Thursday, January 20, 2011

Being a Momma and a it even possible?

I get to see this sweet little face every morning.  This wee monkey is always so happy to see me! 

I love it. 

I get to play and laugh and sing and dance and do crafts and hug and squeeze all these
other monkeys around her, too...

I also get to make them dinner and wash their clothes and tell them repeatedly to put away their coats, backpack, mittens, books... I get to clean up spilled juice and milk and anything and everything else that is liquid and could possibly be knocked, tossed, splashed or swiped onto the ground.  "Wait? What? Why is soy sauce dripping from the ceiling?"  

Yep.  I'm a busy momma.

So, how does a mom of small children stay motivated to find any time to write? How do you possibly squeeze in time to create a rich fictional world with twisty subplots, witty dialogue and charming, loveable, yet, flawed characters when you can't even remember to renew the library books (I had a $60 fine. Yep. Sixty! Exclamtion Point! Thank goodness for the Food for Fines charity program).

These are excellent questions. 

I'll just get comfy while I wait for someone to share the answers with me. I'll grab a cup of peanut butter cup cocoa (yes. It is the best hot chocolate in the world.) and my fuzzy brown sweater.  Hmmmm, alright, I'm ready. 

Anyone know how I can manage all of the above?  Well, it's kind of know what I mean.  Anyone?  Come on.  Someone has to know...

Alright, fine.  I guess it is my blog.

Here are six, no... seven suggestions...

#1: Find a time in the day, just for you, to write.  Twenty minutes at nap time?  Can you get some lines typed before the monkeys wake up? Or maybe that blissful time of day when everyone is in bed and the house is finally and beautifully quiet.  I've tried all three.  Naptime and after bedtime work best for me.  But I have to be flexible.  Sometimes my Cowboy and I like to go play Super Mario on the Wii at night.  And sometimes I need a nap myself.  But I'm trying to write, at least, 20 minutes everyday.  Somedays I have to make up for the days I've missed and do 40 minutes or an hour. 

#2: Start up or join an on-line critique group.  I've been in many many on-line groups.  Some were great.  Some were...not so great.  But all of them have done one thing for me.  Kept me writing!  If you are like me and you work well with a deadline, then this is for you.  Now how do you find a group? The best way is to get involved in writing message boards like the Blueboard at Verla Kay's site. I've alsp been in groups that formed up on-line after we'd all met at conferences or workshops.

#3: Or start or join up with an in-person critique group.  Yay!  I finally have one of these.  And it's brilliant. Twice a month we swap our new chapters.  I have to come up with at least 2 chapters a month. And my friends are going to read them and then meet with me face to face to say what they love.  But also what they don't understand or what is just plain weird orpoint out words you repeat (Lana....We decided to start calling her Lady Redundant Woman.  Anyone else a fan of Word Girl?  Well, Lana is the one to catch all the words we repeat too often....ok. Repeating isn't the same as being redundant.  I'm aware.  But still...I think it's funny.)

#4: Make goals, sign up for things, shoot for the stars (yeah. I know....Corny).  Like the Picture Book Marathon or Nanowrimo or grab some friends and make up your own goal and deadline.  Like, say, write one sentence every week.  Just think....After a whole year you'll have a whole page of writing!  Okay.  Maybe you should shoot for a better star...something a bit more shiny. 

#5: So, what is it you want to write?  The next great big YA Novel?  Trust me.  I don't think it will be about vampires.  Or are you working on a middle grade novel or maybe easy readers?  You know, there are a lot of publishing opportunities with magazines.  Have you ever thought about writing short stories or poetry for childeren's magazines?  I am working on a middle grade fantasy novel, but poetry is the only thing I've sold.  In the past.....hmmm....say, 6 years or so, I've sold ten poems to The Friend Magazine.  It's not a huge deal.  But it's nice to make a little cash and see my words in print.  Maybe you can't fit writing a novel into your mommy life right now.  But you might be able to write funny poems or little stories. 

#6: Ok.  Another idea?  Look at your time.  Really look at how you spend it.  Are there any moments in your day where you're wasting it?  Like, say the two hours you spend building fences or milking cows or whatever people do on that silly farm game on Facebook?  Really?  Is it necessary? Maybe there's something you can cut out of your life (I know I spend way too much time on-line reading about fascinating ways to get crafty with things like upcycled sweaters or recycled Pringles cans.  GoodNESS when do I think I am going to have time to refashion a sweater into a funky, yet, useable pencil jar? Or turn that chip canister into trendy bangle bracelets?) Get rid of something to make time for writing.  If you really want to be a writer, then you should probably write. And speaking of which. 

So long! The house is quiet.....

Oh, but wait.  One more thought. 

#7: Ask yourself this question, what comes first?  Being a mom and a wife or the writing?  For me it's my family.  It has to be. I can't let myself put the writing first.  Years from now, when I look back at my life, I don't want to see that.  I don't want to see a momma who didn't chuck snowballs at her boys when given the chance or twirl in the living room with her daughter to Beautiful Stranger by Madonna because I was too busy writing The Book.  Sure I'd love a book deal and an agent and the whole shebang.  But, for now, I'm content.  I'm writing and I'm learning how to write the best novel I can, but more importantly, I'm home with these precious creatures, watching them learn and grow and become fascinating and unique people.  I love it.  The rest of it can wait.

Now who else has some Being a momma and a Writer Advice....anyone?   


  1. I really would love to see you turn a sweater into a pencil jar. If you did it, I'm sure it would be lovely!

    I agree with you that family comes first. You're right-it has to! My problem is letting go of all the little daily things to put time in for writing. And I really loved writing poetry, so I think that's where I should start. Would you be willing to give me some info on how to send those kinds of things to The Friend?

    Oh, and it was not me who left soy sauce dripping from your ceiling. However, your Cowboy is rather tall. Maybe you should sit him down under a bright light for some serious questioning...

  2. You bet. I'd love to help out out. Maybe I'll do a blog post about it...and share some info about other magazines.

    I know what you mean about having a hard time pushing aside the daily stuff. For me, it's hard to give myself permission to do something that is solely for me. It seems selfish to sit down to write when the sink is full of dishes or there is laundry to be folded or or or...there is always something.

    But I think it helps me be a better person by taking some time for myself. I need to develop my own talents and continue learning and growing. And I want to be that kind of example to my children. I want them to see that while being a momma comes first for me, I also have other interests and goals and dreams. And that I can take it upon myself to further my education and reach for things that are important to me. :)

  3. Oh, and you're right.

    My Cowboy is a bit of a suspicious character.

  4. So, um, when do we get to see more of Jasper?