(by Hayley Jones)
Losing your writing mojo can happen at any time, but living through a pandemic doesn’t help. Whether you are struggling to feel a sense of connection with your writing or can’t write anything at all, try these tips to rekindle your enthusiasm.
1. Take care of the basics
Taking steps to improve your sleep, nutrition and physical fitness may seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose track of the basics when you are worrying about other things. Make time for things you enjoy and keep in touch with friends. Ensuring your health (physical and mental) is as good as possible means you will be in a better position to get your writing mojo back.
2. Read your favourites
Finding enthusiasm for writing starts with reading. Try re-reading your favourite books, reading new-to-you works by your favourite writers and immersing yourself in your favourite styles or genres. Seek out exciting new books you think you might enjoy. Return to childhood favourites you haven’t opened for years. Alternatively, try reading something completely different to your usual choices – even outside of your comfort zone – and see if that sparks your interest.
3. Seek out writers discussing writing
One of the few advantages of lockdown and social distancing is the plethora of online material generated by literary festivals. Search YouTube and festival websites for talks, interviews and debates which appeal to you. Similarly, reading books about writing can be helpful in reminding you why you want to write. Popular choices include: On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
4. Try an online writing course or workshop
Again, social distancing restrictions have forced offline providers, including Arvon, to offer online writing workshops, masterclasses, readings and courses, which means there is a lot of choice and many options which may not have been previously available or accessible to you. You may also like to check out existing online writing course providers, such as Writers HQ, for inspiration.
5. Connect with fellow writers
Exeter Writers meetings have moved to Zoom during the pandemic and have been invaluable, allowing members to keep in touch and providing a space to talk about writing with fellow writers. Many other writing groups are currently meeting online and there are permanent online writing groups for people who may struggle to attend physical meetings or meet likeminded writers in their local area. If joining a group isn’t your thing, or is impractical right now, try searching for Facebook groups, writing forums and writing hashtags on social media to see if any appeal.
6. Play with writing!
Use writing prompts and exercises to engage your playful side – the sillier the better! Search online for ‘fun writing exercises’, ‘whimsical writing prompts’ or whatever captures your imagination. Think about what first attracted you to creative writing and try to recreate that sense of curiosity. Write in different styles, especially if you have never considered experimenting with a particular format. For example, write limericks and haikus if you usually stick to prose. The point is to approach your writing practice from a different angle, regardless of whether it feels frivolous or stupid.
7. Give it two minutes
When things are really tough, give yourself permission to stop writing after two minutes. This is an adaptation of a popular strategy for sticking to a physical exercise routine: if you force yourself to do an activity for two minutes, you will probably keep going after the time elapses. Write whatever comes into your head, without judging the result. The goal is to create a routine, not to spend two minutes berating yourself for not producing a masterpiece. Alternatively, give yourself the goal of writing a small number of words (no more than 25). You can repeat this strategy multiple times a day, but the main objective is to get yourself writing on a regular basis so you can build up some momentum.
8. Accept your struggles
Fighting your struggles wastes time and energy. Chances are you have taken this route in the past, or even right now, only to end up feeling worse about yourself and your writing. Accepting your experience doesn’t mean doing nothing to change it; acceptance means acknowledging that you are finding writing difficult at present and ensuring you set goals in line with your current situation. Stretch yourself, but don’t set a huge challenge if it’s likely to leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Observe and celebrate any progress you make, no matter how small or insignificant. Perhaps you need to take a break from writing, or a break from pressuring yourself to write more/faster/better. Often, when you accept your struggle and stop the relentless search for your writing mojo, it will return when you least expect.