It’s four years now since my first novel, The Silk Romance, was published, and I’ve been writing in some form or another pretty much every day since then. Do I write because I love to write? No, not always. To be honest, sometimes writing feels like a great big chore. This isn’t helped by the fact that I suffer from bouts of depression. I write feel-good books in which everything ends happily. It’s very hard to put yourself in this frame of mind when everything looks black.
Today’s Round Robin topic from author Robin Courtright comes at a good time, when I’m struggling to get on with my next book:
When you are stumped on moving a plot line forward, what do you do to reinvigorate your imagination?
This is a great question and almost as difficult to answer as “Where do you get your ideas from?” Funnily enough I enjoy working on the plot of a book (maybe because it doesn’t involve any actual writing! :) ) If there are loop-holes in my plot or if I think that the characters’ motives just aren’t believable, then I see this as a challenge – a bit like doing a crossword puzzle. When I solve the problem, it’s incredibly satisfying.
Here’s an example of solving a plot problem. In my romantic suspense A Year of Light and Shadows, Lizzie Smith is kidnapped by Scottish aristocrat Lord Falmire. Falmire is keeping Lizzie prisoner until her bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, brings him the diamond he’s been guarding at Edinburgh Castle. Now (apart from making the whole story believable) I had a dilemma with this plot-line. When Léon discovers Lizzie has been kidnapped, wouldn’t he do what any sane person would do – go straight to the police? This problem exercised my brain for a long while, until I discovered something about Léon that came as as much of a shock to me as it did to Lizzie. It was a revelation about Léon’s character that changed his whole relationship with Lizzie. I really enjoyed working on this whole puzzle, and Léon is still my favourite hero of mine.
How to rediscover your writing mojo
Thinking of what I’m going to write is the fun part. It’s very different to actually sitting down and writing. I know there are some writers who say they love nothing better than the act of writing and they are astonished that there are some authors who don’t enjoy it. I’m with P.G. Wodehouse on this one. When asked how he wrote, he said, “I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit.”
As someone who is constantly trying to force herself to sit down and write, instead of doing all the other million and one things that are more interesting, here are some of the ways I’ve found over the years that have helped me keep my writing mojo going:
One: Just do it. This one is my number one tip, and the one that works for me most often. It’s amazing how your brain starts to engage as soon as you begin to type. If you’re trying to move your story forward, just write what seems to come logically and what you imagine would happen to these characters in a given situation. You can always go back and edit, but you can’t edit a blank page.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Two: Deadlines help. To let you into a secret – I didn’t want to write this post, and I’ve been putting it off all week. Now I’ve been forced to sit down and write it because I have a deadline. The words have flowed, and writing this has actually made me think about the project I’m working on at the moment, and why I’m struggling with it. Instead of being a chore, it’s actually turned into a useful exercise.
Three: If you really can’t face the keyboard, take yourself out for a walk and empty your mind. This is what I do when I’m just too depressed to even contemplate writing a word, and when my brain seems dull and everything I write is pointless. I’m very lucky because I have a dog, and so every day I’m forced to walk, rain or shine. The brilliant thing about dogs is that every morning is a new and exciting adventure. I see the world through my dog’s eyes and when I watch her racing round, wild with joy, I come home feeling more inspired.
Four: Often my own lack of writing mojo is down to lack of confidence. I feel I’m just incapable of writing anything good any more. I’m lucky again in that I’ve already had a few books published, to some really nice reviews. This probably sounds massively egotistic, but when I’m down and feel I’m just a useless writer and no one in their right mind would want to read this drivel, I take a look at some old reviews. I just went to look for some quotes to illustrate this paragraph, and found one reviewer called The Silk Romance “A fabulous read“, and another called it “A captivating novel“. Thank you so much, reviewers. Your lovely words make me think it’s worth writing another book.
Five: Talk about your story with someone. When I first started writing, my stories were all in my head, and quite often I’d drive myself into a dead end. Nowadays I find bringing my characters out into the open a massive help. My husband is particularly good at helping me move a story on. He takes it seriously, for a start, as though the characters are real. Just talking about the plot out loud helps me see where the storyline has become a little unbelievable, and just the act of discussing it gives me fresh ideas. It also helps to talk to author friends who write professionally. Once I’ve mentioned I’ve started a book, I feel under pressure (in a good way) to get on with finishing it, because my friends will ask me how I’ve been getting on. I can hardly say, “Actually, I haven’t felt much like writing,” because that response is a bit lame. Which leads me back to point number one – “Just do it!”
I’m looking forward to finding out what the other authors in the Round Robin have to say on this subject. Losing my writing mojo is something I often struggle with, and so I hope to find lots more tips. If you’d like to read on, please click on the links below!
Are you a writer? If so, what do you do when inspiration is gone? If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-137
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com