I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my…writing mojo?

Ok, so I really just wanted to use that as a blog title. You can’t blame me.

But on a serious note. What do you do when it’s just not working?

Some people delete–anything from a page to an entire book–and start again.
Some people cry.
Some people lie on the floor.
Some people glare at the book.
Some people bribe the book.

I tend to bribe, then glare, eat cookies, send my agent panicky emails, stare at the screen… I’ve hinted a few times that the latest book, which I’ll call SUPREME CREEPY CUPCAKE (I have no idea why), has been mistreating me.

But something has happened! The tides have shifted, and the change has come from none other than the dreaded, the fierce…the SYNOPSIS. That’s right. I faced down the synopsis. And SURVIVED.

Why are synopses so chock full of SUCK?

Linda Grimes said it best: it sucks to try to sum up a whole novel in a few pages, while retaining the flavor of the novel. If a query letter is like a 30-second ad for a book, I guess the synopsis would be an infomercial.

And yet, SOMEHOW, I not only survived the ordeal, but it might have saved my book (O_o)? I was lost and beginning to suspect that while SUPREME CREEPY CUPCAKE was chock full of creepy, it might not be chock full of PLOT. Writing the synopsis helped assure me that it did indeed have plot, buried among the weeds, and helped me fine tune the overall pacing and figure out where I was floundering and why.


But I still recommend lying on the floor with a box of cookies. And some Lady Gaga.

Do you have any tricks to beat the block? The lack of plot? The derailed idea?
Do you delete and start again? Open new word documents and/or windows?
Do you cut all your pages into itty bits and rearrange?



23 thoughts on “I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my…writing mojo?

  1. Camryn Rhys says:

    Ah yes. I always turn to Lady Gaga. She is the supreme blower of my mind block.

    • veschwab says:

      I seriously blast her EVERY TIME I need a plot-free dance break. Sometimes you just have to SHAKE IT OUT. BAD ROMANCE STYLE.

  2. Annika says:

    Haha. When I get stuck, I give up.

    This is why I am a sucky writer.

    • veschwab says:

      Awww, no, I have a hard time believing that.

      I give up, too. I just guilt myself into coming back (or my agent does :p) But I guess writers are inherently masochistic.

  3. Jim Hutchins says:

    I always have multiple irons in the fire. When I get stuck with one project, then I switch to another and work on that for a while.

    • veschwab says:

      I can’t do that, unfortunately. When I work on a project, I have to be entirely focused on THAT project. Too many irons in the fire and I wouldn’t linger on any of them long enough to finish!

  4. I walk my dog or dance/bounce when it’s a good feeling stall. When it’s a bad stall I writhe on the floor and delete everything.

    Honestly, though, when I’m stuck what I really need is time. To step back, read a book I love, and let my imagination take a little break.

    Sadly this doesn’t work with a deadline.

    • veschwab says:

      Going for a walk is my first defense.

      And how dare those imaginations demand TIME?? Don’t they know how hard it is to procure??

  5. Kait Nolan says:

    Oh this is so hard to decide on! Usually when I get seriously stuck it’s because I’ve taken a wrong turn. Whether that’s a plot point or because I’m working on a book that is out of order in a series (which is what happened to me most recently–I realized there was an important story that hadn’t yet been told that had to come before the WIP I was working on). All in all, I have to go back to wherever it last worked and re-envision. Thankfully I’m very good at considering alternatives and don’t bat too much of an eye at deleting large tracts of stuff. Sometimes it really helps to have a nice, new, blank Word document without all the distraction of the plot notes that came before.

    And of course there is chocolate.

    • veschwab says:

      This is a fabulous response and you’re so right about the wrong turns. Books can veer off and we have to steer them back. I always open a new word document. Right now I have…8 word docs open, for one book :p

  6. Sometimes going for a walk helps.

    I’ve also been known to lie on the floor and listen to music. I don’t know why lying on the floor with the music on helps. But it has in the past.

    • veschwab says:

      What is it about the floor? I first heard of the habit from my CP, Myra, and so I tried it, and it really does help. Maybe it makes us feel grounded :p

  7. I’m stuck right now, so naturally I’ve come to read your blog post to help me get unstuck.

    Well, first of all, I enjoy the “delete” method, but I don’t enjoy actually deleting. I get rid of whatever I’m looking at somehow, but save it elsewhere so I can look back at it later to make sure it was actually bad. Scrivener has helped supremely in this because I can take Snapshots and then delete the whole thing and look at a blank screen again. Then, if I need to, I can refer back to what I deleted.

    I often give up. I start to read something, or watch something, or take a nap, and then return to whatever is giving me trouble later. Sometimes I read essays about writer’s block to get me out of it. Sometimes that doesn’t work. Often, I just go take a shower or something to clear my head. Most of my best work happens in the shower. Or right before I go to sleep.

    Nothing seems to work on any regular basis, but luckily, I have many methods to cope.

    • veschwab says:

      I do the same thing, saving “deleted” bits in other documents for later.

      And a variety of methods is best, lest one not work for you on a given day 😉

  8. Brendan says:

    I like to focus on the stuff that isn’t “necessary” to the book: the off-stage lives of the secondary characters, the unwritten backstory, the sequel germinating in my head. When I sketch these things out they inevitably inform the MS and often reveal a way past the block. A lot of the subplot and the relationships in my WIP grew out of this kind of daydreaming.

    • veschwab says:

      Ah, I’ve totally done that, picking and choosing scenes that aren’t vital. The pressure feels lessened, and yet, you’re right, I almost always end up using the scenes and learning from them.

  9. What I do isn’t ground-breaking or magical: I keep writing, and I listen to my instincts.

    I’ve begun to get better at figuring out if something’s derailed, even if I don’t quite know why, so instead of pushing further in the wrong direction, I copy the Bad!Words into a separate file and start the section over.

    I’ll keep doing that until I figure out the right direction. “Just-keep-writing” seems to beat the block more quickly than sitting and thinking about it, at least for me.

    • veschwab says:

      The separate file technique is a great one, and I do the same. I might get up to 4-5 separate files while I try to get a book back on track.

  10. Linda G. says:

    Aw, thanks for the mention, bb. 🙂

    One thing I do when the mojo fails me to the extent that chocolate isn’t working: take it to my special group of sparkly writing buds. Sometimes just releasing the angst in a safe place breaks the clog in my brain, and allows something to trickle through.

  11. Kristin says:

    After I finish running errands today, I am seriously going to come home and write a synopsis for my WIP. Because I have somehow lost my writing mojo as well and I WANT IT BACK. *sob*

    Thanks for the tip! 😀

    • veschwab says:

      Curse that mojo! It’s such a slippery thing. And the synopsis really did help me, so I hope it aids you!!

  12. I had to stop myself in the middle of writing my synopsis, it was so hard! I’ve already finished my book and my query but that thing has slowed me down. I’m off to draw my characters I guess.

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