Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lost Your Mojo?

There's been quite a few posts over at the Absolute Writers forum, one thread in particular that has quite a few writers complaining about lack of interest in their WIPs--lack of confidence--no validation--zero spark--out of ideas--stuck/blocked--discouraged, thinking about giving up and other negative statements that run the gamut. Many of them haven't been published or gone through the torturous submission ritual. This is a pretty common occurrence, given the fact that writing is a thankless pursuit that pays nothing upfront and requires endless hours at the keyboard. People wonder why they even began to punch plastic and spray pixels across the screen. Yet, they grudgingly admit that it's the Love of writing that spurs them on. So how did they lose the love? Well, seeing as how writing is considered a hobby or a part-time endeavor, it's easy to put the blame on it and cast it aside and then wallow in self-doubt. 

Bad breath, bad luck, the stars not in proper alignment, we'll offer up any excuse to explain our displeasure and all the pain that authoring a book can throw at us. But if we could turn back the clock and recapture that moment of euphoria when the idea struck and we hit the keys in a white-hot fever, we'd really realize that it wasn't the story that changed or suddenly felt flat or uninspired; it was our attitude that changed. Our confidence plummeted because we allowed it to happen. Self-doubts began to creep in and take over our mindset. Once we'd let a few doubts in it was like uncorking the flood gates. The flood came and we became awash in nothing but self-ridicule and negativity.

Stuck somewhere in the narrative jungle without a machete? 

Do this: back up a dozen or so pages on the manuscript and read through it up until the point you stopped or hang-fired. See if you can get back in the rhythm--find that pace. Try a chapter. Hell, go back to the very beginning if you need to and see if you can pick up that spark again. Recognize any of your writing that really had some punch? Good or great dialog? Excellent characterization, tone, mood or atmosphere? I'm sure you'll see it--you just have to look for it. How can this help? It shows you what you've done right--not wrong. These are the highlights of your prose--the parts of the story that kept you going.

Have some beta readers go over what you've written. Ask them if they see any strong points in your style/voice, or anything that pops in a good way. You don't need to know any of the rough spots at this point. What you need is a little validation, kind of a pat on the shoulder for a job well done. Take the positive comments to heart. Let it feed your ego a little, just enough to know that you don't suck and your story far from blows. There's probably nothing major wrong.

If you're convinced that your manuscript is dismal failure, try another idea and see how far you get. If you've got something else eating at you that feels better, try and get it out of your system. But I can tell you from experience what is just about ready to happen. You'll plow ahead on that new idea only to get hung up worse than you did with the first project. I can't tell you how many 50-page novels I have in my database. I've lost track. They got there because I went through fits of indecisiveness--bouts of procrastination. Inevitably, I ended up right back on that first story, determined to hammer through that brick wall. Know why? Because that damn new idea had less legs than the other story! 

Are you stuck in a scene that seems flat or static? No action? Why not leave a little hanger or red herring and transit out of that scene. How about making that chapter a short one? That way you can change your subject matter, swap POVs or start a new hook. There's always a way out of a tight spot without abandoning the project. It starts with a simple paragraph. And then you follow it up with another and another until you have a page. A page is progress.

Now, if it really seems hopeless and you're convinced that everything you write is steaming shit, put that story in the cornfield for now. For now. Write some short stories or poems and submit them until hell won't have it. Try flash fiction if you haven't before. Get published. Get that hash mark on your sleeve. The minute you realize that someone is willing to pay you for something is the day you'll wake up and understand that your efforts were not wasted. If that's the validation you need, then go after it in a white hot fever. Use it as ego ammo to blast those doubts out of your head. It can be the first credit in your resume and nothing can be more official than that! 

Click to open expanded view

Welcome to The War Gate, a paranormal romance/thriller with a time-travel twist.

“This was a solidly written tale with a trace of fantasy and complex thought used in defining the concept of leaping from one time gate to the next—excellent job of structuring.”
Terrie G, Bitten by Books, 4 out of 5.

“The War Gate is a captivating book. Mystery, magic and the paranormal blend together in a perfect mix. I would thoroughly recommend this book to fantasy enthusiasts who also like romance.
Orcid, Aurora Reviews, 5 out of 5.

Tag Line: Through a miraculous conception, Avalon Labrador must give birth to herself before she is executed, to solve her husband’s murder and her own wrongful conviction.

When the reincarnated Avy Labrador is kicked out of her stepfather’s house on her 18th birthday, she has no idea that the man who raised her framed her mother to cover his murder so he could acquire a major software empire. Now, years later, with the help of her magician boyfriend, Sebastian, Avy is about to discover that her birth was otherworldly and for a purpose. The ancient Roman God Janus was so appalled by the heinous murder of Tom Labrador by his brother Drake that he opened up a War Gate.

Avy has received half of her mother’s soul light and half of a God’s essence. Her mission is to put the real killer behind bars. The only catch: she must learn to “Gate-Walk”, that’s time traveling to the layman. She soon finds out that she is a drunk driver on the space/time continuum super highway.

Just when she believes she has too much on her plate to contend with, she learns that she’s pegged the wrong man as the killer…her boyfriend is not who he appears to be…and Janus, the so-called God of new beginnings, doorways and gates, just might be the biggest conman and liar she has ever met.

The War Gate has a heavy mystery structure, as well as paranormal/magic and romance elements.

War Gate Author's Note: The antagonist character, Wax Man, is not for the squeamish. I warn you ahead of time that he is the most disgusting, vile creature/human you're ever likely to read about. Not for younger readers under 13


  1. Great advice! I know what it's like to struggle in obscurity.

  2. Yep, obscurity is my second-rental home.

  3. Good timing. I just wrote in my blog about losing, and regaining, my mojo. For me, the solution was to quit. In the subsequent vacuum, new ideas bubbled up better. Writer's block - it's an endless battle. :-)

  4. Yeah, Rob, I'm suffering through this now with a sequel for a publisher. And I'm finding it hard to find the time to lay down the pixels on this. Self-doubt creeping in and destroying my momentum and such. All I can do is pick at it every night with no set goal of word counts firmly rooted.

  5. Hang in there mate. Don't let the deadline blues get to you. You've written good advice. Take it.

  6. Yep, better follow the beam of my own flashlight. Good luck to you, too.