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How to Be a Mom and Write

The title is a bit misleading. I’m not going to tell you how to mom or how to write or how to do both at once. I will tell you what works for me, as someone who has written three books and several short stories during my eight years of motherhood.

Save the Hippopotamus Dude for later

However you feel about the adage “write what you know”, now is really the time to write what you know. It is far easier to jump into a character that is familiar than to write about a time-traveling choirmaster from Vienna who thinks he’s a hippopotamus (unless that’s you. I’m not here to judge).

So save the choirmaster for a quieter time in life. Choose a character that is familiar, whether there are elements of autobiography in them or they’re based on a person you know. At the very least, pick a character whose desire line is relatively straightforward.

The same goes for world-building. It is very hard to keep the threads of a universe-spanning, multi-novel space opera in your brain box when you aren’t able to write consistently or for lengthy periods of time. That beautiful idea will still be there in three years when your kids are older. Give yourself permission to come back to it.

Don’t Look Back

When you can’t write every day, it is tempting to re-read the last thing you wrote to remember where you left off. If you can make one tweak to your writing, I suggest you end every session with a note about what you’re going to write next. Some people even stop mid-sentence, so they can dive right back in. Whatever you do, don’t waste your precious writing time getting sucked into re-reading or, worse, editing.

It’s a trap. Trust me.

Be Easy on Yourself

This might sound trite, but it’s the most important thing on this page. Your kids will only be little for a short period of time. One day, you’ll have an empty house that you can fill with the sounds of tapping keys and you’ll miss the constant “mom mom moms” and … I’ll stop there.

Don’t Listen to Anyone Else

I see a lot of threads on Twitter and elsewhere, with people explaining what works for them.

Waking up at 5 am. Writing until 5 am. Drinking coffee. Drinking beer. Having a buddy. Having a stuffy. Post-it notes. Binders. Plotting. Pantsing.

You’ll find the system that works for you, but just remember not to compare yourself to anyone. The truth is, anyone who is writing volumes while parenting probably has some privilege on their side, whether that’s a supportive partner, or a partner who works enough that mom-author can author, or a trust fund. Or, maybe they worked ten years in a soul-crushing job so they could take a year off to write.

Whatever their support system, it may not be yours. So find the system that works for you, with your limited time and resources, and remember that your mom years are not likely to be your most productive years, and that’s totally okay.

Be easy on yourself. Choose the simpler project. Write when you can. Don’t look back and don’t listen to anyone else.

Except me. You’re allowed to listen to me. 🙂

4 thoughts on “How to Be a Mom and Write”

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