MumWrite will be beginning a MumWrite Spotlight feature, which will be posted 2-4 times per month. In these posts, a mum who writes will answer three specific questions about their writing practices.
In the first post, I will share my own answers to these questions and show you how it works. I hope you find these useful for your writing practices and with knowing you are part of an important and large community of mums who want to create writing despite the pressures of their everyday lives.
Here's the MumWrite Spotlight #1 by yours truly, Nikki Dudley!
I have two children - Ethan (4) and Caleb (2).
You can read more about Nikki on her personal website or the ABOUT page.
Who and what inspires you?
I'm inspired by many things - music, films and TV, and the poetry I try to read in between the madness of parenting. For instance, I recently read Dorothy by Briony Hughes (Broken Sleep), which was a great exploration of the forgotten women who were involved with construction along the Thames. Some of the images and ideas in this have really stuck with me. So, succinctly, I'm inspired by other poets' work, how they can change my way of thinking and make me think about subjects and ideas I may not have thought about before. In some ways, I would say that I'm more inspired by reading poetry but I also read fiction that sticks with me too. One of my favourite short story writers, for example, is Charles Yu, who is constantly playing with form, expectations and reality. I'm also inspired by the people around me - the conversations we have, the way words are understood and misunderstood, playfulness that occurs in the midst of normal life, and so on. If I'm struggling to feel inspired, I may use a prompt or try to force myself to write something (whatever it may be) and eventually it begins to flow.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
I have to make time and neglect other things. Being a writer can be a selfish hobby in some senses, though all hobbies can be viewed that way! Though when I don't write, the world makes much less sense to me, therefore I see writing as a form of self-care and release that I feel is necessary. The first few years with my kids have been challenging in terms of time and there was a period when I hardly wrote at all, but I've always tried to find ways to type things into my phone, or write a tiny bit while they slept or were being looked after by someone else, even editing something old just so I'm focusing on words and stories. Now the kids are getting slightly older and one of them is in school, I've negotiated a bit of time per week with my partner and father-in-law, which is so important! It often means I have to choose between work and writing but sometimes I sneak in a bit of writing in the evening or at weekends, especially if I need to write to create resources or examples for workshops I'm delivering. In some ways, developing MumWrite has given me more reasons to be writing, which is a happy side-benefit for me!
Which writing activities kickstart your writing when you're struggling?
I'm always a sucker for found material when I'm struggling. Borrowing someone else's works and adapting them or using them as a springboard is such a great way to get your writing blood flowing. I also love cut ups and reimagining meanings from my perspective. Picking up someone else's work (as I mentioned above) can also get you thinking and may lead to something you want to write about. Sometimes I'll use a photograph or an object to start from; if I start from a list or describing something, it can feel like an easier way to begin. It might not always lead to something else but it reduces my writer's guilt at the very least.
See you next time for more insights from a guest writer!