“I’ve lost my mojo…”
How many times have you heard this or one of its near-infinite variations? Probably a lot. It’s an annoyingly common complaint in the modeling community.
And it fundamentally misunderstands motivation and how it works.
For a number of years, writing was my hobby. That ended when my career shifted into full-bore copywriting. Turns out writing for fun loses some of its effectiveness when you’re also writing for work. But when I was writing, no book, no piece of advice or sage wisdom or whatever, had a bigger impact on me than Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.
See, Pressfield doesn’t talk about mojo. He doesn’t talk about writer’s block. Instead, he talks about Resistance. Yes, with a proper noun, ascribing it a kind of mythical status like we’d ascribe to the Fates of the Furies of the Greek pantheon. Resistance takes many forms. External factors like time or illness or caring for a loved one. Internal factors like laziness, procrastination, and the various mental roadblocks we use to sabotage ourselves.
Resistance – in all its forms – is the friction that keeps us from getting about our creative work. I’m tired. I’m just not feeling it today. I’ve lost my mojo.
Pressfield’s prescription for beating Resistance?
Do the work. Sit your ass down and fucking write. Even if what you write is shit, write. Build the muscle memory and the neural pathways of writing. Tired? Write. Stressed out about something at work? Write. Knee hurts? Write.
A popular term for this approach among writers is “Butt in Chair”.
And it absolutely applies to modeling as well. You can’t get your mojo (as stupid a term as that is) back if you’re not modeling.
Motivation comes after you start
Modelers often speak of mojo like it’s some external thing. Like, I don’t know, the golden snitch from Harry Potter. A thing you have to catch. But here’s the thing — when you externalize it, you take away your own agency.
“I don’t know where my mojo went” is nothing more than an excuse. It’s the comforting little lie your brain gives you to justify not doing shit.
And if you sit around waiting for mojo to come home like some fickle cat, you’re again giving up your agency. And that’s how you get all those eyeroll threads where someone tells you to build something different, like a Star Wars kit or a Warhammer thing or whatever. Like some slightly different-shaped subject will magically attract your mojo from wherever its fucked off to.
Let me put a different thought out there. Mojo is bullshit. Motivation is the thing. And motivation is something internal. And it’s something we can control and even trigger.
Every Tuesday morning (well, since COVID), I go hiking or mountain biking before work. I love both. But I hate mornings. And every Monday evening, my brain starts up the negotiations. It’s going to be so early. And humid. And my knee’s been hurting. And and and.
When I head out to the trails on Tuesday morning, it’s always grudgingly. I’d rather be asleep. I’m stiff. Something invariably hurts. But then I hit the trail and I start moving. And something happens. I find myself enjoying it. I find myself pushing to see if I can beat my personal best times. Or pushing to cover a bit more ground, so long as I can get back in time for various meetings.
My motivation comes out after I start.
And the exact same thing is true of modeling.
You are your mojo
So here’s my…I don’t know…plea? Sincere hope?
Stop using misplaced mojo as an excuse. Stop thinking of it as some magic amulet you need in order to start.
Instead, do what Steven Pressfield suggests. Take all that shit keeping you away from the bench, and think of it as Resistance.
Instead of waiting until the conditions are just right, accept that they are almost never just right. And tell them to fuck off and start anyway.
Put your butt in the chair, do the work, and create an opening for real motivation — not the false idol of mojo — to spring forth.