Perhaps it sounds exhausting to write a book on top of everything else, and that’s how we say it too: “On top of everything else!” Which means the house, the kids, the career. It’s kind of funny how the most meaningful things in our life become “everything else” when we simply have too much to do.
So wait, I didn’t exactly answer the question. How are we, the working mothers of the world, supposed to write a book on top of all that?
Let me say, it’s paradoxical. When you have the impulse to write a book, and you carve simple moments for it (even in waiting rooms and parking lots), all of the other "burdens" get lighter. It actually takes more energy to repress creativity than to express it.
When your life is so full of responsibilities that there is no room for magic or play, everything feels heavier. The whole project of your current life just starts to cave in on itself.
The thing is, we often block ourselves from creative expression because we think we need to write the whole book, when actually we could just take out a grocery receipt and write words on the back. That’s actually a perfectly valid first step.
I started this for myself 3 years ago, shortly after my son was born, scrapping together the book that became the foundation for my Author Coaching program. When I started, I didn’t block out any time. I just started writing down thoughts in spare moments with quick sketches on paper.
These are the four main strategies that really helped me build momentum:
1. Slow Down to Speed Up
How does a working mom write a book? Slowly. That’s the short answer anyway. I call this the paradox of patience. It simply means you’re no longer allowed to beat yourself up for not advancing as quickly as your expectations (or judgments) dictate. Reward yourself for every word.
The irony of this strategy is that allowing yourself to go slowly speeds up the creative writing process You can set your watch to it. When it comes to writing, patience always speeds you up and impatience always slows you down.
2. Reclaim Your Time
That’s right, it’s time for reciprocity. The thing about being a working mom is not just the hours at work and family time, it’s that you get pulled into all sorts of additional things. Your sister asks you to watch her kids. Your partner goes out with friends every Wednesday. Your boss asks you to work late.
Take steps to negotiate your time back, if someone asks you for a favor, make sure they return it! In the case of your boss, this takes courage, but usually policies on overtime and leave are outlined in your contract. Just make sure that you’re that you’re getting your due. Especially if you’re being overworked.
This is really about worthiness. If you want to use your time to write a book, you are at liberty to do so. Your book is just as valid as other people’s needs.
3. Focus on the Advantages of your Job
I learned this one the hard way. When I started my book I was a high school teacher in a very rigorous private school. There were a lot of late nights and early mornings where I would be swimming in student papers. My job sucked up all my writing time, and I found myself wondering, “Is this dream even possible for a teacher?”
That question did me no good whatsoever. It wasn’t my job’s decision, it was my decision whether or not I finished the book. So I replaced that dreary question with positive mantras like, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” And “I have the perfect job for achieving my dream.” And in time I actually started to see the truth of those statements.
I set my sights on every opportunity for downtime and of course advanced rapidly during vacations. That’s when life really started to shift. I negotiated for less rigorous position at school. It may be different for your job, but I promise if you look, you’ll find the seeds of advantages. And if you appreciate those seeds, they’ll grow.
4. Change Your Mental Frame
Sometimes we fall into this mental rut of thinking, “I can accomplish this EVEN THOUGH I’m a mom.” It’s really motivating to make a conscious mental shift to “I WILL accomplish this BECAUSE I’m a mom.”
When we become parents we are overwhelmed by a level of love we may never have known existed. We want to make the world better and we want to make ourselves better for our kids. We want to show them that life is significant because they are significant to us. These are the strongest reasons to write a book.
This is an important mental shift I made early in my son’s life so that he’s always the reason why I write and create, never the obstacle.
If you want to dig even deeper into this topic, I have other tips for finding time to write Find Time to Write with this Simple Magic Trick and 5 Easy Steps to Get Up Early and Write. But more than anything, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re a working mom, what strategies do you use to support your creative writing process? What are the biggest problems you come up against?
Let me know in the comments, or if you’d like to try out free coaching via e-mail, scroll down to the “Coach Me” form at the bottom of the page. There are 3 quick questions about your dreams, goals and blocks. I put my heart and soul into personal responses to those e-mails, so I’d love to hear from you.