By Steven Pressfield | Published: October 17, 2012
We’ve been talking for the past few weeks about thinking in blocks of time, saying no to distractions, and digging in for traction. What’s the point of all this?
The point is to produce mojo.
Here’s my definition:
Mojo is a force field of positive attraction produced by sweat, intention, dedication and love. It’s a groove, a rhythm. It’s “flow.” It’s “the Zone.”
Mojo builds up over time. It feeds upon itself. The more mojo we have, the more we can generate.
Mojo is the opposite of Resistance. From the cloud of mojo we pluck the lightning bolts that we hurl at Resistance (not to mention the charm, the flair, or the smoke bombs we use to distract Resistance.)
What is the education of a professional? In many ways it is simply this: learning how to produce traction. How to generate mojo.
The average bear embarking on a serious, long-form project (losing twenty pounds, mounting a philanthropic venture, launching Squidoo II) has no conception of the level of mojo he will need to get from One to Done.
We fail, and we fail again. Each time we come back able to produce a little more focus, a little more intensity, a little more traction. Each time we bring a little more dog into the fight.
Have you heard the axiom, “If you want something done, give the job to a busy person.”
A busy person has mojo. My friend and mentor David Leddick has just turned in a book for Black Irish. This is in addition to the musical he is opening Off-Broadway, for which he has written the book and the lyrics, as well as producing it and performing in it. David is squeezing this in between the publication of his new novel and full-time work on his autobiography. On top of singing lessons, ballet class, and stuff I don’t even want to know about.
David is 82.
David has mojo. He has always had mojo.
When you have mojo, you are the epicenter of a powerful field of attraction. Things are drawn to you. Ideas. People. Money.
When you have mojo as a writer, lines of dialogue come to you. New characters and plot twists pop out of the ether. A filmmaker with mojo sees new sequences in his dreams, hears monologues in the shower, gets new funding-source ideas while driving on the freeway. If you’re an entrepreneur, mojo draws new investors to you, presents you with production ideas, assists you in team organization and motivation.
Can mojo be manufactured? Absolutely.
Mojo is acquired by the application of work, passion, and commitment over time.
About a month ago, when I returned from two weeks off, I said to myself, “I need mojo.” Hence: thinking in blocks of time, saying no to distractions, digging in for traction.
What is the opposite of mojo?
The opposite of mojo is slippage. Spinning our wheels. Working by fits and starts.
The Muse hates that. When she makes her rounds each morning, she wants to see us at the easel, in the studio, hunched over the movieola. She is sniffing for mojo. She responds to mojo.
How about this for a crappy week? Monday we work, but only half-assed and without courage. Tuesday: the in-laws. Taxes all day Wednesday. A crisis at our day job devours Thursday. Friday we get in a couple of hours but our brains are so fogged we get nowhere. The weekend? Forget it.
That is not mojo. It’s lo-jo. It’s Nojo.
Can we blame the Muse for not giving us anything? Why should she?
Ah, but when he have mojo!
We sit down to write 500 words and when we’re done and hit “Word Count,” the box says 2754. The brilliant young chef we’ve wanted for our new restaurant storms off his current gig and phones us: “Have you got something for me?” We find the key we’ve lost, remember the number we’d forgotten. We wake an hour before dawn with the solution to the second act.
Mojo is indeed a magic charm bag. It’s knucklebones and kestrel feathers, Buffalo nickels and railroadman’s watches, marbles (cat’s eyes and clearies, ducks and shooters), amulets and talismans and half-moons made of silver. Mojo is the cigar box that Scout had in the titles sequence of To Kill A Mockingbird.
In other words, we don’t know what the hell mojo is. All we know is we gotta have it.
We can’t summon it, we can’t order it, we can’t even invoke it. We draw mojo to us with a gift, and that gift is ourselves and our love and work and commitment.
Thinking in blocks of time, saying no to distractions, digging in for traction.