Life as a Writer Mom: 8 tips every writer mom can benefit from.

If like me you have to combine parenting and writing, you most likely understand how much of a struggle it is. It’s difficult trying to collect your thoughts and attending to screaming children. But we love our children, and we also love our work! So what to do?

1. If they’re old enough, help them to understand your work.

You’d be surprised to see that your children can understand. I suggest sitting them down and explaining as best as you can what you do, and how you need time to work. Sometimes all they really need is to understand that the tapping on your keyboard is not trifling but serious work. Now don’t think they’ll be gone for hours, if they give you thirty minutes of interrupted work time, use it well!

2. Have scheduled times to write.

If you work from home, take advantage of the hours when they are away at school or asleep if they’re too young for school. If you don’t, it’s a great idea to plan to write at night, if you can stay up. Plan to write when you will have little interference from the children, otherwise the process will not only be frustrating but unproductive. There’s no point writing under pressure if you’re going to end up deleting it anyway.

3. Find ways to engage them.

If you can’t help having them around while you work, find something that engages them. Have them paint, draw, play an instrument (certainly not a drum or a saxophone!), play games or watch cartoons. The trick is to keep them busy enough to prevent interference.

4. Distract them with food.

This might seem silly, but food really works. Is the house quiet when the kids are eating? Yep, that’s the silence you need! I’ve realized that sometimes they’re bothering me because they are hungry or simply want something to nibble on. So, I make sure that they are well-fed before I start working. I also ensure that I have snacks and drinks to keep them filled after major meals.

P.S:  You might want to check out this tantalizing article on food writing, if it’s your thing.

5. Make them a promise to look forward to.

Promise them an outing or a treat if they let you work. I know, this sounds like a bribe, but I like to think of it as something they’ve earned for letting me do my work. Staying away from Mummy has to be really difficult for them! So, Mummy’s working and they’re working too!

Caveat: You must keep your promises! Children may be impressionable but they don’t forget an unkept promise.

6. Have someone babysit them.

So maybe this should have been number one, but not everyone can afford childcare. If you can, get someone trustworthy. I recommend hiring someone who has been referred to you. If you can’t afford childcare, you can ask a family member, or a friend to watch them while you get your work done.

7. Plan a retreat.

Sometimes you really can’t get enough work done no matter how hard you try. In this case, you might want to consider going on a retreat. There are several opportunities available for female writers, although they don’t come cheap. If you scout well enough, you might find some that offer a part scholarship that reduces your cost. You can also plan a retreat with friends where the cost of accommodation and feeding is reasonable. If you still cannot afford these, you can plan to visit a relative alone and hopefully get some work done.

8. Have a support group.

It really helps to have someone to talk to about your struggles, because sometimes it can be overwhelming. There’s no shame in admitting that you feel inadequate. A good cheering can give you the boost you need to finish that project. Stay away from people who only make you feel worse and gravitate towards those who will encourage and guide you.

I try a combination of these tips. But the honest truth is that it takes a great deal of effort to work effectively as a writer mom. However, the key to remaining productive is remembering that you’re not alone and that there is really no excuse for failure. Give yourself a pep talk if you must, but do what you have to do.

Got tips or suggestions of your own you’d like to share? Leave a comment!

Happy writing!

Apply for the Miles Morland Foundation Writing Scholarship!

Miles Morland, Creative Writing, African Writers, Writing Scholarships,

From June 30th to September 30th 2018, applications will be accepted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship. The scholarship will endow fiction recipients with £18,000 (over twelve months) and non-fiction with up to £27, 000 (over eighteen months).

Requirements

  1. Applicants must be born in Africa or have both parents born in Africa.
  2. Entry excerpt must be a published work (literary fiction) of up to 2000-2500 words that has been offered for sale, with proof of publication.
  3. A 400-1000 word proposal for the work they intend to write. This work must be up to 80,000 words for a full-length book (collection of short stories or collaborative work not allowed).
  4. Official documents showing that the applicant or parents were born in Africa.
  5. A brief bio of 200-300 words.

This scholarship is non-residential and scholars will be responsible for their accommodation during the scholarship. Please the FAQs and Entry Requirements for more details.

 

Good Luck!

3 Things To Do Before Publishing Your Work.

Creative writing tips

You’ve just finished writing the first draft of a story and you’re excited about it. You have set your characters free, so you feel relieved. Now you can’t wait for the world to read it, you hope they can understand the world you’ve created and that they care about your characters.

Before you send that work out however, read this!

1. Go over the story.

A first draft is what it is, the first. As you revise your work, you might discover that you have not considered an angle, explored the theme to the best of your ability or underdeveloped a minor but significant character.  You want to be sure that your work is saying exactly what you want it to say, so it is important that you go over it several times before you share it with the world. I have sent out work that I hadn’t thoroughly revised and I was sorry for it, so read that story one more time.

 

2. Share it with a beta reader.

A beta reader is basically someone who reads your work objectively to point out its strengths and weaknesses. Such a person should understand what to look out for. So I’m saying, don’t share it with someone who will only flatter you. He/She should understand characterisation, theme development, setting, language and plot. You might not find all these qualities in one person, so it’s alright to have more than one beta reader.  A good beta reader will look out for the little details that your story lacks. I have a beta reader who points out my weak sentences and another one who points out my long ones! If you’re reading this and you don’t have a beta reader, you should get one!

 

3. Have it edited.

This is super important! You need an editor to correct grammatical errors, proofread and ensure the coherence of your work. I have seen too many people whose works have little to no consistency or order rushing to get published. In the first draft you’ve dumped so much information, some of which is unnecessary and needs to be taken out. A good editor identifies these and helps to polish your work. No matter how many times you read the work, you cannot see all your errors because you wrote it. Don’t be afraid of editing, in fact, embrace it as a necessary tool for the refinement of your work.

I know the thrill of wanting to share your work quickly, and I have published work I am not very proud of, because I didn’t take note of these three tips. Don’t be like me, do better!

Got any questions or comments about anything you’ve read here? Feel free to leave a comment and share your own experiences!

Happy writing!

4 Opportunities for Filmmakers, Artists, Writers and People of Colour.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center: 2019 Arts/Industry Residency Application

Deadline: May 31, 2018

12 artists will be selected for residencies in pottery and foundry. No experience with clay or cast metal required, a genuine interest and willingness to learn new skills is key. Continue reading “4 Opportunities for Filmmakers, Artists, Writers and People of Colour.”

Hunger Mountain: Call for Entries

Hunger Mountain, journal of the Vermont College of Fine Arts is now accepting entries for its 23rd issue. Simultaneous entries are allowed. Themes are yet to be announced, but feel free to submit your best work in the meantime.  A $3 fee applies in each category.

Fiction

Submit stories no more than 8000 words “with characters who are alive and kicking, storylines that stay with us long after we’ve finished reading, and sentences that slay us with their precision.”

Poetry

Submit “truly original poems that run the aesthetic gamut” between one to five poems within a file.

Young Adult and Children’s Literature

Picture books, young adult and Young Adult crossover work acceptable (in text form).

 

See more submission details here.

Good luck!

5 More Days to Go: Loraine Williams Poetry Prize

Got a poem ready for submission? Entries for the Loraine Williams Poetry Prize close on May 15. Simultaneous entries not allowed. Submissions may include “no more than a total of ten standard pages in 12-point or larger type”.  The winning poem will be announced by August 15 and will appear in the Spring Issue of the following year. “All submitted poems will be considered for publication in The Georgia Review; any selected will be paid our regular poetry honorarium of $4 per line.”

See submission guidelines here