Hats Off to Mom Writers!

Mom writers are a special breed, and my hat goes off to you. I started writing when my children were babies and toddlers, but I haven’t been in that life stage for a long time. I often keep my grandkids (ages 12, 9, 4, and 1) though. It quickly brings back the challenges of combining children and writing–both finding time and finding energy.

It also reminds me of the real blessing it is to have children around on a daily basis when you write for children. As Katherine Paterson once said: “As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.”

Hands-On Research

I’ve been writing a middle-grade novel that includes a kindergarten boy, but until this week, the character was pretty flat to me. I couldn’t seem to get the dialogue quite right or the humorous actions I wanted.

After this week, though, the problem is a thing of the past. I have a small notebook of ideas gleaned from watching the grandkids at the park, playing dress-up, investigating birds and bugs, and turning cardboard boxes into boats and sleds.

Help for Mamas

Mixing babies and bylines can be a real challenge though. Years ago, I relied heavily on a book that is now out of print. However, a friend recommended a book for writer/moms that sounds wonderful called Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz. It has 90% five-star reviews on Amazon, so I’m guessing it’s just what the doctor ordered if you’re balancing kids and a writing career.

In the coming weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, we’ll focus on how to combine writing with babies, toddlers, elementary age kids, teens, young adults, married children…and grandchildren! Each age comes with its own challenges–and its own solutions. If you’re in the writing life for the long haul, you’ll need this bag of tricks!

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6 Responses to Hats Off to Mom Writers!

  1. Christie says:

    I am really looking forward to your coming posts about writing with children underfoot. I read Writer Mama when I only had one child who still took two naps a day–and I thought I had it rough then! I enjoyed it at the time and thought it was helpful. I’m sure I’d appreciate it even more now, with two children who are mobile and active! I’ll have to reread it. I’m also excited to hear your experience and advice!

    • kwpadmin says:

      Christie, it’s funny how we look back at periods of our children’s lives and think how much easier it was “back then”! But in truth, every age comes with different challenges for those trying to combine writing and staying home with their kids. And just about the time you have great routines in place, you have another baby, or your child becomes a hormonal teen, or everyone gets the chicken pox, or something more serious happens. But the next few posts, I’ll share what worked for me at these various stages. Now I’m recycling my own advice to myself with my grandkids! And it still works. :-)

  2. Amy says:

    I’m interested as well. I homeschool my 3 kids ages 12, 10, and 4. The hardest part for me is trying to figure out the marketing and platform building side of things. I sell magazine articles to smaller markets just fine, but trying to write books and self publish them and actually SELL them has been more pressure than I think I can deal with this season of life. The technology and all changes so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Not only do I need to find time to write, but I have to educate myself on marketing (outside my comfort zone as well), blogging, designing a website, growing and maintaining a marketing email list… AHHH! Makes me want to scream. Even if I were able to jump through all the hoops to get an agent, my understanding is that I would still need to do all the marketing “stuff”. Sorry. That’s where this mom writer is at. :) Looking forward to your series.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Amy, I wish I had the answers for you. I would hate, frankly, to be a new writer right now where the pressure is so high to do so much marketing. One solution for you might be to write for the educational markets during these busiest years. I had two books come out last year with Rosen, and most of the educational publishers publish both fiction and nonfiction, sometimes a series of your own with fiction, sometimes fitting into a series with nonfiction. They do all the marketing, like it was when I started writing. Publishers like this are called “work for hire.” You get paid a flat fee for the book, but no royalties. But so far, I haven’t minded that as the pay has been good enough up front for the book. I just contracted for four adult work-for-hire mysteries for this very reason. Nice money up front, fun writing, and no marketing.

  3. Michelle says:

    I agree with Amy, I also homeschool, so my writing and marketing time is limited. I go back and forth from working on platform and writing my novel and blog that some days I just seem to go in circles. I would love tips on how to make short bursts of time productive.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Michelle, when all I used to have were short bursts of time, I sat down and made rather extensive lists of “short projects” that could be done in 10-20 minutes. I made a list for my novel or article, I made lists for my blog, and I made lists for other writing chores, including bookkeeping for taxes, etc. By then I knew what I could get done in a short burst. It might not be anything harder than “brainstorm chapter titles” or “sort January receipts and enter,” but I wrote down EVERYTHING so I wouldn’t forget. I do admit that it was a lot easier before email and Facebook. If you get caught going there first, there goes your short burst of time. I don’t know what writing/marketing chores are on your list, but slice each goal into mini slices of time. Write down the slices in a list. Then when you have a small bit of time, choose the next “slice” on the list and focus on that ALONE. Slowly but surely, you’ll get through the list. I probably wrote my first ten novels this way.

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