I was used to being busy, challenged and stimulated by the work. Then along came motherhood – I was still experiencing all the three things but in a much harder and different way sometimes to the point of exhaustion and tears.
A whole human depended on me for his every need. A part of me was exhilarated at being a mum; another part of me knew I needed mental stimulation and the continued ability to earn my own money. My self confidence and self worth depended on these two crucial aspects.
Writing had always given me a creative outlet for my thoughts and while on maternity leave, I decided to start a part time freelance writing business.
I learnt a few valuable lessons during my first year of freelancing – both good and bad:
1. Running a business and working from home is completely different to being an employee – results are directly proportionate to the number of hours you put in. The failures or successes are only yours to experience. I learnt to celebrate my own successes and failures instead of moaning to my co-worker.
2. In my most frustrating moments, I sometimes lost sight of why I had left my stable job and decided to stay home. I alternated between guilt and relearned to set different priorities. I learnt to identify what was really important and let go of what wasn’t.
3. It took me a few months to go from thinking about just “me” to thinking about “us” – if my son needed me then I left everything and focused on him. I learnt to treasure every moment with my son and developed patience.
4. I started off slowly instead of rushing headlong into trying to write – I attended one evening seminar to get a taste of what freelancing would be like and then did the subsequent courses over a few months. I learnt to think, digest information and make rational decisions.
5. I had to learn how to stop comparing my progress to others’. It was all about approaching one editor at a time and writing one article. I became my own critic and motivator.
6. I had to develop a thick skin to rejections – it took me a while to understand the process. So while the first ten rejections really hurt, I ended up critically analysing my ideas, reworking them and then pitching to publications. I developed the courage to keep getting up after falling down.
7. I was scared, scared of failing and scared of not meeting expectations – then I realised that it wasn’t so much others’ expectations that scared me but my own. I learnt to tone down the high achiever part of me and told the perfectionist in me to learn to accept flaws.
8. I wrote for free at the beginning. I needed clips, the editor needed quality articles. But I refused to diminish my self worth and started pursuing those magazines which paid. The two free clips were a confidence booster and gave me the encouragement to continue. I realised money is not a true measure of my skill.
9. Freelancing is a lonely gig and when you only have a baby for company it can get even more isolating. So I picked a few hours during the week to work. The rest of the time, I enjoyed spending time with my son or caught up with friends. I learnt that time and memories were precious. Time spent with people you love can provide a much needed boost and support.
10. Work can easily take over your life when you’re working from home and when you have a child it becomes even more imperative to set boundaries regarding technology. So while I still struggle with this, I try and not check my emails or Facebook all the time. I learnt that technology doesn’t always make your life easier; and tomorrow if all the apps, Facebook, Twitter would disappear, I could still earn a living with my writing as I’d have tons of time left over!
Has motherhood made you a better writer?