Feeling stuck and uninspired?
Getting your writing mojo back is as simple as treating your writing practice like a lover. Seriously, to me writing feels very much like being in a relationship. You’ve got to nurture the flame to keep the spark alive.
There is the initial excitement when you discover your creative potential. Maybe you have joined an online writing course or a face-to-face writers group. You write to random prompts in the company of total strangers. And suddenly it all flows. You have no idea where it comes from, but you’re on fire. You create characters, sentences and paragraphs that you didn’t know you were capable of.
You’re in love. With the words and the endless ideas that burst forth like a broken pipe. You’ve fallen for a new companion. Your own creativity. And it loves you right back. It’s the best feeling in the world.
The honeymoon period lasts a few weeks, a month, two months even and then suddenly things start to get between you and your writing.
You skip your writing group because you’ve got to take the dog to the vet or because your best friend is in town or because your child is ill.
Whatever the reason, life will get in the way and you’ll say to yourself, and others, that you’ll get back to it as soon as you find time.
But it’s not about finding time. It’s about making time. It’s about honoring the commitment to your creativity and to your craft, to your calling even.
It’s like being in a relationship. You’ve made a commitment, whether you’ve taken marital vows or not.
To end a bad relationship takes a lot of effort. There will be agony and tears, there will be heartbreak, there will be financial issues to be worked out.
That’s where your writing practice is different. You can simply walk away from it. You don’t have to involve the lawyers, there won’t be any tears, but in years to come there might be heartbreak and regret. If only I had continued when the excitement was there. If only I had written the book I’d wanted to write.
So, start treating your writing like a proper relationship. Take a vow and swear to yourself that for better or for worse, in sickness and health, you’ll hang in there. You’ll honour your creativity. Then start showing up for yourself.
And when the spark goes, find ways to re-ignite the flame. Take your creativity on a date, flirt with it, pose in an áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress), or your preferred national dress. Do anything to re-ignite the spark.
I guarantee you, if you really give it the attention you would give to a relationship on the brink of collapse, you’ll find what it was that attracted you in the first place.
Here are 7 easy ways to get your writing mojo back when the spark’s gone:
1. Don’t put it off too long
Like any relationship, you can’t afford to neglect it for too long, or else it’ll slip away from you. The longer you put it off, the harder it will be to get back into it. Remind yourself that today is the best day to start writing again.
2. Write your name in Chinese calligraphy
Do anything to start moving that pen across the page. It’s all about the momentum. Just start anywhere. Doing something that’s totally out of context will imbue your writing with a new sense of wonder and excitement.
3. Take your writing practice on a date
Writing in an unfamiliar location will awaken the observer in you and allow you to re-connect with your voice through description of first impressions. Simply write in an unfamiliar place. Your local park. On the train to work. The cafeteria. Look around and observe. Write about what you see, feel, smell and hear. Jot down snippets of dialogue, descriptions of people’s faces, their body language, what they’re wearing etc. Write with all your senses alive. It’s a really refreshing thing to do when you feel your writing has gone stale.
4. Journal every day for a week
Journaling trains the writing muscle. Do a simple brain (& pain) dump. Get it off your chest, whatever it is that keeps you distracted and busy. Then remember your WHY. Get really clear on why you like to write. Remind yourself of the pleasure writing gives you. Then hone in on the WHAT. Do a simple mind map or brainstorm what it is you want from your writing.
5. Do a timed free writing sprint to a prompt
Set a timer and write until it rings. Don’t take your pen off the page or your fingers off the keyboard. Just keep moving. It doesn’t matter what you write. It’s about building momentum and getting back into the flow. This is the easiest way to push through the resistance. Below are some writing prompts to help you along. Here’s a post on how to generate your own writing prompts.
6. Read a book by a writer whose voice resonates
This always works for me. The words are all there, written by someone else, in a voice that sounds like it could be mine, but isn’t… before I know it, I am writing again to find that voice.
7. Join a writers group
This is one of the best things you can do to make yourself accountable. For many members of my writers group here in Hoi An, sharing our writing is one of the best parts. You learn a lot about your own writing by other’s reactions and comments. Reading your writing out aloud, or sharing it in an online group, is a way to step into your power as a writer. You’re owning your passion and your voice by sharing it.
If you can’t find a writers group in your local area, or if you’re too busy, join an online group. The Write Your Journey Community is a supportive and inspiring community of writers from all over the world and we love to hear and read new voices!
Get your writing mojo back today with these writing prompts
- Practice show-don’t-tell with this prompt: list 10 tastes you remember (ie. vegemite, sour apples, corked red wine, toothpaste, my first cigarette, my first cup of coffee, Sachertorte, the taste of fear, etc). Then choose one and write for 10 minutes about a memory you associate with that taste.
- Story starters are always fun. “We didn’t think it would be this way …” Complete the sentence and write for 10 minutes without stopping the first couple of paragraphs that follow this opening line.
- Journaling prompt: write for minutes about what you are grateful for. This is always a rewarding exercise and it can be a very effective daily prompt. Make a list of everything you are grateful for or answer these questions: What am I truly grateful for in my life? What is a mistake I am grateful for? What do I take for granted? What unique gifts and opportunities do I have in life?
- Photos & people watching: both are very rewarding. Give it a go right now. Tell me the story in the photo. Go for 10 minutes. Write without stopping. Let the story tell itself through you.
In the end it’s all about showing up. Whether it’s for your partner or your creativity. Give your writing practice the love and time it deserves.
Make a serious commitment. Tell yourself, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part I will remain committed to my passion.
Over to you. What’s keeping you from writing?
Join me in the comments.