When Writing Sucks, Here's How to Get Your Mojo Back

Writing and publishing are hard. Here's how to get your inspiration back.

Rejection sucks. Writer’s block sucks. Burnout sucks. And yet, they’re all part of the job. Below are some super quick and simple exercises designed to make you feel creative, capable, and alive.

I challenge you to DO these things, even if they seem silly or small. If you try them and feel nothing, then and only then, are you allowed roll your eyes and call me lame. Okay?

Go for some quick results.

  • Make your bed in the morning. It’s a crazy simple task that takes maybe fifteen seconds, but the visual impact is huge. You’ll feel productive for the rest of the day.
  • Even more dramatic visual results can be knocked out in a weekend by painting a room. You’ll see the fruit of your labor day after day, and if you get lucky, the new color will also provide inspiration in and of itself.
  • Build up some strength. That sounds like a long-term plan, but if you focus on one small thing, you’ll be blown away with your progress. I recommend the 100 pushups app. Sure, it’ll take six weeks to be doing 100, but early gains are astounding. Even if you start off barely squeezing out two pushups (that was me), a few days later you’ll be up to 10. You’re a badass!

Do something creative that is unoriginal and not your thing.

The trick here is that you can’t care about the outcome and absolutely won’t feel pressured to perform.  These small artistic acts will access your brain’s creative network, letting it play, not work.

  • Visit one of those places that let’s you paint ceramic figurines or make stained glass mosaics.
  • Color inside the lines with an adult coloring book.
  • Cross-stitch by pattern.
  • Build a model airplane step-by-step.

Physically play like a child.

When my kids make me do these kinds of things, I’m often caught off guard by moments of exhilaration. The possibilities here are limitless. Just make sure your choice is active and real, not digital. For example, don’t just laugh passively at a Youtube video.

  • Swing on swing. Believe it or not, this is really fun. You probably just forgot.
  • Get into a squirt-gun fight.
  • Walk on a balance beam.
  • Do a silly dance you remember from childhood. Dance to a Wiggles song, or rock out to a cheesy pop song you once loved.
  • Bounce in a bouncy house or on a trampoline.
  • See how far you can jump.
  • Ride on a carousel.

Do something that is jarringly out of your routine, and do it alone.

  • Have a meal in a neighborhood you’ve never set foot in and that is totally unlike your own. Whether you choose a foreign enclave, a small-town market, a sketchy urban dive, or a painfully hip bistro, make sure you’re at least a little bit out of your comfort zone. Then look and listen and take in as many details as you can.
  • If you’re a night owl, wake up and watch the sunrise from an inspiring location.
  • If you go to bed early (hello parenting), head out on your own late at night, even if it’s just to the grocery store.

Do affirmations, even if you think they’re bullshit.

Corny, I know. But the thing is, they work...if you do them right. Don’t tell yourself vague and delusional ideas about how wonderful you are. You’re too smart to fall for that. Instead, design them by listening to your own negative self talk. Instead of saying, “I suck at character development,” say, “I’m working hard at character development by doing such and such.” Instead of saying, “nobody likes my writing,” name someone who does. Instead of succumbing to fear, tell yourself, “I may be scared to death, but I'm doing this anyway.” That’s something to be proud of. As long as you're spending time each day on self defamations (I know you are), you have no excuse not to practice affirmations. Wake up and start the day off by reminding yourself why you rock.