Tips on writing through the chaos of motherhood

My daughter turned five years old this year. A sweet, sassy, and energetic little being that is now just beginning her journey into school. She starts transitional kindergarten this year. Which means I will have WAY more time and energy to dedicate myself to writing.

I’m 1,362 words in My Turn To Hurt You. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn. That is nothing compared to what I used to write as a ghostwriter.” Freelancing back when my daughter was younger meant I could write during naps and early bedtime.

I leave my daughter alone for more a few minutes these days and then–BAM! Something is either broke, missing, or there’s a decent sized bruise on her leg from playing the floor is lava game.

I spent this past summer desperately trying to balance a freelance career and my daughter staying home with me full-time. I won’t lie. I’m like any other mom out there in the world that loses her shit and breaks down, but I did find some useful tips out there to keep me productive.

  1. Set a schedule
    I’ll be honest. As much as I love my iPhone, I hate the calendar, and if I don’t pencil something down physically on a piece of paper, it will slip through my mind. Mom brain consists of three meals a day, snacks, activities, temper tantrums, and the chaos of trying to get a five-year-old to go to bed. Doesn’t happen easily.

    Planner’s were a godsend for me. I could see when projects were due, but also where I had the time to write. Which usually happened first thing in the early morning when Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was on. I stuck to writing during time slots where there was less distraction. Which worked beautifully.

  2. To plot, or not to plot?
    Raise your hand if you love to outline and plot! Me, me, me!!! Writing without a plot is like bouncing around the ocean in a boat with no map and no clue of where you are.

    With my daughter on board, I get lost quickly if I don’t have an idea of what is going to happen in chapter five. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remember the brilliant opening paragraph that you just thought of and can’t remember! That’s why I am firm believer in taking the time to plot and flesh out the characters because it’s inevitable that you will get interrupted a few times throughout motherhood. Just saying.

  3. Make the space for writing.
    I have an office that I dedicate my serious writing time to. It’s not full of distractions. It has all my essential needs. I can close the door against noise if I really need too. Even a semi-comfortable chair to sit in while I type.

    The great thing about making a physical space is that it sets boundaries and respect for my child. She understands that my office is mine, so she treats it differently. If I’m in my office writing, she will bring in her own chair and scribble in a notebook until I am done.

  4. Buy a timer.
    A writing colleague of mine suggested this when she asked what held me back from my writing goals. The lack of time. Let’s face it. There is not enough hours during the day to get anything you want done. When you’re trying to write with a bored and bouncing child at your side, you spend more time trying to plead with them than actually write.

    So, I bought a timer. I made it a game. “When this timer goes off in twenty minutes, you can get a cookie.” Some might think that’s a horrible idea. I recently had a mother accuse of me being neglectful (as you can clearly see in the picture above) of my daughter. We’re talking an hour or two out of the day that needs to be dedicated to writing. My daughter now sits and reads her books until the timer goes off. Writing in sprints is how I manage to do anything.

  5. Take breaks.
    I told my clients a long time ago that my writing schedule will always be Monday through Friday. I rarely write on the weekends for work, and I make it a point to not work past a certain hour in the evening. That is my time to relax and enjoy the weekends as a family unit– not me tucked away in my office.

    Taking breaks is critical to recharging as a writer, but also as a mother. Our brains are on all the time. I’m writing this now on a Sunday morning because Grandma swung by to take my daughter to Target. To let me have some peace and quiet, but I obviously haven’t taken this tip to heart yet because I am ready to write. I do plan to take a nap though when my daughter comes home tired and ready for a nap too.

With love,

H.C.

 

The Truth Behind My Pen Name

Hope Carter.

The name popped up in my head nearly two years ago. I am no way a religious person. I won’t preach God to anyone, but I am a spiritualist. I don’t believe in coincidences.

I started seeing the name Hope everywhere. In my emails. On television. On Pinterest and Facebook.

I remember thinking, “Why this name? Why should I use a pen name?”

Here’s the context behind my decision to use a pen name: I wanted to do something for myself that made me happy. 

It’s a pretty well known fact that you will achieve your goals if you keep your goals to yourself. I knew that if I announced one day over the dinner table that I decided to pursue my goals of becoming a self-published author that it would be met with a good degree of skepticism and criticism.

“We can NOT afford for you to just follow a dream like this.”

“You can’t make a living off that dream. Just drop the idea and get a job like mine where it’s 8-5.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love the people who surround me, but my career as a freelance writer has always been placed on the back burner because a clean house, taking care of a child, and running errands were more important. I was never allowed to let my career flourish the way I wanted it too because I was the glue keeping everything together when life turned upside down.  Something that I will write about later in a separate post.

I had to be a mother first and foremost. I had to be in the kitchen. I had to clean the house and do the laundry. I had to be the one who took care of the mundane every day type of things while being the supportive girlfriend.

Bottom line. It’s damn hard to write when you don’t feel supported.

My daughter is obviously first priority in my life, but it occurred to me recently that I have spent the past six years of my life trying to support everyone else’s goals and careers.

Why not me this time around?

It was time to do something for myself.

I wanted the privacy and freedom to pursue my writing career under a different name. I didn’t want to do it under the shadow of judgement of those around me because writing is intimate. It’s personal.

And I am going to be writing about personal things that are ongoing in my life. The struggle of dealing with a recovering alcoholic. Trying to grieve a close friend’s suicide. Shouldering a father’s terminal cancer diagnosis.

Things that hurt like hell no matter how hard you try to detach from.

With love,

H.C

The struggle is real.

I started writing My Turn To Hurt You this morning. Only 300 words into the first chapter, and I’m already doubting myself. Is this good? Will anyone actually care about the characters and story?

When it comes to being a ghost writer, it’s easy to take a plot and characters and dive right in. I can pump out a 80k novel in three weeks or less. So, what the hell is so different about writing for myself?

Writing has always been an intimate process for me. Whatever I’m struggling with at that particular moment in my life will pop up in a story in one form or another.

I started this blog because I wanted to share my struggles and goals with other authors who are like me– just now finding the courage to write for themselves. The struggle to get past your own insecurities and doubts is real.

So, here’s my plan to get through it.

Just write the damn story.