Writing Mojo

I’ve lost my writing mojo. It’s gone. I’ve looked in all the usual places: under the bed, in the space below the fridge, beneath my pup’s cushion. In fact it’s so far gone, even writing this blog post is hard. But how did I lose my writing mojo, and even tougher, how do I get it back? It’s certainly not as easy as it was for Austin Powers, who only had to fight a few bad guys to win back his glass vial of mojo.

Losing your writing mojo is sadly easy. I’ve talked before about how writing is a rhythm, and anything that interrupts this rhythm can be the cause. For me it was moving interstate, which meant several weeks of having everything packed in boxes, living out of suitcases and being in unfamiliar houses. Finally my new office is set up, my computer is booted up and ready … but still I can’t write.

What I’ve discovered in the last few years is that writing is really about thinking. If you’re not thinking about your story, you wont be able to write about it. So when your rhythm is interrupted, by stress or change, other things fill your head that can evict your story. When your story isn’t in your head, ideas stop bumping into each other, your characters stop speaking to you and your subconscious stops working on those little bursts of inspiration. Knowing this, the answer to getting my writing mojo back is clear:

  1. Get my story back in my head
  2. Get back into my rhythm

To tackle number 1, first I have to decide what project I’d like to work on. Then I read what I’ve got – a first draft, character profiles, even just a few scratchy notes on the back of an envelope. Whatever it is, it gets me thinking about the story again. At first, when I’m just getting back into the flow, I find I have to remind myself to be thinking about the story. But after a few days my subconscious is doing it for me, ticking over characters interactions whenever I have a moment to think or even at night while I’m asleep.

Tackling number 2 is all about routine. I start back into those daily activities that remind my mind and body that I’m getting back into my writing rhythm. For me that’s getting up early and going to the gym, doing a few little chores in the morning, blogging regularly and taking my pup for a walk in the afternoon. These are things that make me feel good and productive, but also give me time and space to be thinking about my story.

Sometimes it can take days. Sometimes it can take a week or so. Either way, I just have to be patient. I know it will come back. Soon ideas will be bursting at the seams and you wont be able to pry me from the computer. But you’ll have to excuse me for now – it’s time to take my pup for a walk…


17 Responses to “Writing Mojo”

  1. 1 Neridah McMullin February 3, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I have the same problem. I know I’ll get back into it but ti’s a struggle. I lose my writing mojo whenever school holidays come around. I take this break willingly and happily to spend time with my kids (and we have a great time). I know they’ll be all grown up one day and won’t want to hang out with me. So I’m cool about this. But I do miss my writing moments. It’s hard to let go. So I look upon this enforced break to do more yoga, walk and bike ride with the kids, to read late into the night, and read everything. I also like look back on old copies of Buzzwords, Pass It On and The Book Chook as I always find interesting things there to check out again. And I like to scrapbook my ideas over summer, and I do this to help kick start me back into writing in the new year, when the right time comes and that time is now! It’s hard moving house though, your old favourite thinking spaces and writing spaces are gone, you have to establish new ones in your new space. And that can be fun too – Get out those paint brushes!

  2. 2 Tina C February 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Hey Kathryn

    So sorry to hear you lost your mojo – but its quite understandable with your life – as you say – its been just a little unsettled lately.

    But you are looking at this right – you are taking positive steps to getting back into the swing – your mojo – she will follow soon.

    Even getting to take your pup for a walk is part of your normal process – so do it – enjoy your walks, and soon it will all wash back over you, and you’ll forget that your mojo even took its sabbatical away from you.

    Hugs across the distance.

    Bye 4 now

  3. 3 Lynne Green February 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

    With all you have going on in your life, your mojo hasn’t gone – it has just toddled off for a rest.

  4. 4 kathleen noud February 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I had to blog about this too after a month overseas, but you know what you’re doing. It’s all about routine. I go for familiar writing habits first (my writing space, my current writing playlist, a coffee) or sometimes I’ll start by re-reading a project and eventually it all falls into place.

  5. 5 Karen Tyrrell February 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Katherine, They say moving is one of the most stressful times in your life. And you can’t write with stress, can you? After everything settles down and you return to your day-to-day routine, you’ll be fine again, I just know it … Happy Writing! Karen :))

  6. 6 Joanna Gaudry February 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Lots of good points here, Katherine. I’ve course it must be stressful after moving. Like the term ‘writing mojo’. Rest up and be easy on yourself. Joanna :))

  7. 7 Belinda Jeffrey February 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I called my BF over last week and said ‘Help I’ve lost my writing mojo’ and she said in her usual calm and collected way ‘It’ll come back. Text me when it does.’
    Losing your mojo really does suck. I know how you feel. I’ve decided that this feeling will always be a part of writing and when it happens it helps to name it for what it is. I think it’s the restless, fractious part of the creative process, however uncomfortable and irritating. You’ll get your mojo back and, when you do, you’ll be off and running faster than before.
    I’m looking forward to visiting when I’m next there to see my dad.

  8. 8 Sheryl Gwyther February 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Kath, your mojo is still there – it’s just getting used to the new environment and the out-of-the ordinary things you’ve been doing lately.
    And, of course, you know how to get it back! :)

  9. 9 deescribewriting February 3, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    See Kath, that is exactly what I was going to suggest…taking the pup for a long walk:-)

    When I lose my mojo it’s usually because my head is too full of other stuff and I have to empty some of that out first…I find walking the pup (or in my case, The Puff) really helps.

    The condition you are suffering from is brain overload post traumatic stress syndrome. Okay, so I made that one up; but it’s true that sometimes after a huge amount of activity and stress in your life, your brain doesn’t seem to actually go into meltdown till the dust has settled.

    Do whatever it is that relaxes you most…and keep doing it until mojo comes back:-)


  10. 10 Carol Warner February 4, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Just maybe, your mojo is looking for you, Katherine. Give it time and you’ll both find each other. Meanwhile, draw! I love your little rabbit sketches :)

  11. 11 Savannah Hendricks February 4, 2010 at 4:47 am

    I lose my writing mojo often too. It happens for me because I don’t take the time out of my day to think and breathe. A simple time-out helps me get back on track.

  12. 12 Katherine Battersby February 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for all the support and great suggestions, guys. Like many of you said, I think it’s sometimes about accepting and embracing these tough cycles we go through, and giving yourself permission to take a little time off to recoup. I did that yesterday, and today I finally have the urge to write again. Just a little to start with, but I can feel more words bubbling away beneath my skin. And I’m off to the art store to buy a new sketch pad this avi, which is sure to help unearth my illustrating mojo…

  13. 13 chrisbongers February 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Kath, sounds like so many of us are in the same place after the long summer break. I’m still trying (and failing) to get back into the groove. We’ll all just have to keep trying and eventually we’ll get there. Thanks for another great post. xx

  14. 14 Trudie Trewin February 4, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Kath – it’s obvious really. Somehow, in the middle of all that moving, your mojo found its way down into that cellar!! Now you will have to go down there… mwa ha ha!
    I’m nearly there – I’ve seen a few glimpses of my mojo this week, fresh back from his summer break. (I reckon mojos go to the Caribbean for holidays. I’d really like mine to take me with him one year!)

  15. 15 Katherine Battersby February 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks Chris :)

    Trudie, you crack me up! I tell you what though, if my mojo is down that cellar, I’m still not going down there! That said, I think our mojos eloped because I caught a glimpse of mine today and he was sporting a killer tan…

  16. 16 Tania McCartney February 9, 2010 at 7:30 am

    So hope you’ve found your mojo, Katherine. Am having the exact same experience today where I just faff around and make cups of tea. Love the look of your new writing space – you’ll love Adelaide – we lived there for 18 months a while back, protesting all the way, and ended up really enjoying it. Make sure you visit the McLaren Vale farmer’s market – regularly. Great for the mojo!

  17. 17 Katherine Battersby February 11, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Tania, I’ve been catching glimpses of the elusive writing mojo for the last week and am finally getting back into it all with more gusto. What a wonderful feeling. Hope you get there too! And we’re certainly discovering pockets of Adelaide that we just adore – I’m sure the farmer’s markets will be one of them…

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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