Did you know that the word mojo originally meant a charm or spell? These days it is used to define a sort of self confidence or self belief, as in, ‘I’ve lost my mojo!’ or alternatively, ‘I’ve got my mojo back!’
I did indeed ‘get my mojo back’ recently after hearing from an editor who is going to read one of my books. Only read, not publish, nothing promised at all, but it was enough to put me back on my writing track. I have to admit I’ve been neglecting things recently. I know I’m only letting myself down, but I’ve been making excuses not to write, and that’s not like me at all. Things have been busy and stressful, and somehow I forgot that writing actually makes me feel better. If I make time to write I feel less stressed, not more. I’m doing something that really fulfills me.
But we can’t rely on others to keep our mojo up. We have to motivate ourselves. It’s especially hard when you receive a rejection from a company you thought your work was perfect for, or when you check the results of a competition you were sure you’d do well in and fail to find your name. So what can you do to keep that optimism high and your writing full of energy and enthusiasm? Here’s a few tips. I will try to follow them myself too. Let’s see how we get on.
- Plan a writing routine. Try to do a little each day if you can, even if it’s only one sentence. It sounds silly, but if you can do one sentence you can go to bed thinking, ‘I did some writing today.’
- Think of yourself as a writer. Join a forum. Do some research. Buy yourself some fancy stationery. Stroke it if you like!
- If you haven’t already done so, make a mockup of the book you are working on. Make a cover by wrapping an old book in paper. Design the front and write a brilliant blurb on the back. Make up some outrageous recommendations. Then try to write the book that lives up to your claims.
- Make a long term plan. By Christmas you will have finished the first draft. By Easter you will have done the first edit. By next Christmas you will have submitted to agents or publishers. Now divide up those deadlines into smaller ones. Finish chapter. Work out plot problem. Write the tasks into your diary or calendar like any other task.
- Take part in a motivational exercise such as National Novel Writing Month (find it at nanowrimo.org). Or join a writer’s circle. You can find these online if you can’t get out or are nervous about joining a physical group. Look in yahoo groups.
- Pick a competition or event to launch or showcase your work. The Winchester Writers’ Conference in July allows you to meet up with editors and agents and show them your work. The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition closing in October is a great opportunity for debut writers.
- Remember that writing makes you happy.
Good luck and hold on tight to that mojo!