try taking better care of yourself, do things you enjoy the most, get a change of scenery, meet new people--especially people outside your normal circles--work on acceptance, brainstorm with others, try new hobbies and activities. In other words, both be kind to yourself in your stuck place and also shake up your life a bit.
What do you do when you’ve lost your mojo? Please share stories so we can all learn strategies from one another.