What’s Blocking Your Writing Mojo?

Every writer inevitably finds themselves stuck in a writing rut. Sometimes the writing rut is particularly painful and prolonged and your journey to a finished work in progress resembles a family of raccoons excavating your backyard, digging their way to the inner core of the Earth.

What causes these ‘rutty’ moments? Here are a few examples that may sound familiar to you; those times when it all seems too hard and the lure of the couch and the latest Netflix fad seems much more appealing than replacing the thousands of usages of “was” in your manuscript, thinking of new ways to describe a beating heart, and re-re-reworking your chapter breakdown.

You Feel Like Crap

For more than the first three months of my pregnancy, I had no motivation or energy to do anything at all, whatsoever. Socialising? Forget it. Exercise? Don’t make me laugh. Working full time was a struggle. I was going to bed at 8.00pm every night, exhausted. My writing time normally starts at 8.00pm. But mentally, creatively and physically, I had nothing to give. Those three months were a write-off (not a write-on) where I achieved nothing. Thankfully, from Week 16 of my pregnancy I started to get some energy back.

Aside from the symptoms of pregnancy (which is a happy reason to feel sick and tired) writers (like anyone else) may be suffering from any number of conditions that cause them pain or to feel ill. From the common cold to much more serious illnesses such as chronic and/or mental illness, writers may struggle to function in their day-to-day lives let alone keep up a writing habit.

Health and wellbeing is important. We need to listen to our bodies. If our body is telling us to rest, we should listen and if necessary, seek professional medical assistance. Pushing yourself beyond what is reasonable will only result in further damage to your health and wellbeing. Sometimes, your writing does need to wait until you feel better.

You’re Too Busy

You work 40 hours a week, you have to take your daughter to taekwondo and pick up your son from a friend’s house, you promised to fix the broken tap at your grandfather’s house, you have to organise Bonnie’s baby shower, you have to go grocery shopping/vacuum/paint the skirting boards/walk the dog, you have to watch the Royal Wedding – whatever it may be – 24 hours a day just isn’t enough time to do everything you need to do. And by the time you have done everything you need to do, you’re too exhausted to consider doing anything for yourself. The plot hole that needs patching in Chapter 19 will have to wait another day.

But then you realise you’ve left it so long that you can’t remember the details of what happens in Chapters 1–18 so there’s no way you can devise any kind of solution to fix that plot hole, which has now become a plot sinkhole that threatens to devour your entire manuscript.

You’re busy. We get it. That’s why there is a lot of information available about time management and courses on making time to write, including this one from the Australian Writers’ Centre. It’s a lot to do with making sacrifices (usually other hobbies, socialising and your favourite TV shows), disconnecting the Internet, schedules, writing in short bursts (even 10 minutes) and asking someone to babysit for a few hours.

This is undoubtedly something I’m going to need to learn more about once the baby is born and my concept of “busy” takes on an entirely new meaning. See you in a few years, guys. (Kidding, hopefully).

You’re Full of Self-Doubt

I’ve entered several writing competitions with little to no success. The other day, I was wallowing in such a pit of self-doubt that I genuinely considered the possibility that my shortlisting for the Flash 500 Novel Opening & Synopsis Competition in 2016 was an admin error their part. After all, I haven’t had any success with my manuscript since. Perhaps there was another entry called The Princess Murders and they got them mixed up? They really meant to shortlist the other one?

“But what’s the point when everything I write is total crap?” I hear you moan. “Am I wasting hours, days, weeks, months, years, DECADES of my life on my writing pursuits? Will anyone ever care, other than me, whether or not my main character has a fulfilling character arc?”

It’s a self-indulgent whinge and we’re all entitled to a few of those every now and then. But then we need to snap out of it and get over it. You either want to be a writer or you don’t, yeah? Are you going to give up because your story wasn’t selected out of hundreds or thousands of other stories in some competition? No, you’re not. You’re going to keep going until you’ve made your story the best it can be. So get over yourself and go make that happen.

You know, once you’ve had a few Nurofen to manage that blistering back pain, caught up on Picnic at Hanging Rock and reorganised your underwear drawer. Then you’ll sort out Chapter 19 for good. Get to it!

What sucks your writing mojo? Let me know in the comments below.

Every writer inevitably finds themselves stuck in a writing rut. Sometimes the writing rut is particularly painful and prolonged and your journey to a finished work in progress resembles a family of raccoons excavating your backyard, digging their way to the inner core of the Earth.

What causes these ‘rutty’ moments? Here are a few examples that may sound familiar to you; those times when it all seems too hard and the lure of the couch and the latest Netflix fad seems much more appealing than replacing the thousands of usages of “was” in your manuscript, thinking of new ways to describe a beating heart, and re-re-reworking your chapter breakdown.

You Feel Like Crap

For more than the first three months of my pregnancy, I had no motivation or energy to do anything at all, whatsoever. Socialising? Forget it. Exercise? Don’t make me laugh. Working full time was a struggle. I was going to bed at 8.00pm every night, exhausted. My writing time normally starts at 8.00pm. But mentally, creatively and physically, I had nothing to give. Those three months were a write-off (not a write-on) where I achieved nothing. Thankfully, from Week 16 of my pregnancy I started to get some energy back.

Aside from the symptoms of pregnancy (which is a happy reason to feel sick and tired) writers (like anyone else) may be suffering from any number of conditions that cause them pain or to feel ill. From the common cold to much more serious illnesses such as chronic and/or mental illness, writers may struggle to function in their day-to-day lives let alone keep up a writing habit.

Health and wellbeing is important. We need to listen to our bodies. If our body is telling us to rest, we should listen and if necessary, seek professional medical assistance. Pushing yourself beyond what is reasonable will only result in further damage to your health and wellbeing. Sometimes, your writing does need to wait until you feel better.

You’re Too Busy

You work 40 hours a week, you have to take your daughter to taekwondo and pick up your son from a friend’s house, you promised to fix the broken tap at your grandfather’s house, Bonnie is relying on you to organise her baby shower, you have to go grocery shopping/vacuum/paint the skirting boards/walk the dog, the Royal Wedding is on – whatever it may be – 24 hours a day just isn’t enough time to do everything you need to do. And by the time you have done everything you need to do, you’re too exhausted to consider doing anything for yourself. The plot hole that needs patching in Chapter 19 will have to wait another day.

But then you realise you’ve left it so long that you can’t remember the details of what happens in Chapters 1–18 so there’s no way you can devise any kind of solution to fix that plot hole, which has now become a plot sinkhole that threatens to devour your entire manuscript.

You’re busy. We get it. That’s why there’s lots of information available about time management and courses on making time to write, including this one from the Australian Writers’ Centre. It’s a lot to do with making sacrifices (usually other hobbies, socialising and your favourite TV shows), disconnecting the Internet, scheduling, writing in short bursts (even 10 minutes) and asking someone to babysit for a few hours.

This is undoubtedly something I’m going to need to learn more about once the baby is born and my concept of “busy” takes on an entirely new meaning.

You’re Full of Self-Doubt

I’ve entered several writing competitions with little to no success. The other day, I was wallowing in such a pit of self-doubt that I genuinely considered the possibility that my shortlisting for the Flash 500 Novel Opening & Synopsis Competition in 2016 was an admin error on their part. After all, I haven’t had any success with my manuscript since. Perhaps there was another entry called The Princess Murders and they got them mixed up? They really meant to shortlist the other one?

“But what’s the point when everything I write is total crap?” I hear you moan. “Am I wasting hours, days, weeks, months, years, DECADES of my life on my writing pursuits? Will anyone ever care, other than me, whether or not my main character has a fulfilling character arc?”

It’s a self-indulgent whinge and we’re all entitled to a few of those every now and then. But then we need to snap out of it and get over it. You either want to be a writer or you don’t, yeah? Are you going to give up because your story wasn’t selected out of hundreds or thousands of other stories in some competition? No, you’re not. You’re going to keep going until you’ve made your story the best it can be. So get over yourself and go make that happen.

You know, once you’ve had a few Nurofen to manage that blistering back pain, caught up on Picnic at Hanging Rock and reorganised your underwear drawer. Then you’ll sort out Chapter 19 for good. Get to it!

What drains you of your motivation to write? Let me know in the comments below. 


14 thoughts on “What’s Blocking Your Writing Mojo?

  1. Awesome post Alyssa. I get drained of motivation when I try and juggle everything. I’m pretty bad about asking for help and usually everything is on the brink of going crazy before I cave. Writing is always the first thing to go! Other times it’s a lack of self belief but I;m working on that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sam. Sometimes it all gets too much, doesn’t it? And because writing time is probably still seen as a ‘luxury’ (especially when we aren’t making money from it) it is often the first to go. I’ve enjoyed seeing your writing photos lately so I hope that means you’ve had lots of time to work on Rosie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem Alyssa, I always enjoy you posts 🙂 The real hard work is about to start with Rosie, I’ve set myself a deadline for the first draft! I want to get it finished by my birthday in August. It’s a big ask but I’m committed lol

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your pregnancy, Alyssa! That’s awesome news 😊
    As for my writing mojo getting blocked, I would have to say it’s usually one of two things.
    Either I’m going through something difficult personally and there’s no mental bandwidth for writing, or there’s a major problem with the story – and stepping back from it until I figure out what the problem actually is, is the best plan of attack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marie! Your two blockages also sound familiar to me. They would have been good to include in my blog post! I’ve had two miscarriages in the past two years and absolutely couldn’t write at all during thise times. And for months and months now there’s been a major problem with my story and I’ve just written around it, and left it as a big gaping hole to fix later … I hope that any potential blockages leave you alone so that you can continue your writing journey in peace from this point forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sorry to hear about your miscarriages – I’ve been there too, and there’s no way I would have been able to write at that time.
        I’ve since learnt about a technique called the ‘ten year composting rule’. It’s useful for non-fiction, where particularly painful events are left alone for at least ten years before writing about them, but then, I’ve found tweaking real-life scenarios into fictional ones therapeutic as well (just not on the really bad days when it’s too hard to even get out of bed!)
        Good luck with the solving your story’s problem – I’m sure given enough time, it will work itself out!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Marie. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve also experienced loss.
        I will have to look into the ‘ten year composting rule’! I’ve not heard of it before! However, I think I prefer your other suggestion of tweaking real-life scenarios into fictional ones. I think that could work really well, as a short story, or for a character in a longer form novel.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your pregnancy, Alyssa! Good to hear you’re getting some energy back to focus on your writing. It’s hard work when you’re pregnant or have kids that’s for sure! I had no writing mojo for the first ten months after I had my daughter and then suddenly overnight my mind cleared and I had this overwhelming urge to start writing. Thank god! It keeps me sane 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I’m expecting once baby is born that writing may have to take a bit of a backseat for a little while … as baby will be a new priority! I’m hoping to get these rewrites done before I’m due. It’s good to hear that the writing mojo comes back, even if it does dwindle for a little while after having a baby. Hope your writing is going well!

      Like

  4. Hi Alyssa, you really hit the nail on the head with this post! I feel like you described my last three months (or has it been five?!). I’m back now. Feeling less crap, telling self-doubt to shove it and as for busy, well, that one isn’t going to change, but I can work around it. Let’s do this!

    Like

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