By Stacy Bronec @stacybronec
Several years ago, I sat in a Taco Bell with my three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. A sweet older woman came up to me and said, “You’ve got your hands full with that one,” nodding to my son. I gave her a slight smile, not sure what to say—though her voice wasn’t laced with judgment. Instead, her face lit up as she recalled her own ‘spirited’ son, who was now well into adulthood.
That night after the kids went to bed, I sat at my computer and started writing—an urge I hadn’t felt in years. I didn’t want to forget how my stomach turned in knots at lunch. How it felt like everyone’s eyes were on me as I chased my son across the gray tile floors, worrying my baby would fall out of the high chair when I turned my back to her.
A few days later, I submitted my story to Her View From Home (a faith-based motherhood blog)—and it was accepted. That ‘yes’ gave me a burst of confidence to keep going. I continued writing in the margins of my days, garnering more acceptances and rejections.
Then, I discovered Exhale—an online community of women that encourages pursuing creativity alongside motherhood. There, I found a community of women I didn’t know I was looking for.
Motherhood reignited my love of writing. Even when I feel wrung out from pouring myself into my family, putting words onto a blank page helps me feel connected to my thoughts and feelings.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”Stephen King
Here are some tips to start writing if you, too, have felt that itch in your fingertips.
Read About Writing
Read books for pleasure, but also about the craft of writing. “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” by Stephen King, “Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers” by Kate Hopper, “Rumors of Water” by L.L. Barkat, and “Still Writing” by Dani Shapiro, are a few to get started.
Study your favorite writers and notice how they weave a story.
Use A Writing Prompt Book
“Kicking in the Wall” is one I keep on my desk.
Cook An Essay
Make a list of what you notice when you’re cooking or baking: the way the oven ticks as it warms up, the sound of your children’s feet hitting the floor, or the way the curtain flutters in the soft breeze. Write down all the sounds, smells, and feelings without trying to tell a story. Later, get out your notes and see what you can make of your observations. (This writing exercise was part of a workshop I took with the writer, Callie Feyen.)
Take A Writing Class
Take online workshops or writing classes through your local college.
Pay attention to websites you’re interested in submitting to. Take note of their writing style and their submission guidelines. (Remember, rejections happen to every writer. The sting hurts a bit less each time.)
Find A Group Of Writers
Find a friend or a group of writers (online or in-person) to share your work with. Receiving edits and feedback from other writers is a great way to improve your writing. (It can be scary and intimidating at first—but it’s worth it.)
Know There Isn’t One Right Way To Be A Writer
Being published isn’t the only way to be a writer. Start a journal for your kids and write stories for them to read later. Set up a blog or a social media page to share your work.
Make The Time
Finding the time to write is one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have as moms. But, even 10 minutes a day adds up. When I’m in a season of getting more sleep, I try to get up an hour before my kids to read and write. In a season where my sleep is interrupted, I try and write during nap time or after the kids go to bed. Once or twice a week, I try exchanging one TV show or scrolling social media for 30 minutes of writing.
Lastly, you don’t have to write seven days a week, holed up in a cabin in the woods to be a writer. Writing often happens for me in the spare minutes while switching a load of laundry, between cooking breakfast and doing the dishes, and while rocking a baby and typing a few notes on my phone. There are weeks I don’t write at all.
A writer once told me, “No one else can write your story.” So, whether you write it now or in five years—your story will still be there.
Because I believe we’re all surrounded by stories.
Stories only we can tell.
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Stacy Bronec @stacybronec
Stacy Bronec is a farm wife, mom of three, lover of baked goods, and writer. She and her husband farm and ranch in the middle of nowhere Montana. In her previous life, she was a high school counselor. Now, when she’s not taking meals to the field or cleaning grain from the dryer vent, she’s doing barre workouts in her kitchen, reading, or scribbling notes to turn into stories. You can find her on her website, stacybronec.com.