Welcome to Mash-Up Monday!
I’m off on some much-needed R and R, so my talented Entangled Publishing sister, Nichole Severn, is taking over for me this week – yay! Take it away, Nichole!
Over the past three and a half years, there’s been a war raging in my house. Not between family members. Nope. Just two sides of the same person. Me. I’m a stay-at-home-mom to the smallest terrorist alive and a Romance author.
There are thousands of us out there in the world of publishing, many of whom handle the two very different personalities like a Ninja Warrior slash Badass Got Everything Under Control Woman.
I’m not one of them.
I am one of the women who doesn’t shower for days because I don’t see any point when a tiny person is just going to pour juice on my head the next day. I’m one of the women who is so exhausted, she laughs at the idea of getting up early and staying up late to write (and I only have one kid!). And I’m one of the women who feels guilty for wanting to write instead of being the perfect mother who is attentive to her children.
Well, I’m here to tell you how I’ve kinda learned to balance the Romance author inside me with the crazed, sleep-deprived stay-at-home-mom.
Repeat After Me: You Can’t Take Care of Anyone Else…
Have you heard that saying? You can’t take care of anyone else until you start taking care of yourself. I’ve been preaching it to my author and mommy friends for years. You need to eat right. You need to get enough sleep. You need to…blah, blah, blah. But more often than not, I wake up with a crude reminder I haven’t been taking care of myself and I don’t have the energy or brain capacity to attend to…anything. That’s when Netflix comes in handy. But I can’t run my day like that for long or else someone might call social services on me.
Recently, I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s #MagicLessons podcast in hopes of getting some inspiration and within the very first episode, I had a revelation (seriously, go listen to this podcast, creative friends). A long time ago I realized writing was my stress relief. It was a chance to kill people who pissed me off by day, dying on the page by night. It’s the “me time” I look forward to every day. And when you think about it, part of taking care of yourself is doing those things that relieve your stress. Hence, taking the time to write is actually good for you!
So when you’re getting ready to tear your hair out because your son or daughter decided to stomp Goldfish crackers into your carpet, get your butt into your office, close the door, and put that ruined self-manicure to the keyboard. Your stress will disappear and the entire family will thank you for it.
Leave Your Guilt at the Office Door…Now
Your children will live without you.
To be honest, this was one of the hardest things I had to come to terms with over the past few months, especially since all I wanted to do was write and all my son wanted to do was play. But really, unless you have a newborn that needs to be fed and changed every hour, there is such a thing as quiet time. Which I LOVE. Two hours to myself. Every day.
But let’s address something I’ve been seeing on social media lately first, specifically Pinterest. I love Pinterest. I spend more time on there I should every day looking for things to create when I’m burnt out from writing, recipes to try, and characters to write stories about someday. These are all good things that inspire the creative in me. What doesn’t inspire the creative in me or even the mother in me is, “10 Ways to be a Better Mother…”, “5 Things You’re Doing as a Mother that are Killing Your Child…”, and more degrading crap like that.
Just stop right there.
You want to write? Leave your guilt at the office door.
The first way you’re going to accomplish that hurdle is to stop clicking on those awful articles. Yes, I realize they are also writing mothers, but they’re not getting your head in the place it needs to be to create. Your children are alive, yes? Then you’re an excellent mother. Doesn’t matter that you’re still in pajamas at 4pm (I am!) or that the laundry hasn’t been done that day. Your family will be happy that you’re happy.
Okay, so now that you’ve cut off the guilt monster’s head, schedule your day. Maybe that means spending the morning with the kids, eating lunch, then putting those kids in quiet time for a couple hours (or if you’re lucky, a nap!). Ensure they’re fed, take them to the bathroom, and maybe put a load of laundry in the washer because you can’t live off of pajamas. Trust me, I’ve tried. This way, the mother in you is fulfilled long before you’re sitting down to write and your head is clear.
There. You’re not wallowing that you’re not the most perfect mother, the children are fed and entertained, and the house is somewhat manageable. No reason for you to constantly check on them, no reason for you to not put in your headphones, no reason not to write. They’re alive. I promise.
If You Fail to Plan…
You plan to fail.
All right, the kids are in quiet time and you have your butt in the chair, and your once perfect manicure to the keyboard. Now it’s time to focus on work. Yay! My favorite time of day.
What’s your plan for this precious, distraction-free time? You don’t have a lot of time, remember? Maybe a couple hours depending on when one of your kids has to go to the bathroom again, or they want a drink, or…you get the gist.
So it helps to have a plan in place. A daily to-do list, an author business plan, a notepad or journal filled with ideas for your next scene. Something that helps you get right into the grit of your work so you’re not staring at a blank screen and losing those precious minutes you’ve set aside.
Having a plan for the day is probably one of the most important aspects of my Romance writing career. Wait, let me rephrase that. Having a plan is the most important aspect of any career. By just looking at my daily to-do list, I can self-motivate myself into checking off those boxes of things that need to get done and feel accomplished at the end of those two hours of quiet time.
And if I feel accomplished for that day, I’m not constantly looking for extra minutes to cram in work the rest of the day. I can focus on finishing the laundry (who really wants to do that?), spending time with my son, and winding down for the night.
Looking for some inspiration, my author friend? Start with creating your author business plan and go from there.
You got this, mama friend. Get out there and create something amazing.
ABOUT NICHOLE SEVERN
Award-winning author Nichole Severn writes dark paranormal romance and explosive romantic suspense. She’s the grand prize winner of the 2014 Heart of the West Contest from the Utah Romance Writers of America Chapter and a psychology graduate from Utah Valley University.
Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she spent most days at her grandmother’s house watching X-Men, Married with Children, and The Simpsons, Nichole migrated to the Salt Lake City valley to live life as a full-time Romance author.
She resides with her very supportive and patient husband, as well as her terrorist of a toddler, in Utah. When she’s not writing, she’s constantly injuring herself running, rock climbing, practicing yoga, and snowboarding.