10 Minute Writer

Confessions of a Busy Mom Who Became an Independent Novelist

Mothering And Fathering Yourself As A Writer

I posted this two years ago. In that two years, I’ve had more success in my writing career than I ever would have thought possible. Regardless of that success, I still need balance. Hope you like this. 


Was it Stephen King? Or Anne Lamott? Or Julia Cameron? I don’t remember, all I remember is that it was suggested to me by some writing guru, that we should both mother and father ourselves as writers.

As I’ve ruminated over that concept in my mind, I envision part of me treating my writing like Phil Dunphy, when it should have been kicked around by Claire. Or  maybe my writing has had far more attention from Homer and and not enough Marge. (Or maybe I’m spending too much time with my television, which clearly means I need more discipline.)

We need to balance the way that we treat ourselves. We should be equally disciplined (like a father — in general terms) and nurturing (generally like most mothers in a traditional sense — please, I don’t need to have any I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR comments . . .), so that we are comfortable writing, but not so comfortable that we forget our obligations to our art. Too much discipline and order and we get stressed out. Too much coddling and comforting and we get soft and lazy.

Go with me, if you will, into my mind, where the nurturing, soft, feminine side goes toe-to-toe with the task-oriented, masculine side. Which side will win? (And when do I start my counseling?)

Mother:  Aww, you’ve written two hundred words today!  You are so amazing! Have a cookie!

Father: Two hundred words? Come on, you can do more than that! You did 2K a day last November!

Mother: Of course the agents you query will love you. Just do your best. What else can you do?

Father: So what if you get a rejection. Buck up! Try harder! Rewrite that query!

Mother: It isn’t about earning money, dear, it’s about sharing your talent with the world.

Father: Why would you work this hard on something and not want cash?

Mother: Write from your heart!

Father: Write for the market!

Mother: If you get an agent and a publisher, then you’ll have credibility and people behind you, and your books will be everywhere. I can tell my bridge club to buy your book on Amazon!

Father: If you self-publish and get your own books, you’ll have control and more profit and your books will be accessible. I can tell my golfing buddies to buy a copy out of the trunk of my car!

Mother: Social media is not about fame, it’s about relationships.

Father: Social media is about sales, and avoiding those awkward phone calls when I don’t know what to say.

Mother: Nanowrimo is fine, dear. I can do all of your Christmas shopping for you. Just don’t expect me to understand when you leave the Thanksgiving table to get in your word count.

Father: Nanowrimo? If you can write a book in a month, why aren’t you writing twelve a year? You could be rich!

Mother: I loved your book!  It was perfect!

Father: Which of the characters was me?

Mother: So, when you say you’re blogging, isn’t that the same as Facebook?

Father: How about those Red Sox?

So, what do you think? Do you overly mother yourself or overly father yourself? Or are you balanced? Are there any mother/father discussions about writing I’ve forgotten?

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2 Responses to “Mothering And Fathering Yourself As A Writer”

  1. George McNeese

    I shift more toward being a mother. I am not as disciplined as I should be about writing. I do have moments, though. I try to write until I reach a good stopping point. Other than that, there will be days where I don’t write anything, not even journal. I can be hard on myself at times. I’ll say to myself, “Why did you not being your notebooks?” Or, “you should focus more.” I’ll make excuses about why I don’t write. I’ll tell myself that it will be all right and that I can pick it up the next day. But there will be a part of me that will force myself to mark it on a calendar or a task list or something.

    So, after all that, maybe I’m a little balanced. It’s hard to tell.

  2. Loved the post. As for me, it depends on the day. Sometimes I need to be Claire, sometimes Phil – but I love both.

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