Writing Wins and Woes: How Mothering Helps You Be a Better Writer

Last week’s blog was kind of on the negative side, so I wanted to make this final edition of the writing mothers blogs be more upbeat. There’s so many good sides to being a mom. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, you have to go through pregnancy and labor to get there. Yes, it’s exhausting and time consuming. Yes, it’s expensive. Wait a second. Didn’t I say I was going to list the positives of being a writing mom. And I am.

Here’s my list of How mothering helps you to be a more creative writer.

  1. Mothering gives you more and greater life experiences. Ask a mother and she’ll give you stories. Motherhood is all about stories. The stories you can tell, and the stories the kids tell you. Not to mention all the great events you share with your kids. Having kids means tragedy and triumph. All those things spell stories.
  2. Mothering teaches you patience. Moms are often known to say, “I’m on my last nerve.” But in truth, you learn patience as you mother a child. You need patience and lots of it to be a writer. Books take a long time to write. They take an even longer time to publish, if you ever get to publish a book or even a short story. It takes patience.
  3. Mothering gives you hope. Mothers know that all good things happen in time. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but in time, good things will happen. This is true for writing, too. Good things will happen eventually. Wait and see.
  4. Mothering gives you a sense of humor. Suddenly a baby with a face full of cake is a blessing. It never was before, was it? But you’re a mother, and you love to see your child happy and enjoying things. Motherhood is a life full of funny events. Not all the time, mind you, but a lot of the time, and it’s best to see the humor in things. Humor can make that rejection in writing bearable particularly if they said it was the most awful thing they’ve ever read. Laugh about it. After all, you can improve, or you can send that story to someone who can appreciate it.
  5. Mothering gives you people to share your writing with; to talk about writing with. I have a daughter who writes. Some of my best experiences were sharing stories with her and her sharing stories with me. A child is a built in audience. They have to listen to you or no supper. Ha ha. Your child loves you and loves to hear you read to them. Read them a story that you wrote.
  6. Mothering makes you more diligent in the time you do have. Endless amounts of time to write is nice, but sometimes wasted. Knowing you only have “x” amount of time makes you apply yourself more to your writing. It builds discipline.
  7. Mothering keeps you from being isolated/antisocial. Writers tend to be hermits. I did a whole series on this. But when you have a child, you arrange play dates, field trips, birthday events, etc. At these places, you meet people. It’s a win, win situation. You might even get an idea to write about at these places from these people.
  8. Motherhood gives you a reason for living and to keep living. I think writers can be depressed people. Writing can be depressing. You don’t get a lot of good news and you do get a lot of bad news. It can wear you down. Being a Mom gives your life a new purpose. That zest for life can transfer into your writing. Ta-da! Motherhood is beneficial for writers. I just proved it. 1117
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Writing Wins and Woes: The Negative Factor of a Writing Mom

I am on me and squidwardpart three of my series on writing and mothering. When I began my research for this week’s blog, I was planning on painting a rosy picture of mothers who write. What I found a lot of is that writing mixed with mothering is hard.

Mothers who write often neglect their children. It comes with the job. Motherhood is a distraction. A kid wants attention. They want to play. They want food. They want entertainment. Writers need time to write. Creativity doesn’t flow freely while your kids is crying, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” about a zillion times.

I researched the lives of three writing mothers. Alice Walker, most famous for her book The Color Purple, said about mothering, yes, have children, but only one. With one you can move. With more than one, you are a sitting duck. But mothering and writing didn’t seem to work for her. She often had to leave her daughter with family so she could write. In the end, she was estranged from her daughter. It’s not easy to do two things well.

Joan Didian, writer of novels and a literary journalist, had the motto written in her home, “Brush your teeth. Brush your hair. Shush I’m working.” She was 31 when she adopted her daughter, Quintana. But her work excluded her daughter. She thought she could just tack motherhood along to her career, and go on as normal. But motherhood doesn’t work that way.

I’m going to end with something more positive. Susan Sontag, writer, film maker, teacher, and political activist, tried hard at balancing child rearing and writing. Her son, Philip Rieff, admits having a strained and difficult relationship with his mother. Yet, she developed these ten admirable parenting rules.

  1. Be consistent.
  2. Don’t speak about him to others (e.g. tell funny things) in his presence. (Don’t make him self-conscious.)
  3. Don’t praise him for something I wouldn’t always accept as good.
  4. Don’t reprimand him harshly for something he’s been allowed to do.
  5. Daily routine: eating, homework, bath, teeth, room, story, bed.
  6. Don’t allow him to monopolize me when I am with other people.
  7. Always speak well of his pop. (No faces, sighs, impatience, etc.)
  8. Do not discourage childish fantasies.
  9. Make him aware that there is a grown-up world that’s none of his business.
  10. Don’t assume that what I don’t like to do (bath, hairwash) he won’t like either.              I think, on the whole, mothering and parenting are like any other endeavor in life, challenging and rewarding. Whatever we work hard at, ultimately whether we are winners  or failures, we are at least counted in as those who try our best. That makes us a success story in the end.

Writing Wins and Woes: Writing and Mothering

Is it possible to be a writer and a mother? Well, of course. Lots of writers are. However, it is very challenging. As any busy mom knows, mothering is a full time job. Add to that in most cases, moms have full time jobs to go along with the full time job of mothering. If a mom is lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, it’s still almost impossible to write, especially in the early years of being a mom. Just keeping up with the mothering essentials, housework, cooking, etc eats up all the time and when a mom does have a few minutes to spare, she normally crashes out on the sofa for a nap or popcorn and a movie.

In the later years, after the kids are in school, a mom might have more time but it’s often spent running the kids to extracurricular activities, such as sports, dance, lessons of some sort, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the list goes on and on. How can you possibly be a mom and write?

Here’s some tips:

  1. Write when you can. Sylvia Plath, the modern poet and novel writer of her day, wrote in the middle of the night. Busy moms are often up at night. So take advantage of those non sleeping moments and write. Write a few minutes while they are napping, or at school, or at breaks at work. Whenever you can. Writing takes dedication and it’s hard work, but five or ten minute snatches can accomplish a lot.
  2. Schedule some you writing time. Get a baby sitter; aka dad, grandma, paid sitter and grab the laptop and drive to Starbucks or a bookstore or the local library. Wherever you like to write best. Even the park if nature is your muse. Just an hour or two doing this helps you recharge your batteries and get some writing work done.
  3. In the summers when the kids are home, write together. Give the kids their own notebooks, or laptops and tell them to write a story. A mom can have her own writer’s group in her very own house. If they don’t want to write, have them paint or do a craft while you write.
  4. Set your clock for a half hour earlier every day and write. This is for the morning persons out there. Coffee can do wonders for the writing mind. Write before anyone else is up. It’s quiet and peaceful. This doesn’t work for everyone but will work for some.
  5. Keep a journal. I harp on this a lot. There are times when I am just too fatigued to write creatively. But I want to keep my writing in practice, so I journal. Journal about your life. Journal about your kids. Journal about your job. Whatever you want to write about. Just keep writing. Hope this encourages you to keep writing whatever stage of life you are in.

    Easter, pets and daddy 010
    ViviLnk

Writing Wins and Woes: A Tribute to Mothers

It feels really good to be embarking on a new series. I’m really excited about this one, because it involves mothers and I love my mom and I love being a mom and the whole topic of writing mothers, which I’ll explore in later blogs is very intriguing.

My first part of the series comes from an idea from Juni Desiree’s blog. She is compiling a book about moms and our relationships to our moms and suggested writing a letter to our moms. So I’m taking up the challenge. Without further ado, here it is.

Dear Mom,

I want to write this letter in a more public way because you have been such a guiding force in my life. From before I remember, you’ve taken care of me in many more ways than physical ones. You gave me emotional guidance and spiritual wisdom. Even before you became a Christian yourself, you sent me to Sunday School, wanting to make sure I had a faith in God. After you came to know God, you took me with you, where I first came to believe in Jesus Christ in a personal way. You’ve encouraged me in every way possible to be a better Christian, not by being perfect, but by weathering the storms and still clinging to your faith and teaching me to do the same.

You were there for me when no one else was. In the early years, when we didn’t have dad, you were mom and dad to me. Don’t ask me how you did that. Somehow you did. Despite working all day in a hot and dirty foundry, you took time every day after school to talk to me. In fact, I don’t remember a time when you refused talking to me even when you must have been exhausted from your day. More than that, you provided for my needs and even most of my wants. You helped me make better decisions in my life and taught me right from wrong.

You helped me be the writer and story teller I am today. You often shared with me stories of your childhood. I loved to sit at the table with you and listen to those stories. You wrote some down in a book and I thought, I want to write books like that, too, and so I wrote my own stories. Not everyone is blessed with a story telling mom. I was.

You love me. I don’t know why, but through all the mistakes I continuously make, through dramas in my current family life, through arguments we’ve had through the years, you continue to love me. I know now, being a mom myself,1548 that’s what mothers do. Still, it’s a hard road to follow. You didn’t waver from it. You never stopped loving me.

I know you’ve told me, you thought you made a lot of mistakes in life raising me. I’m sure there were mistakes. I don’t remember them. I only remember what a great mom you were and are. You are my inspiration, my guardian angel and one of my best friends. I hope and believe I’m one of yours too. Thank you, Mom, for making the world a better place to live in. Without you, it would be empty.

Love you with all my heart,

Your daughter, Shari