Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hooray for Writer Mamas

In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, this post is in celebration of writing moms. And what better way to whoop it up than to quote from one of my favorite standbys when it comes to writing advice, Writer Mama by Christina Katz.

A most excellent chapter in Writer Mama is titled, Practicing Good Boundaries. As all burp cloth totin’, diaper changin’, and/or homework helpin’ moms know, boundaries are a must if we want to pump out more than ten words a day.

In her book, Christina gives four crucial nuggets of wisdom:

Set Limits on Your Time and AvailabilityShe encourages moms to practice before dreaded deadlines are in the picture. It’s worth it to get in the groove of scheduling in writing time now.

Ask for Help When You Need ItSpousal support. A last minute call to friend to babysit. Honest communication with an editor. Tapping in to any one of these sources can help the writer mama accomplish her goals.

Share a Bit about What You DoHelp others understand what your job as a writer and a mama entails. Many people have no idea how hard writer mamas work in order to balance their load.

Filters and Routines Help (love this suggestion)

“A filter is a method of channeling your workflow to the appropriate place when it comes in, so you can ignore it until you need it and then find it easily when you are ready for it.”

I can’t say enough good things about this tip. It’s a surefire way to prioritize and to work toward efficiency.

For an example of routine, Christina suggests checking email only at certain times.

What has helped if you, if you juggle being both a writer and a mama?

So, have at it, give a congratulatory pat on the back to the writer mamas out there. Set those boundaries, and as always, write on!

*Now, if I’d been a smidge less busy, I would have put on my thinking cap and would have contacted Christina directly to give her the heads up I was writing this post. She rocks. Truly rocks. And I recently read on a blog comment that she played rugby making her that much cooler in my book.

**mom & baby photo from Flickr


Joanne Sher said...

Okay - I LOVE this post, and absolutely need to get a hold of this book. I AM a writer mama. And it's HARD. Making use of the time when they're NOT underfoot is key to me. But mine are in school, so that helps ;)

Angie Dicken said...

I had no idea there was a book out there like this! I am trying to stick to my writing schedule...when my 4 year old is in preschool...but it's so easy to let other things get in the way--laundry, clean sometimes I take my computer or journal with me to drop him off, and then park at Panera or Starbucks and write in the car!! I know I am a goof, but it helps me not get distracted with the house. Have to look for this book!

Ralene said...

I have this book and love it as well! In fact, it's been awhile since I last read it--I need to go back and go over it again. lol... Great post, Wendy!

Mary Vee Writer said...

These skills can even apply to moms of older children or even our guys out there. I especialy want to comment on the "channel" point in your post, Wendy. We all get bogged down the distraction or the immediate need. I seem to have a problem during a church sermon. Something pops in my mind to pull me away from listening. To solve the problem I scribble the thought on my bulletin, tuck it behind my Bible, then and only them am I able to focus on the priority. When I get home, I address the issue...To me--its a in your face to that distraction. Likewise when writing I scribble the distraction down, tuck it away, then deal with it later.

Christina Katz said...

Aw, shucks, thanks you guys. I appreciate the shout out for Writer Mama.

Write on, mamas!

Unknown said...

I have two girls under three - thank God for nap time.
I'm off to order this book... thanks for sharing!!!

Pepper said...

wow, this is great! What an encouragement. We all need it so desperately too.
I second Mary's note too. I'm a scribbler (as well as being prone toward distractibility). I've also found that stepping back from the situation and trying to gain perspective helps me a lot.
So many times I feel like I'm drowning under a Mount Washmore pile of laundry - plus all the other things I need to do- and stepping back from the situation can keep me from losing my mind.
Then I have to sort that mountain of laundry into two stacks:
Big Deal versus Little Deal
so many times I'm tempted to inflate the little deals instead of keeping them in their proper places.
GREAT post, Wendy!! We need to talk again soon!!! Share the load ;-)

Jan said...

Hi, I found Writer Mama, took the class, and my life changed. As an older mom, may I suggest to learn to set reasonable goals and be easy on your self. Some weeks go better than others.

Carol J. Alexander said...

I love this book. From your excerpts, however, it looks like I need to read it again. Thanks for a great post.

Casey said...

This day will be coming (hopefully) for me one day and I'm trying now to practice utmost patience, to prepare for those times when I can't have my 8-2 writing block. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Love this post, Wendy! I'm trying to create filters and routines. Unfortunately, my little man has been outgrowing naps lately, so that two-hour writing window is getting squashed. Gotta work on Plan B...

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Thanks, Joanne. The book has helped me so much and is loaded with tips!

Angie, I'm such a people watcher outside the house, it's hard for me to get any work done there. Def. look into buying this one. It's a keeper!

Ralene, It's one of those I pick up off the shelf when I need a little inspiration or a clever idea/way to mix things up.

Mary, I like your scribble trick. Makes sense. I can see that working. I've gotten ideas for my novel at church. I have to work hard to focus and take quick notes.

Christina, How much do you rock? :D Thanks for swinging by and the RT. You'll never know what a huge influence your book is in all our writer mama lives! Thanks for that!!!

Terri, I know you'll enjoy it (and get a lot out of it). I remember those days. Sigh.

Pepper, Love it, Mount Washmore. Our bedroom floor seems to be covered w/ clothes 24/7. My husband walked upstairs yesterday and said, "Ah, clothes." I looked at him and said, "And you're surprised why?" Yes, talk we must! I love that Share the load line in LOTR! I'm often heard mimicking Samwise around here.

Jan, Oh man, a class too. I need to check that out!!!

Carol, It's so cool when we can all collectively uplift an author for helping our walk on this journey go more smoothly!

Casey, It's a pure blessing. Just requires creativity. Mass creativity and granting grace to others and yourself on a regular basis.

Sarah, Loved that filter tip. Changed my life.

Thanks all for offering your thoughts. I'm excited for those who've yet to read Writer Mama! And heck, for those who've read it too. Tis a good book!


Julia M. Reffner said...

This is a book and a class,too?? I definitely have to check into this. I feel selfish taking my writing time to be honest, but I'm a very introverted person so if a few weeks go by without writing it affects me emotionally.

Tracy Krauss said...

Scheduling is key for sure - something I am still working on after 25 years of writing! It has become even more important now, though, that I finally made it over the hump into the land of 'the published'. :) As well, the filter idea is a life saver. Actually, I use this strategy all the time and it really works.

Angie Dicken said...

Ha! This came at such a perfect time...when the baby refused to sleep for more than 20 mins. today and I have all this stuff running through my head that needs to get on paper. This is the stuff of writer mama woes!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Motherhood originally knocked me off the writing road. I was the very busy (and very clueless) mom of 3 kiddos & my husband was in medical school/residency. Somebody had to have a normal life.
And then--fast forward. Motherhood got me back on the writing road. My surprise pregnancy at 41 prompted me to think: If I wait to write until this one grows up, it will never happen.
One of the first books I invested in was Writer Mama. I loved her "You can do it" attitude. One of the ways I focused on writing was leaving the house. I wrote most of my non-fiction book sitting in a booth at Panera Bread. If the phone rang, I knew it wasn't for me. I wasn't distracted by laundry or all the other To Dos that were always looming at home.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh this is great. I definitely could use some good boundaries and set some defined priorities. Too often I set vague rules which really doesn't do any good. I like your ideas.