Guest Blog ~ Kristin Bair O’Keeffe ~ Where’s My Mojo?

Debut Novelist Asks, “Where’s My Mojo?”

My debut novel Thirsty was published back in October (Swallow Press, 2009). Since then I’ve been touring, schmoozing, talking, sharing, Twittering, Facebooking, blogging, offering contests, riding a unicycle across three continents with THIRSTY plastered on my forehead (well, not really, but that’s what it feels like), and lots of other things in order to get Thirsty into the hands of readers. It’s been fun, exciting, educational, and yep, utterly exhausting. Since I’m also working on finishing my next novel, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about two of the most important “ivity” words for writers: creativity and productivity. Neither of which I’ve got much of right now.

“Where’s my mojo?” I’ve been asking myself over the past few weeks, looking for it in random places—under a stack of books, behind the couch, in an old pair of shoes. “It’s gotta be here somewhere.”

In an effort to jumpstart my creative juices, I’ve ordered myself to do three things:

1. Doodle – When I write, I doodle. I get three or four sentences on the page, then I draw this weird, chromosome-shaped thingy and color it in. For me, doodling indicates that I’ve gotten to that wonderful, mushy, creative state of mind I refer to as “Writerhead.” In essence, doodling = good, not doodling = bad.

2. Read. – To write, I must read. (And if I dare: To live, I must read.) So over the past few weeks I’ve read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Julie Klam’s Please Excuse My Daughter, and right now I’m midway through Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

3. Step away from the process. – “Take a break? What for?” I’ve been saying as my head lolls forward and lands with a splash in my bowl of wonton soup. Like a lot of writers, I’m not famous for recognizing when I need a break or for that matter, taking one once I’ve recognized the need. But—and this will reveal exactly how creatively exhausted I am—I’m going on vacation. To Borneo! And I won’t be working. (Well, I might post a photo or two to my blog, but no work-work.) Instead I’ll be swimming, playing with my daughter, eating fresh fish, reading under a sunbrella, canoodling with my hubby, and getting reacquainted with my mojo.

How’s your creative mojo? What do you do when your mojo says, “Enough”?

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe is the author of Thirsty and an American who has been living in Shanghai, China, since April 2006. She is also a voracious reader, a happy mom, an engaging teacher who believes in “telling the best story you can…believing in your writing…and working your arse off,” a fierce advocate for the end of domestic violence, and a writer who spends as much time as possible in writerhead.

Kristin’s work has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poets & Writers Magazine, San Diego Family Magazine, The Baltimore Review, The Gettysburg Review, and many other publications. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and has been teaching writing for almost fifteen years. If you’d like to learn more, visit here and here.