Why Moms Make Terrific Writers

Being a woman, according to popular wisdom, may confer an advantage when it comes to multitasking. Being a mom hones this skill to a razor edge, especially in a society where one is not only splitting attention between multiple kids but career, spiritual, volunteer, and leisure activities.

And let's not forget the dreams so many of us carve out time to pursue. Dreams take time, too, if one is serious about achieving them.

Whether or not you're a mom or female, the ability to multitask pays off in spades for the published author. While sustained focus is, paradoxically, crucial, "serial, compartmentalized focus" might be a more realistic way to think of it. At any given time, the working writer might be completing revisions on one book, researching another, and marketing a third (and possibly a fourth, as authors often have their agents shopping multiple proposals/manuscripts.) And let's not forget the marketing step-up necessary (including blog tours, book signings, and interviews) when a new release comes out.

Usually, it's around this time that the DHL truck pulls up with a batch of galleys needing to be proofed immediately, if not sooner. And let's not forget the necessity of reaching out to readers online (publishers love seeing their authors on Facebook, Twitter, and up-to-date websites) and the actual writing of the next book.

Do all of these demands usually take place at once? Not necessarily, but the working writer finds herself juggling many of them often, all while handling the same domestic, social, and other responsibilities everybody else has.

So for those who dream that the writing life is all about uninterrupted spans of time in ivory towers, that's a pretty fantasy. In reality, it's more like raising rambunctious triplets: more challenging, exhausting, and personally rewarding than you would ever imagine at the outset.


Comments

Mylène said…
Colleen, I've always thought this--and I'm not even a mom!
Same here--although I do like my long stretches of uninterrupted writing time. I also think, though, that it is up to us to manage that time. I have pretty much let everything else in my life go, perhaps to my detriment, but I find I'm happier saving my time for writing. I really am better if I can go in deep for a long period of time than doing an hour here or there. I don't know what that says for my chances as a publishing writer, but so far, even with a job, I've managed to make it work.
Oh, and let me just say that being able to do the laundry while writing is a definite plus! Hooray for things like dishwashers and washing machines!
I think it also depends on what you consider "uninterrupted spams of time." I consider 2-4 hours to be a pretty good chunk, and I can get a lot done in that time. Longer than 4 hours, I actually do get a little itchy. But there are some people who can manage to write in 15-20 minute spurts and be incredibly productive. I have tried that, and actually did write the first 100 pages of my novel that way, but it was very tedious, and I'm convinced a lot of the problems in those pages were because they were written so very s l o w l y.

Oh, and when I'm near the end of a draft, I can write for about 10-12 hours straight, as long as I have access to food and a bathroom. But that's only during the summer, and only when I'm REALLY inspired.
P. J. Mellor said…
Hi, Colleen! Great post! I've always been a multi-tasking mom and find it morphed very nicely into being a full time writer. I suspect, besides the multi-tasking, it makes it easier to change directions/focus at a moments notice, allowing me to take time from other things when it's really needed.
BTW, I've heard the IRS considers a full time writer someone who works three hours/day. I do know when I write much longer my brain gets tired. Of course, there are exceptions--like deadlines looming!
PJM
PJ,
Thanks for the comments. I have to agree with the three-hour productive workday. At least that's how much I seem to spend on the production side. The "other" box is what takes all my time!

Kathryn,
I think the truth is, we all have to stumble through finding what works for us as individuals. When my son was an infant and I was teaching full-time, I often grabbed 10-15 minutes here and there to write, but my brain had been busy working on the story, and I had little trouble "spilling" when I got to the computer. If I have all the time in the world, conversely, it takes me some time to pull my thoughts together and get through my fidgeting routine.

Deadlines help bring focus, as does any kind of outside encouragement.
Christie Craig said…
Love it, Colleen!

It's so true, you have to be able to multi-task to get it all done.

CC
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