Writing, working, and being a mom

Recently this article on working moms who write hit the Internet.

It's a very, very good article. She has some great, practical advice.

But I had to put in my own four cents.

As working moms who write, one of the keys to successes is figuring out what works for you. What works for one mom, may not work for another.

What this mom has wouldn't work for me--not with my job.

It seems to me that she has a very flexible job, one that allows her to take children to long sports practices and simply sit there instead of shuffling off to something else then circling back for a pickup. What a privileged and a luxury. So many working moms don't have the ability to take their kids to any practices at all during the week.

I also have to say, I am insanely jealous of her getting three hours a day to write.

A year ago I would have laughed and told you that two-to-three hours was easy and everyone should sit down at night and write that much if they were serious. I thought 3,000-5,000 new words a day was normal and those eking out under a thousand clearly needed to turn off their internal editor and just write. I wasn't a stay-at-home-mom or a work-at-home-mom. I didn't have some cool, flexible Hollywood job. I had a full-time, 9-5 job and a family. I would write 5-10k on weekends and still do things with my family and get the laundry done.

I was superwoman.

I had no idea how lucky I was.

Then I got my new job. I had to drastically re-think the way I do, well, everything--including write. The job where my 4 mile each way commute turned into a 40 mile each way commute. That three hours a day I used to write, is now spent in the car, which, unless I somehow manage to hook Dragon up to my laptop and dictate while driving, isn't being used for writing any time soon.

I get home late, so it's dinner, homework, and getting me and the tot ready for the next day. If I'm lucky, I may get to spend a little time with the hubby after the tot's asleep. More often than not, I go to bed. 5 am comes really early.

Some evenings I don't even check my email let alone write.

I had to find a way to make my new schedule work for me.

To me writing every day is important. So, I still write every single day. I write at lunch. I take my pink lunch box and my laptop and go sit out on the patio and write. I can get 1500 words done in a single lunch time if I'm really focus.

I also get food on my laptop. Oops.

But it's not the 3-5k I'm used to, so progress is much slower and that frustrates me.

Weekends? Well, I get more done, but not 10k. Weekends are spent running errands, which I used to do during lunch at the old job. Cleaning. And doing things with the tot, who no longer gets to hang out at mommy's work like at the old job.

I love my tot who is so supportive of me and understands that "mommy writes books." She'll even lean over and look at my screen and go "whatcha working on today, mama?"

I do plot and drive (I need a bumper sticker touting that.) I have been known to hide during family events and birthday parties with my laptop. I totally agree with having to give up other things in order to write (Housework is one of mine, though the family doesn't always agree).

I do have to say, as much as I love writing, I'd rather have a date with the hubby, then him taking me out so I could write. If I'm going to get a babysitter, then I want to go out and have fun. But, that's just me. I know if I want the hubby to continue to support me (and he is my biggest fan) we need to occasionally have conversations that don't revolve around work, children, or schedules.

Despite the new roadblocks, I manage to make it work. I *am* serious about my writing, even with this little time that I have. I have realized that it's possible to be serious about writing and only devote an hour (or even less) a day to writing. The important part is actually making the time, then sitting down and doing it.

I feel like I'm using my time the best I can--most importantly, in a way which works for me, which may not work for others. For example, many people swear by writing in coffee shops. I don't feel any more productive writing in Starbucks than in my living room.

It's also just not possible to go off duty as a mom when I'm already gone 12 hours a day and I just can't function staying up 'till 11:30 every night when I have to be up at 5. I still have to make time to be a mom and a wife and do mom things, both of the laundry and grocery shopping variety and of the playing with the tot and doing things as a family variety.

I have to keep my priories in order--a must when being a working, writing mom, and they differ for every single woman. I get very creative with my time to make sure I cover all my bases--that my family gets time and so does my writing. My family is very important to me and the last thing I want them to do is to resent my writing because it takes time away from them. Without them, I never would have started writing again, have continued to write, finished a book, shopped it, gotten over rejections, and finally gotten published.

So, maybe this year I'll only finish two WIP's instead of three. I'll probably be editing instead of doing NaNoWriMo. But I'm okay with that. I'm still writing. Every day. It's progress.

Also, I'll take writing in the backyard while the tot makes mudpies over writing in Starbucks, any day, because that's just the way I roll.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Amen sister!

I love this post. Keeping balanced is something that is so easy to lose when we're talking about our passions - either they take over, or we give up. Keeping going, while managing your heavy load, is a serious tribute to you!

And this is coming from an at-home mom, who still struggles to get everything done. I have more time to spend writing everyday than many of my friends who work or have families or both. I hope I use it wisely. My writing time evaporates when the kids are home in the summer, so I know how frustrating it can be to not have time to make a lot of forward progress.

You inspire me! Keep at it!

Julia Barrett said...

You nailed it - every mother has to figure it out for herself. Even when your kids get older, it doesn't get easier as their activities increase - and you want to be a big part of their lives.
I am lucky in that after 13 years of working full-time, I've been able to take a leave of absence to write and decide whether or not I want to return to my job.
Try to write with three little kids, soccer, softball, baseball, football, piano lessons, dance lessons, caring for horses and other pets - household chores, errands, sick kids - and a husband who works so much he's never home - talk about challenging! Especially when you add a job into the mix!

Suzanne Lazear said...

@Susan -- it's just as difficult to write being a stay-at-hojme mom, too. I think I got more writing done wile working than when I was unemployed.

@Julia -- we are all supermoms, we just have to figure out what our powers ares

STLScorpio31 said...

Amen. I have 4 children and sometimes writing is the LAST thing that I have time for. It seems that when I do have time, I have nothing to say asmy mind is finally slowing down and relaxing. Props to mothers who have time to write, but props to mothers who are making their households run....even if that means minimal writing. ;)


Suzanne Lazear said...

@stlscorpio maybe I need to do a blogpost series on "being supermom"

Thanks for dropping by