Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Discipline


A Guest Post

Resolving to Write
by Melanie Springer Mock

For years, calling myself a writer was problematic. I mean, I wanted to be a writer, and liked the idea of having written. Yet when I said, "I'm a writer," I felt a bit of a fraud--especially when claiming this identity to my students. Sure, I was a writing teacher, and had the credentials, the job, and the late-night grading sessions to prove it. But to be a writer, one actually had to write regularly. Right?

Just before January 2010, I decided to end my fraudulent ways and begin the task of actually developing a writing discipline. My New Year's resolution for 2010 was to write 250 words a day, no matter what--to make space for myself in the midst of parenting and teaching and a million other things. The number itself seemed arbitrary, and there was no magic in the 250 word prescription, save that 250 words equaled one typewritten page, the same length I required for daily writing assignments from my students.

Like most folks, my News Year's resolutions--eat less candy! Enough of the Diet Coke!--lose steam by mid-January; by February 15, I'm buying ½ priced Necco hearts at Walgreens, hiding them in my kitchen, then washing them down with soda pop when my two boys are in bed. This writing resolution stuck, though, and for two-and-a-half years now, I've written 250 or more a day, every day.

The writing isn't always good, nor are my writing times ideal. I've written in bed after a long night's sickness, and while riding in the car, with squirmy boys in the backseat. Recently, on a family trip to Asia, I wrote 500 words on a trans-Pacific flight, not sure when one day ended and another began. At least twice, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I remembered I hadn't written, so dragged myself from bed and wrote, begrudgingly.

Like most streaks, I'm sure this one will end some day, when I weary of my writing practice becoming too rote and legalistic. For now, the resolution has done what it intended: I've become more disciplined, and have written enough material to feel like I am truly a writer. My next goal? Adding revision to my routine, so that the mass of material I've written in the last two-and-a-half years can take more decisive shape.

Join our After Page One series. We're looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we'd love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude. The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We'll publish a short bio at the bottom of your post so readers can learn more about you and your projects.

Melanie Springer Mock is a Professor in the Department of English at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, and mother to two ten-year-old boys. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Christian Feminism Today, Adoptive Families, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mennonite Weekly Review,and Literary Mama, among other places. Her most recent book is Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World, published this year. She blogs about (and deconstructs) images of women embedded in Christian popular culture at Ain’t I a Woman.

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Thanks for this, Melanie. I too have struggled with calling myself a writer, but feel less fraudulent doing so when I actually spend time, you know, writing. I wish us both luck and fortitude as we bang away on the keyboard and, in the meantime, I toast you with an icy Diet Coke.
I have been through the same things. It is hard. I find myself saying I am a teacher and writer, like pairing it with something else makes it different...I don't know. I sneak my writing in the morning. I drop off the kids at daycare twenty to thirty minutes when I get to work I can sit in my car and scribble away before actually going to work. If I don't schedule the time, it may never get done. I have four kids (2-almost 2 year olds, a 3 year old, and a 7 year old). Sometimes I even make a date with myself to treat myself to Starbucks and write.
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