Why is there a picture of a pole-dancing bunny on my blog? A) pure happenstance; B) it's been one of those summers; C) my mojo is in the audience, watching, unaware that I am about to grab it by the collar and drag its sorry behind back to work.
Did you guess D) all of the above? Very good. The bunny is not actually pole-dancing. I was hasty in getting settled in for last year's NECRWA conference and didn't notice where I'd put the bunny until I returned to the room for the night, and well, what else could it look like he was doing? (for the record, Bigfoot Bunny is a boy.)
How does this relate to romance writing? No, I am not now targeting Ellora's Cave or Loose ID. More like option C, with the missing mojo. This is going to happen in life, or rather life will happen. Sometimes this will get in the way of the writing schedule, and that's to be expected.
What, then, does one do when these times happen? Reading always helps, but when one is too exhausted to keep one's eyes open or so brain drained that one only realizes that one has been reading the same two pages for over an hour (no wonder the story feels repetitive) it loses a bit of the appeal. TV? Good, but when one needs to take in stories, and one's spouse thrives on the Food Network and Travel Channel, and there's only one TV in the abode, this also presents a challenge. The MP3 player is one of the best inventions of the modern age for this writer; flopping down in front of a fan and letting playlists for the stories I would write if I had any energy play at least keeps the wheels turning.
Being an extrovert, talking is usually one of my default treatments for anything. When one of my critique partners, Vicki, gave me some tough love (and ouch on my own words coming back to bite me, but she's right) I learned a few things that I think should come standard for writers going through a loss of mojo.
1) Nobody can draw water from an empty well. Coming up with nothing but nothing when hunkered down for a writing session? Read. Read good books, read bad books, read meh books. Read old favorites or new books chosen at random or recommended by a friend/internet buddy. The point here is to read, take in what you would like to put out. But read. A lot. If the old eyelids won't stay open, try audiobooks (of which there should be more romance, I do believe.)
2) Play. Toss around ideas you know you're never going to use. Focus on different aspects of characters you've used before or always wanted to try. Don't worry about putting out anything useful. Fill a notebook with fanfiction if you'd like. The important thing is to A) get in story mode, and B) have fun doing it. If writing feels like a chore, we naturally tend to avoid chores, right? We do not want to avoid writing if we are writers.
3) Do not flog yourself. Again, life will happen, and if you're worried about being able to take up the pen/keyboard once again, I am very certain you absolutely will be able to do that. If you didn't care, you wouldn't care and would be on to some other interest. If, however, the phrase "when I used to write" gives you the cold sweats and your eyes fly open wide with panic (don't ask me how I know this) then odds are you've still got it in you to turn things around.
4) This is normal, you are not alone and it will pass. Go out and play and let your characters know they're welcome to come join you.
5) If you see a pole dancing bunny, maybe it's time for a nap. But first a few pages of a good book.