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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...



Taped above my desk at eye level is a postcard upon which is printed two words:

"Enjoy walking."

Written in elegant calligraphy by Thich Nhat Han, it is beautiful both artistically and for its simple yet direct message. I should be writing, but instead gaze at the postcard as my thoughts meander from wondering if I should heed the postcard’s advice and take a walk now by myself or perhaps later with my sons, to if I should buy a new pair of Merrells because the tread has worn down significantly which is no doubt negatively affecting my gait so I should probably get orthotics, which, with my new Merrells will enable me to hike carefree for miles and as celebration I should finally follow through on booking one of those organized walking tours along the Amalfi Coast since I’ve been talking for years about….and it’s only when my laptop screen plunges disapprovingly into darkness due to inactivity do I understand I am not enjoying walking, I am not even enjoying writing, I am not enjoying or even doing anything, really. I should go for a walk.

Outside it is perfect. It’s early afternoon, the time of day when sunlight has warmed the floorboards of the front porch so that the air is charged with the sharp scent of cedar. I slowly inhale then exhale, tilting my face skyward and allowing myself the pleasure of this moment until suddenly realizing I am smiling triumphantly, hands balled into fists on my hips, feet planted wide apart, like a superhero. Mortified, I quickly scan the neighboring yards; good, no one witnessed what appears to be some sort of eccentric, role-playing exercise.

I head west along our quiet street, alert for glimpsing some of my favorite birds but instead all is still. I pick up the pace, and beneath my mild restlessness, I feel a rising sense of edginess as I hurry along until my mind pipes up slyly with: Enjoy writing.

And this, of course, is the problem. The maddening push and pull of what I think I should be doing as opposed to what I am doing. If I am sitting at my desk trying to write, I feel like I should be outside. Enjoy walking. In the moment, it suddenly feels right, and I unfold myself from my chair to stretch my legs outside. It’s not long before I begin to feel as if, no, I actually should be home writing right now. Enjoy writing. It’s an exasperating cycle, one that feels uncomfortably like an inability to accept the moment whether it involves writing or walking.

Mercifully, what ultimately happens is this: the walk is the key to getting unstuck. What I nearly always initially attribute to feeling unsatisfied in any current moment is actually the reminder that taking a walk is an integral part of my writing process. Back at my desk, I feel focused, and to my relief and enjoyment, the words flow.


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 so readers can learn more about you and your projects. Read more about submissions to the blog here.

Claire Armstrong is a writer whose creative nonfiction has also appeared in Bella Grace. Originally from Chicago and holding an M.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh, she now lives in beautiful southwest Michigan.  When she is not writing or spending time with her husband and two children, you will find her composing songs on the piano, baking bread or reading at the library.

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This is a conceptually brilliant and artfully composed essay on self-awareness by a thoughtful mother and author. Claire Armstrong reveals her talent for memorable phrases (e.g., "my mind pipes up slyly") that please and stir the imagination. From her statement one knows that Claire will keep walking and writing.
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