I know what you're thinking about now. Where the hell have you been? Did you slip off the face of the Earth? Join the witness protection program? What's the deal?
The answer is not anything too exciting, really. I've just been enjoying these last days with my son before he leaves for college, and trying to soak up the ones with my youngest as well, as his imminent departure has shown me how quickly those moments fly by. Admittedly, it has been a wonderful distraction. It has helped me ignore that for the last year I have completely lost my mojo somewhere under the couch and I can't seem to find it, like a lost sock or my cell phone when it's on silent.
Trying to write when the mojo is not there is like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn't work. Believe me, I tried. I've had many great ideas, but figuring out how to turn them into full-on stories has remained elusive. And it seemed like every time I would get a burst of creativity, some life event would happen that would pull my attention away like a squirrel to something shiny. But then, this summer, something amazing happened. A friend was working on a TV pilot, and offered me the opportunity to sit in the writer's room and watch as it unfolded from outline to screenplay. What was supposed to be an afternoon sitting in as a casual observer turned into a week of hands-on writing, brainstorming and learning more than I ever could have in a classroom, and as a result, this Stella got her groove back.
It's amazing how a little dose of creativity, even if it's not for your own work, can go a long way in infusing you with unbridled passion to dive in anew. I left that experience ready to tackle the stories I'd been kicking around, to sit down and outline them and see what was there, and to rediscover my writing routine and make things happen.
Although I'm not going as an actual attendee this year, I am going to the SCBWI Writer's Conference this weekend, and am looking forward to being in the company of "my people". There is something so inspiring and motivating about being around people who love to do what you do, and to hear their stories from the trenches and know that you are not alone. Though at times it can feel intimidating as you see others rise the ladder to publication while you are still treading water in the kiddie pool, writers are a really accepting, encouraging bunch. I never fail to leave there ready to roll, confident in my abilities, and I am hoping this time will be no exception.
The most important thing to remind yourself of if you find you hit a writing slump is: It's not over. You are still a writer. There is a definitive ebb and flow to the process, and you have to embrace it. And you will write far more bad stories than good ones, especially in the beginning. The most important thing is to keep writing. And if you lose that mojo, don't stop looking for it. It's probably just under the couch cushion with the loose change and the stray M&M's.