An ongoing list culled from Writer Mother Monster guests.


Artist Residency in Motherhood, an open source artist residency program for anyone to implement in their own homes, founded by Lenka Clayton.


Pen Parentis provides critical resources to working writers to help them stay on creative track after starting a family.

Scribente Maternum, a community of mothers ​with our own stories and struggles, coming together because of our love of writing.

Further reading

“You Should’ve Asked,” a feminist comic about the mental load, by Emma

Labor Day, edited by Eleanor Henderson

Wanting a Child, edited by Helen Schulman and Jill Bialosky

Advice from wmm authors

Establish a support structure.

If you’re going to have kids, sit down with your partner and have a real conversation. Tell them, “I am going to need this much time to work on my writing. When are we going to make that happen?”


I made it known to my partner where I was, like wanting to write for four hours on Saturday morning and trying to negotiate that and making it known that it’s important for me on multiple levels—mental health, happiness, life goals, all those things.


Honor your time.

“It’s important to have unfettered time, however you manage it, and to do your best to honor that time and only focus on writing.”


You’re not stealing time; that time belongs to you. Take it, and don’t apologize for it, because your contributions to this world matter. You as a full human being matter. Go for it. Balls to the wall—no, labia to the wall, ladies.


When my kids were little, I would say, “You can’t come in this room for an hour.”


This too shall pass.

One piece of advice I got that was really helpful to me is that everything’s easier after the youngest child is 5.


Writing with a baby or toddler is different than writing with elementary or high school kids. That’s the biggest thing to keep in mind: It continues to evolve. 


Take baby steps.

When you haven’t written anything, a book looks really long. How are you gonna finish a book? I got into a routine that was useful to me, which was, “I’m just going to finish a story. And then I’m going to finish another story. And then maybe I’ll edit those. And then I’ll slowly get to a third story.” As time passes, you end up with 15 or 20 stories. The habit perpetuates itself.


Abandon your pursuit of perfection.

Here’s a hot tip: apple slices, peanut butter, and cheese are perfectly nutritious. You don’t have to make elaborate meals; you can just serve kids a pile of things.


You will not be perfect, and you will not have a perfectly clean house, you will not have a rigid schedule—no. It’s not going to be perfect, but life isn’t either. And neither is writing. Quite frankly, that first draft is usually horrible.


Want it. Bad. And own it.

Follow your heart, and follow it all the way through. Don’t give up on it. Don’t settle. You will have to compromise, because that’s life, but don’t settle. Just do what’s going to bring you joy and make you happy and make you solid and fulfilled at the end of the day.


All people deserve to have good and happy lives. It’s not selfishness to want that. It’s not selfishness to ask for it. It’s not selfishness to take the time you need to write. It’s not selfishness to go for the career that you want. And I think we often tell women that, “No, you gotta die on the cross.” You don’t have to! Walk down from that cross; go do what you need to do. It’s not great up there. It sucks.


You don’t need to be superwoman.

There’s never going to be enough time for all of the things, and I just have to make peace with that.


I try to let go of control and tell myself I’m just going to touch the work at some point today. That’s my only goal. I’m going to touch it at some point, if it’s working on one sentence, so be it. If I get lucky and both kids nap at the same time, I get two hours.


Redefine “writing.”

What works best for me is when I read books that seem to be in conversation with what I’m working on. That feels like I’m touching the work. It’s also giving myself permission to daydream and to use those daydreams as also touching the work.


Writing can be the physical act of writing. Writing also means paying attention, observing the world in a different way, listening to people with a different ear, taking time to really absorb and observe what’s around you. That’s writing to me, and it’s not necessarily something you have to pinpoint or structure.


I have an ongoing notes app on my phone, where I quickly type when something comes to mind.


It’s okay NOT to write.

You don’t have to be sitting at your computer to be writing, but it’s also okay to just not be writing. It’s okay to do absolutely nothing that touches your work, because you’re also a person apart from being a mother, and apart from being a writer, and you need to be able to occasionally take care of that person, as well. Let’s become the monster, right?


There are probably lots of people who have kids under five who are barely writing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Anything else is extraordinary and superhuman. Anyone who’s squeezing out a couple of words a week with a child under five is doing great.


If it’s becoming too difficult, it’s okay to take breaks, especially when you first have a kid and they’re really dependent on you. They’re really little for a very short period of time. If you need to take that break and spend that time with them while they’re little, that’s 100% okay.


Embrace babysitters.

I was always a firm believer in the babysitter. I think it’s great for your kid to be with a teenager.


Find your people.

I’m very externally motivated, so having a group that holds me accountable, with deadlines, is how I will force myself to make time to write. The time is there; it’s just a matter of looking for it.


The real world kind of sucks. It can be really harsh, so I think having a community of people who are interested in the wonderful aspects of art that you’re interested in can make things feel less lonely.


Secure your oxygen mask first.

We’re better parents when we set aside time for ourselves, like the metaphor of securing your own oxygen mask before you try to help somebody else. You can’t help anybody if you are exhausted, if you’re depleted, if you’re not fulfilled, if you’re resentful because these tiny humans are taking everything you have. We’re better mothers when we step away and do what we need to do to make ourselves feel whole.


Prioritize writing.

My writing is my career, and it is a priority, and that means it’s a priority over folding clothes, it’s a priority over raking the lawn, it’s a priority over all those things that we somehow think we need to do that are really just ancillary to the task of living. In my bedroom right now are baskets and baskets of unfolded laundry, and I don’t care. I don’t match socks anymore. We have a sock basket, and I just dump. Screw matching socks.


Accept that sometimes you have to sacrifice certain elements: If you want that extra hour of writing time, make your dinner as low effort as possible.


Let go of guilt.

We feel shame for things that weren’t our fault. We feel shame for every way in which our children’s lives aren’t perfect. We carry more shame than we deserve.


You have to have a good balance of being disciplined and being clear with what you want. But also, not beating yourself up when you don’t do it. I think the beating yourself up part of it can contribute to having low self-esteem, and that can impede you from being able to reach your goal overall.


Writing is a balance of not being too hard on yourself but continuing to show up and do the work as much as you can. 


Give up on finding balance.

When we talk about balance, it’s not ever exactly 50/50; you’re going to give more time to your children, and your writing is going to drop down for a while, but then you might have times when you can do a little bit more writing. It’s a give and take.


Champion yourself.

I have so many women students who feel guilty writing because they don’t think they’ve earned it, because they haven’t published yet. I’ve had women tell me that their husbands have said they could write for one year, and if you don’t finish it or the book doesn’t sell, then it’s not for you. We know that’s not how writing or publishing works. Work—and your passion—don’t always make money. We will not be valued unless we value ourselves and what we’re doing, and I always saw the value in my writing time. 


If you see your writing as worthwhile, then it is.


Find inspiration in the success of others.

Continue to try every day, and whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to other people and where they are—if someone has a book announcement and you feel saddened by your own lack of that—just try to recognize that you’re relating to that person because you want to be where they are. It’s demonstrating to you that there is a pathway forward for you.


Allow writing and motherhood to coexist.

I made the decision that I wasn’t going to be a parent whose baby dictated their life. I wanted kids to be part of the life I’d built, because I thought I built a really fun, exciting life. From the time my son was a baby, I was taking him all over the world with me. I was taking him on book tours. These things have got to coexist.


Write what’s hard.

I’ve had so many people—hundreds, maybe more—say, “You’re expressing what I don’t know how to say,” or “You wrote about something that I couldn’t explain,” or people would say they gave the book to their mother or friend or husband. For me, that made it worthwhile to talk about [my daughter’s death], although it’s always hard.


Share your work with your kids.

I used to take my kids on book tours with me because I wanted them to see what I do. I wanted them to see that people show up. Sometimes there’s 4 people in the room, and sometimes it’s 400 people. I always wanted them to see it.


I’ve been trying to do a better job of telling my kids how much I love to work and not feel horribly guilty about it. That’s also a weird thing that I used to do when they were little, sort of act like it was not what I wanted.