Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tips for being a Mommy Writer

Tip of the Day: Feeling a little blue about the economy/trying to sell your book? Kristin Nelson had an upbeat blog this week about the current situation.

People are always asking me how I get things done when they see me and my four kids ( ages 6, 4, 2, and 9 months). Mommyhood is a huge time suck (though a wonderful time suck). There are meals and playdates and driving back and forth to schools and homework and gymnastics and ballet and basketball and art class and baths and volunteering at school and (I'll stop can see this is never ending). Then I tell them I'm a writer too and their eyes sort of glaze over. It's really doable though so I thought I'd share my SUPER SECRET tips today.

1) Work all day. Not literally of course. But if I know that I'm going to get out to write in the evening I'll look at where I left off in the book first thing that morning and what's coming next and then run it through my mind all day. Like yesterday for example. I knew my main character had a super hard letter to write. I thought about it all day so by the time I was ready to write, it came out pretty quickly. There are great times throughout the day to do my writing/thinking. I find that I'll fight for my husband for the shovel when it snows because I get a whole scene plotted in my head that way. Of course, you have to remember to collect all of the receipts, backs of envelopes etc, that you jotted things down on all day to take with you.

2) Have a good support system. If I didn't have a super supportive hubby who came in the door at 7 pm and said "Go write!" I wouldn't be able to get so much done. He's always willing to do whatever he can so that I get my time.

3) Get an iphone or other e-mail reading device. They're so completely addictive and you can get so much more stuff done! I've e-mailed my editor and agent from the school pick-up line numerous times.

4) Get over the guilt. Sometimes, especially when you have a deadline (like I do right now!) you just have to tell yourself it's okay to let some things go. Yes, I still have to feed and bathe and play with the kids. They still need to go to school and their activities etc. but I don't have to pick up every flippin' Barbie off the ground every night. And the dishes can wait awhile. And it's okay if they have mac n cheese every so often. (But please make it organic wheat macaroni noodles with all natural goat cheese and organic milk. KIDDING!)

5) Love what you do. Writing is my down time. My yoga. My bubble bath. It's not "work" for me to go write. It's a luxury so I cherish and enjoy the time I do get.

These are my tips anyway, Got any you want to share with me?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut


DeenaML said...

You are Superwoman -- face it! :)

Kate Fall said...

When I'm feeling too guilty, I remind myself that one of my most important jobs as a parent is to teach my children to be independent.

I bring pens everywhere and I keep paper in my car. I wrote out a book review waiting in line for the car wash this weekend. And I totally understand your snow shovel thing! It's like plotting in the shower.

Emily Marshall said...

These are excellent tips for us non-moms as well. I like the work-all-day thing about thinking about it throughout the day and then when you have time to get to it, it comes out better.

Lisa Schroeder said...

You are not supposed to tell me to get an iphone. (I want one) I keep telling myself I don't really need it. (I want one) I'm on the computer all day at work, I check my e-mail there (I want one) I just renewed my contract with T-Mobile (I want one)

Tana said...

I'm a mom of four too and your right it's a huge time suck lol! Your post was great. I concur on all points. If I didn't have this God driven passion to write so much what on earth else would I be doing? Hmmm.....

Unknown said...

Now I know how to deal with my future.


P.S. You guys have been nominated for an award!

Kristina Springer said...

D- The lasso does come in handy. :-)

KF- Good point!

EM- Another good point!

L- Oh Lisa, the iphone is sooooo wonderful. And you can tweet from it and check facebook too. I don't know what I did without it. I try to block that time out- lol.

T.Anne-- yay another writer mom!

The Voter-- thanks!! So cool!

Christina Farley said...

Thanks for these tips. Really great. I still don't know how you do it though.

Anonymous said...

Do yourself a favor and do something Moms used to do in the past-teach your children independent play skills. As the parent of older teens, I've noticed a trend among younger Moms to feel pressured to entertain or engage their children constantly. It's exhausting and it deprives the child of the much needed skill of entertaining themselves. Start early- no child needs mom's attention all the time. Suggest ideas or favorite toys and then let them go.

This ability to play alone or to find their own amusement proved invaluable to my girls when peer pressure hit in school or when friends turned on them-as often happens about fifth/sixth grade. It's helped them say no to controlling acquaintances and to walk away from trouble.

I live in an urban area and I've also encouraged my girls to have 'friends on the side' in other words friends who don't attend their school. That way, if there are tensions or falling outs at school, they have other friends to resort to. (A luxury I didn't have growing up in a small town.)

Lastly, I limited my kids to two non-school activities a week. Multiply two times the number of children and that is still a lot time/driving, but a fraction of what other parents spend. I have always believed that children need down time, imagination time, free time, as much as structured activity. Psychologist David Elkind's book on 'The Power of Play' is a great resource of understanding how play functions in a child's life.

Have fun with your kids.

Kate Fall said...

Susan, I had to come back to say I LOVE your points here. Sometimes I really have to stop and ask myself how much of what I do with my kids has to do with how my parents raised me. You know, basically throw me outside with a pointy stick and a rusty shovel. And I turned out OK ... sort of.

My husband has 5 siblings and I have 2 siblings and 3 step-siblings. There was little individual attention unless you were bleeding. I definitely try to give my kids more structure but my husband and I will never feel comfortable with micromanaging their time. It's just not how we were raised.

Kristina Springer said...

Oh yeah-- that is definitely a perk of having so many kids. They quite often play together. It's sooooo nice. And I totally limit their activities too! The oldest one can do a couple of things but the little ones only get one activity. Well, the baby doesn't have one. Unless you consider nursing a sport.

Sherrie Petersen said...

What a great post! I find that I write better at night because, like you, I think about what I'm working on during the day. Even now that the kids are in school all day, I still like to write when it's dark and everyone's asleep.