I made a realisation this week. I’m currently getting one good new novel idea a week at the moment. These are a little more than just seeds of ideas, but fully fledged with plots and characters and worldbuilding. I found myself thinking that if I could write a novel a week, then I’d be sorted. However, on a more serious note it got me thinking about my productivity, or rather… my current lack of it.

Years ago I volunteered for charity organisation and helped build up a very strong recruitment programme for local teams. I was focused and driven, taking ideas from sports psychology to build this really successful programme that I ended up beig asked to take nationally.
Years later, I built an incredibly successful website (independently valued at the peak of the internet boom at over $7million – I never saw any of that money). It is only in the years after that friends have admitted to me how they admired my dedication. I would turn up to visit on a weekend, laptop in tow and work for a couple of hours in their kitchen whilst everyone else played games, only joining in once everything was done.
Yet writing fiction has been a different beast. I stepped down from running the website to focus on my writing, and whilst it’s been worthwhile (after all I’ve been published and the reviews are great) there’s always been something nagging at me that I’m not as effective as I could be.
Part of that was the nature of change. I went from being a leader in my chosen field to unknown. I had many people tell me I was a fool for just walking away from the website and as a result that was always an external pressure that made me second guess where I wouldn’t have before. My vitiligo also severely knocked my confidence, in ways I’m only just starting to realise.
In short, I lost a lot of my mojo.
The last few months have been both physically and mentally tough. The leg is spending a few weeks without bandages at the moment before moving on to the next stage of treatment. As a result, I’ve had chance to show the scars and progress in person to a few friends and work colleagues who’ve only seen the occasional iPhone snap until now. One thing that’s common in all of them is watching their eyes go wide as they see the huge circular scar surrounded by tissue damage, usually followed by words to the effect of “holy crap, you weren’t joking.”
I’ve been making excellent progress despite it being so long a journey it’s often hard to see. There’s been a lot of things to juggle – resting the leg, exercising the leg, keeping the dressing in place, ensuring the leg doesn’t dry out, applying dermatological cream, taking drugs, dealing with their side effects, monitoring, observing and reacting – and I won’t lie, at times it’s felt like too much to deal with.
However, I came to the conclusion that as a geek I needed to use technology to help me. Cue a fitbit to monitor walking, backed up by the Endomondo app to track exercise. I also use MyFitnessPal to monitor food and use integration between the various apps to tie it all together. It’s meant that aside from little things, like scanning all my food and remembering to turn on Endomondo for the duration of my exercise, it takes care of itself, allowing me to focus on the mental aspects.
My diet due to my drugs would be enough to give someone depression. I gave a couple of low calorie ready meals away this week because they have 4x my limit for fat. Yet I discovered today that I seem to be able to east Haribo. Also getting people to understand that my diet is purely about fat content rather than calories takes a lot of effort. I regularly feel lethargic and bloated and my tolerance of others is far from its best as a result.
There are times when I feel like I’m buried under the mountain I’m trying to climb, and the real mental challenge is feeling like I’m in control and on top of everything.
This is where some of the old sports psychology has come into play. The last couple of weeks has been filled with many a weird Youtube video search to get me to a place where mentally I feel totally in control. I’m not even a great watcher of sports. But I do believe to be a great athlete takes something more than just great talent and training, it takes the right attitude. It takes mojo.
We sometimes talk about attitude as if it is some kind of witchcraft but you see it in everything from business to health – a positive mental attitude can make the world of difference. And I want to get to a stage where my attitude not only aids my recovery, but makes me more efficient as a writer as well.
I’ve been building things back up slowly, getting back on schedule with my articles, updating the blog more regularly – these have all been baby steps. But with all these ideas mounting, I need to get to a place where I’m more focused, more dedicated, more efficient.
And so I’ve taken a leaf out the book of my physical recovery. I am a geek, I can throw technology at the problem. I can get apps talking to one another so they monitor and manage what I do, freeing me up to focus on the creativity.
Time will tell whether this works or not, it’s early days. I’m reminded that my previous successes were fuelled by numerous failures so I’m ready for the possibility that technology won’t bring me the efficiency I feel is missing. What is certain though, is that finding my mojo once again is going to be all about going forward with the right attitude.