Where does the mojo go, anyway, when it decides to leave? If only I had the answer to this one. Then we could track it down and drag it back, kicking and screaming, into our brains.

I do know that creativity picks the darnedest times to just up and run away from home, though. It particularly likes to flee when a deadline is looming, or I finally have a chunk of time all to myself to actually write without distractions or interruptions.

It’s one of the hardest parts of being a contracted author with deadlines stacked up for months or years into the future. It’s also not something authors often complain about in public. Seriously, who wants to listen to anyone bitch about how many deadlines they have when the rest of us would love to have just one of those same deadlines? It’s akin to celebrities griping about how rich and famous they are.

Here’s the thing, though. Deadlines do stack up. They do exert tremendous pressure upon authors, and they do contribute to making creativity on demand difficult to achieve. Life also stacks up. Stress and distraction and other commitments suck the joy and creativity out of writing as surely as missing mojo does.

It’s not a half bad idea to impose an artificial deadline upon yourself and see how it feels before you accept a publishing contract. Pick a date a reasonable amount of time in the future by which your book MUST be done–as in drafted, revised, edited, and polished. DONE. Then, get writing.

If you make that deadline, turn around immediately and set another deadline for yourself. But just for fun, make this one a little tighter. To the point of being a bit uncomfortable and requiring discipline from yourself to make.

If you make that one, just for fun, set a godawful deadline for yourself that will force you to grab every spare moment to write, that forces sacrifices and productivity even on the worst days, that will keep you up at night fretting over what comes next and how to fix the flaws in the scenes you just wrote.

I’m not saying that all writing is miserable. Far from it. But there is value in teaching yourself to hang on to your love of writing and your ability to be creative in the midst of deadlines, distractions, and pressure. Even if you’re self-published, the advent of the pre-order button for everybody has now shared the deadline phenomenon with millions more writers.

Here’s the reality: Deadlines do happen. Mojo does take off for parts unknown. Mojo or not, successful authors have to find a way to write in spite of their missing mojo. Writing in that mode sucks. But do it anyway.

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