If I had a dollar for every time someone tells me how they don’t know how I manage to write books and be a mom…well, I wouldn’t need to pursue publishing for profit! But in perfect seriousness, being a writer who is also a mom* does come with its own unique set of challenges. At the same time, learning to navigate these challenges can also help make you a stronger writer.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Schedule is Everything…but Flexibility is Paramount
As with most things, setting a scheduled time to accomplish a goal is one of the best strategies with which to accomplish it. But one things most moms quickly learn is that a children have a knack for throwing plans off. Have an important deadline looming? Chances are your child will get sick the day before.
So set the writing schedule. Figure out when would be the best, most ideal time for you to write based on your children’s nap/bed/waking times. Goals can be great motivators.
But once you have that schedule? Keep yourself as accountable to the schedule as you can—but also give yourself the grace to know when it’s just not going to work that day. Maybe your child kept you up all night and getting up at 5 am isn’t going to make for a good writing time. Don’t be angry about it. Life requires flexibility, after all. Just try again the next day and don’t give up.
Write WHENEVER You Can
My top tip for writing successfully may seem a bit contradictory to the first point, but hear me out: schedules are great but don’t just stick to a schedule. You may have plans to write at night after the kids go to bed. If you accomplish that, fantastic! But there’s no reason that has to be the only time you write.
My approach to getting manuscripts completed usually involves keeping my laptop, cell phone, notebook, or printed pages I’m revising handy. As I follow my kids around from room to room playing with them, I may write a line or two when I think of them. Or, better yet, my kids might sit to play something for an extended period and then I can write for a longer stretch. I’ve heard seasoned writers mention how if you can learn to write while your kids are tearing the house down around you—you’ll be quite fortunate indeed.
Get Mom Writer Friends
Writing as a mom can sometimes use some encouragement—and there’s no better way to get that encouragement than in the writing community. I’ve found a great deal of help and inspiration through writers I have “met” on Instagram, for example, and we often exchange stories about the challenges we’re experiencing. Two of the writers in my critique group are also mothers and they have been a source of invaluable help.
Even though we write alone, we don’t have to journey through writing alone! The community of writers is there to help us as we craft our stories and through publication. If you don’t know where to start to find mom writer friends look up popular hashtags on social media like #writermoms.
Just remember: parenthood doesn’t mean you can’t find the time to keep writing. If anything, I’ve found that my writing life has only become more focused since parenthood—writing isn’t something I’m willing to let go of, even when other things are. It may require some creative effort, but who better to do that than a creative person? Good luck!
*Note: While I write from the perspective of a mother, because I call “full-time stay-at-home mom” one of my jobs, this can also be applied to dads.