I Lost My Writing Mojo

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I’ve lost my writing mojo, and it’s been gone for a while.

It’s not that I’m short of ideas. I have pages and pages full of scribbled notes for stories I want to write, and stories that I genuinely feel excited about. I’m just not having fun writing them.

Since I finished my novel in February and started querying it, I’ve felt pretty flat. You can read more about that here. I’m lacking direction in my writing journey, even though in my mind I know exactly where I want to go…

  • I want to post here consistently.
  • I want to start submitting to short story and flash fiction competitions.
  • I want to have a bash at selling my short fiction to publications.

And I have reams and reams of story concepts to pen down for all of these goals, but I can’t get the little bastards on the page. Well, I can, but it feels like pulling teeth.

To be fair, writing stories to post here isn’t too much of a problem. I genuinely have fun doing so. It’s writing for other potential platforms that I’m having trouble with.

But I think I know where the problem lies. It’s the worry that I won’t be writing the right kinds of stories.

Writing for me versus writing for others

When I post my writing here, I know that it’s a right fit for my platform because it’s my platform. I’ve built a “brand” (I guess), which is simply a reflection of the stuff I want to write. I’ve created a theme or style for this website, and I can easily create stories which fit in with it because I know my own style better than anything else.

The idea of submitting to other platforms is daunting because I have to meet styles, themes and brands established by other people. It feels as though my stories have to be a certain way to be accepted.

I mean, naturally, I’m not going to submit a story about a singing dog to a writing competition for romance authors; I’m going to seek out publications and contests which clearly look for stories like mine. But at the end of the day, I’m not creating something solely for me and my audience; I’m creating it for someone else and their audience.

And that’s wonderful! That’s exactly why I want to submit to competitions and anthologies and all the rest of it; I want to expand my reach and snare the interests of new people. However, in some ways I feel like there’s a bit of pressure to bend my writing style to fit into what I think it should be in order to have my submissions accepted.

I feel compelled to write a story just like last year’s winner of such-and-such competition, or to write a flash fiction piece that’s a carbon copy of the one on the homepage of such-and-such magazine.

The trouble is, if I tailor the things I write to what I think is expected or to what seems to be successful, I’m going to be writing stuff that doesn’t feel like my own. And that totally takes the fun out of it because I’m not writing what I really want to write.

Rediscovering my mojo

I suppose I just need to write what I feel excited about – all those fun little ideas floating around in my various notebooks – and forget about which publications may or may not accept them. I need to get stuck into writing for fun again, instead of for the sake of ticking off some goals. I need to get my teeth stuck into a story which I’m just passionate about telling, without worrying whether it fits in any boxes.

‘Cos at the end of the day, if it really doesn’t tick the boxes of other publications, it will tick my own. And if every publication under the sun rejects it, I can just whack it up on here instead, where I make the rules.

Write. For. Fun. That’s the point. It’s so simple; why didn’t I come to this realisation weeks ago?

It’s good this blogging malarkey. Therapy for a mind that is constantly overthinking and in conflict with itself. I think I’ve managed to talk myself out of a month-long funk.

Get back here, mojo. We’ve got writing to do.

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3 thoughts on “I Lost My Writing Mojo

  1. One way to square the circle is to write for yourself first, then ask for comments afterwards (I’ve started using Scribophile a bit for this, and it’s useful). I think this is what Stephen King called writing with the door closed vs writing with the door open – if you try to write your first drafts with other people in mind it can be paralyzing as you constantly second guess, so starting by writing for yourself gets something on the page at least! Then you can decide whether / how to take others’ comments on board (and it’s quite freeing to realise you can ignore them sometimes!). And of course you’ll know you always have a home for those stories that for whatever reason don’t fit the bill elsewhere.

    Good luck with the writing 🙂

  2. I think you should give yourself a little bit of “me time” and have some breaks from such overwhelming goals. One part of you may want to achieve everything but the other might want to take it slowly, or a burnout will force you to a halt. Striking a balance between the two is a continuous learning process and I wish you well on that journey.

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