How Stay-at-Home Moms (and Other Busy Folks) Can Find Time to Write

11 Ways Stay-at-Home Moms (and Other Busy Folks) Can Find Time to Write

One of the most startling moments of my life was when I realized I was going to like being a working mom.I grew up in the suburban ’80s of leftover-stay-at-home moms, as did my husband.

I loved having a mom at home and I vowed that I would be a stay-at-home mom for my kids, as well. When I had my little bundle of joy in 2004, we were not in a financial position to have me stay at home, but we stuck to our guns and did it anyhow. We moved to a smaller house, we sucked in and scraped by, and nine years later I am looking down the barrel of an August when my last baby goes off to kindergarten.I have loved staying home with my kids. I wouldn’t back up and change that. But last summer I finished my first novel, a book that took me, while raising kids full-time, ten years to complete. Last fall, I started an indie publishing company, Owl and Zebra Press. Last month I published Benevolent. And now I am immersed in marketing and publicity with my pen poised over the third chapter of The Date and the Roach. And I can’t wait to get back to my converted dining room table to work on it.

Mothering will always have its time drains and its challenges, and having six hours, five days a week to “myself” isn’t going to completely change the playing field. More like, it’s going to be a different season. So I’m going to take this moment to reflect on what I have learned over nine years of staying at home while I freelanced and wrote, completed several poems, short stories,and finally a whole novel, and then became a publisher and entrepreneur: typing and wielding a box cutter with one hand while holding onto the waistband of an especially adventurous young boy with the other. And I am going to share these lessons with you.

1. The name of the game is endurance. It helps if you are stubborn.

2. If you don’t have a focus, you need to get one. Where are you headed? Prune away everything else that can possibly go(including the painting and crafting, as well as gourmet dinners and self-catered parties).

3. Connect with the kids (and the husband), everyday. That’s one thing you know you won’t regret (as opposed to cover photo choices or splurging your last savings on a book contest).

4. Remember that there are others just like you, working eighteen-hour days to synthesize two dreams into one life.

5. You are way cooler than all those people who “always wanted to write a book.” In fact, you’re going to write like twenty, so you’re not even in the same league.

6. It’s not too late to start. Teenage prodigy authors are like one in a billion. When I think of what my first novel would have looked like at seventeen, I thank my lucky stars I’m on the flip side of thirty.

7. We’re not going for fortune and fame here, just enough to keep it going. No more delusional goals. If it happens on the way, enjoy it and give as much of it away as you can.

8. You can’t please everyone. You can’t even please everyone around your dinner table. Decide what one person you really want to please, and make that your north star.

9. Someone, somewhere said that all it takes to be a career writer these days is about 10,000 readers per book at the rate of a book every couple years or so. That, and it takes about a year to get tread on a self-published book. So work really hard, and then calm down.

10. Write. Read. Hug a child. And repeat, ad nauseum.

11. Finally, enjoy your blossoming career, with all its undulations and unexpectedness, guilt-free. You were created to be a mom, you were created to be a writer. They are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, the world could use the voice of moms as the voice of its writers.

There are lessons learned while changing pukey bed-linens in the middle of the night that are special and important. Those lessons become voice, and voice is what carries the reader through the novel and speaks to them on conscious and subconscious levels. We need femininity and nurturing in our art.

In a time and place where the every-woman is a concept so common we are drowning the weakest of us under its stress, let me leave you with one parting thought: if you are a mom and you want to be a writer, that’s only two things. No one can be or should try to be every woman. Just be you, focused.

Tell me your opinion: How do you carve time from your busy schedule to write?

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About Devon Flaherty

Devon is a writer in the Durham, North Carolina area. She is originally from metro Detroit, Michigan. She is a mommy, a wife, a hobby yogi, photographer, painter, and foodie. She has been writing seriously since her very earliest brushes with literature, and has published articles, poems, and photography in literary journals and magazines. She is launching her lifelong dream–to be a career novelist–with the independent release of her first novel, Benevolent.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Devon!

  2. I’m not a Mom but I loved this piece… everything from being stubborn, to letting (most) other hobbies go, to a book needing a year… this was so helpful to me.
    And I simply love the name “Owl and Zebra Press”. Wonderful!

  3. I’m a SAHM and homeschooler for my three kids (5 and under) as well as a writer, and I love what you say here, Devon.

    People always ask me where I find the time, and I tell them I don’t. I make the time, because I have to.

    Since I’m active in my church and also volunteer with youth (which takes a significant additional chunk of time), I have had to cut back on almost all my other outside activities. I have a lot of joy in my life. I’m insanely grateful and proud to be living my dreams simultaneously.

  4. I’m a SAHM with a six year old and a one year old and I REALLY needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing!
    Emily

  5. Great post! I got the news my first book was being published two weeks after giving birth to my second child. I was terrified and thrilled.

    I’m blessed to have retired parents and a husband who are happy to watch the kids (we have a nine year old) so I can write on the weekends.

    I have my kids on an early bedtime (7:00-7:30). It not always easy, but it’s worth the extra time it gives me to have write in the evenings. If you can afford it a full-time helper (or someone to help with cleaning) is a life saver. My house chores are manageable.

  6. I had three and my youngest is in first grade. I found myself in the same situation and I began freelancing to help bring in some income. My novel is also long in the making (going on seven years) and now I’m having a hard time getting back to it now that I’m writing to get paid. I’m trying to get into that get up before the kids thing but it’s a rough go. Snooze is just easy. 🙂

    Thanks for this great list of lessons. They are words to live by.

  7. Great article. I think satisfying your creative urges makes you a better mother. It also models for your children a healthy, happy life doing something other than watching television and spending time at the mall

  8. Write. Read. Hug a child. Repeat.
    Wonderful, wonderful, very heartfelt. I ‘know’ all this in theory, but it’s so nice to hear it from someone else (and so well put!). Thank you.

  9. Thanks for the article!

    It’s amazing how creative we sometimes need to be to get our word counts. In February my CW class did a NaNoWriMo style month of writing, and, though a SAHM, I managed to get my 50K done in three weeks. How? The indoor (read: enclosed) playground! My son loved it, and I couldn’t have done without it. (That, and some late nights. :)) Writing with kids looks very different, but I’m amazed at how possible it is, and without necessarily taking me away from my duties and concerns at home.

  10. Thank you so much for a fantastic post. Especially when it can become such a push-pull balancing act. Awesome 11 to live by. 🙂

  11. What a lovely post 🙂 Yes, we should stop running and enjoy the ride!

    M.

  12. I can relate to this post! We have six kids, and I try hard not to compare my productivity with authors without children or who are at different stages in their lives. But it’s hard to balance. Sometimes I feel like I live at either the pediatrician’s or the vet’s office! When being a mom takes over you just have to give in to it, and cherish the moments, then get back to the WIP when you can. It helps to count your blessings as well.

  13. I have the wrong biology to be a mom, but I work with many in my author coaching. This is going out in my newsletter on the 1st because it mirrors so much of the advice I use to help my authors not feel overwhelmed as they try to write and still have a life (or have a life, and still write.)

  14. Great article! Lots of helpful hints for those of us who want to be both Mom and author. Thanks so much!!

  15. Being 8 months pregnant and spending most of my days catching up to my 2 year old, I’ve wondered if I’m crazy to think I can be writing a book at the same time. I also have a coaching business and am in the process of building a new home. Some days I’m so exhausted I don’t even open my laptop, but other days the motivation and inspiration pours out during a nap time. So it all balances out I suppose 🙂

    Today is one of those tiring days so I Googled SAHM and finding time to write to see if someone out there has found an easier way to balance all this! I loved everything about your article and am so happy I stumbled across it tonight. You’re an inspiration and are really granting the much needed permission to us busy moms to hang in there, trust the process, stay true to ourselves and our families… and one day it will all fall into place.

    Thank you!! Much love!!

  16. Thanks for sharing, Devon Flaherty. Moms are awesome! It’s not easy raising kids and trying to make it as a writer. Your story is very encouraging.

  17. Thank you for the encouragement! It is easy to feel overwhelmed and unproductive, especially when everyone wants a piece of you. 🙂

Trackbacks

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