As an agency copywriter, when your muse goes into hiding, you’re screwed. Because clients and deadlines don’t want to hear about your inspiration being dead, they want copy. Copious amounts of quality copy.
So, what to do when your mojo’s gone to the dogs?
Well, currently, I’m working my way through the list as follows:
Pretending everything is cool is, I think, more or less the go-to response when inspiration expires. As a freelancer, this takes a slightly more relaxed appearance than when you’re working in an office for a boss. On your own, you can pop out to see a movie or grab a coffee with friend or, at a push, curl up with a new book for “research.” As part of a team, however, you’ve still got to LOOK busy, even when that bright, bubbly exterior is actually nervous hysteria.
2. Send out the search party.
Sooner or later, you’re going to have to face up to the fact that all is not well. Not only are you going to have to face facts but you’re also going to have to PRODUCE something, all the while cursing at the aforementioned muse in her absence. The search party could consist of a chat with a team member, whose understanding and friendly suggestions just might trigger a little spark of something you could work with. Or it could look more like trawling the client’s website over and over, PLEADING for something to jump out and slap you in the face.
Generally, you’ll find that one or both of these work well enough and your muse (that stupid cow!) was just chilling around the corner and having a little laugh at you.
But sometimes, she’s hit the road for real to let you know that you’ve somehow, unwittingly but in no uncertain terms, ticked her off BIG TIME.
3. And then you’ve got to haul out the cavalry.
Except, the cavalry looks less like a bunch of large, automatic weapon-bearing brutes and more like an email or a chat to the boss, telling them you’re going to need a deadline extension and hoping against all odds that SOMETHING falls into your head in time to meet your deadline.
By now, if the wayward wench hasn’t made her way home, you’re going to have to resign yourself to the fact that she’s not going to, and you’re in this on your own. Best you start writing, then.
When all else has failed, there’s nothing for it but to admit defeat, in which case the only thing left to do is surrender to the fact that you’re either going to deliver or get fired. So you’ve got to sit down, forget about whether or not you’re any good as a writer or whether you’re going to make your deadline or not. Stop worrying about whether you’ve taken anything out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner, and for the love of that Norwegian fish they use in the signature dish at Nobu, quit the sad sack routine and write.
It’s going to be rubbish, of course.
But it’ll get you going. It might take a while. It might even take a MUCH longer while than you can afford. But here’s a little secret about that muse of yours: there’s nothing she needs more than to be needed. So, the moment you start moving on without her, she’ll come sashaying back in, all fierce and fiery and demanding to know what you think you’re doing, starting without her.
And before you know it, you two are peas on a pod again.