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Mother’s Block — Shouldn’t You Be Writing Right Now?

  • 5 min read

It’s not a myth. It’s something writing mothers experience all the time.

I read a lot of self-help articles about ‘writer’s block’. But have you ever experienced ‘Mother’s block’?

‘Mother’s block’ is a term I’ve coined to describe

‘a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which a female author is unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown due to her mommy duties.’

In April, I made it my business to hit the keys and write at least one article every two days. By May it’s become a completely different story. My pages remain blank. I can’t put pen to paper. I’m plagued by ‘Mother’s block’.

While Mother’s block is a common experience for female writers and creatives who have children, some psychologists claim that it’s just a myth and not a psychological condition at all.

What does Mother's block feel like?

The exact details can manifest differently for different mother writers, but symptoms may include the inability to sit down for a few minutes to write an article, to focus on a topic because you’re being interrupted every five minutes and then, ultimately, to give up. It leaves you feeling mentally foggy stressed and frustrated.

What causes Mother’s block?

The Mother’s block may be produced by adverse circumstances in a mother’s life such as sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, the end of breastfeeding, sleepless nights, mother burnout, mental load or a sense of failure in parenting.

Is it normal to have Mother's block?

The reason why it’s so hard to get started writing again varies greatly from person to person. It’s not because mothers have a lack of inspiration. In fact, the opposite is true. Our heads are filled to the brim with ideas, thoughts, suggestions and interesting topics, but unfortunately, our crazy family-funk doesn’t allow us to take the time to write them all.

Plenty of ideas coming to me at night, when my baby wakes up and then falls asleep again, but I can’t write them down because turning on the light would disturb him. I have the willingness to sit down, I really do, but I can’t. The laundry is piling up. The baby is screaming and so on.

How long does Mother’s Block last?

It can last for a day. It can last for a growth spurt but it can also last for a longer period of time. Some moms tell they couldn’t write for over a year. But no matter how long it lasts, Mother’s block is painful.

The good news is that Mother’s block isn’t as grave as you might think: it’s a temporary condition! It may last as long as your child is a baby, a toddler, a teenager, but then some day, he/she will move out and you’ll again find the time to write down your thoughts.

Unfortunately, by then, you’ll probably have forgotten most of it.

What’s the counterpart?

There are some days in the life of a young mother when her child sleeps through the night and doesn’t wake up because he is sleeping deeply. If you know when that time has come, you can sit down at your kitchen table, put pen to paper and write a series of articles.

Sometimes I also have the feeling I could write a whole novel (about parenting). That’s the best thing that can happen to you, some may say. At my peak, I can stay up till midnight till my eyelids droop and I fall into a narcotic sleep.

So the bizarre counterpart is ‘Mother ’hypergraphia’

when your child gives you the time to experience a phase of heightened creativity.

There is this compulsive need to scrawl away constantly, scribbling on notebooks, and napkins. You would even write on walls or skin.

How to defeat and break out of Mother’s Block?

Take a long drive with your partner

Let your mom babysit your baby and take a long drive with your special person. While your partner is driving, make notes on your smartphone by being inspired by the conversation you’re having or by the landscape.

Write yourself out of it

As I’m sitting at the kitchen table writing these lines, I’m in a hyper-creative phase. I’ve put my child to bed and can let my creative juices flow. Write as many (imperfect) articles as possible before your eyelids droop.

Try to get as much sleep as possible

When I first had my baby, I found out I’m an epic sleeper. I normally need eight to nine hours a night. My creative process is all about a good sleep. If I haven’t slept at all, my writing really suffers. That’s why you have to share the night-shifts with your partner in order to get some sleep.

Let your partner give you a break

He takes your child out and leaves you in an empty, calm apartment with a hot tea and laptop. Awesome! Mother’s Block is cured immediately.

Leave the house and get physical

If you have a baby, take it for a walk in the pram until it falls asleep and sit on a bench. If your child is older, take it outside and let it run around so that it sleeps during the day and goes to bed in the evening without grumbling.

Never stop writing

In my opinion, the worst thing is to accept Mother’s block and resign yourself to your fate. Writing is your life. It’s your self-fulfillment. You feel the muse within you and all the story ideas that need to be shared. Never. Stop. Writing!

Wrapping it up

Go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Be kind. Give yourself a (long) break, and have faith that the growth spurt / teething / sleepless nights / (add whatever you want) will end one day.

Your writing muse is always there.

Dear Writing Moms,

Never stop writing! Your Mother’s Block isn’t here to stay.

Remember, tomorrow could be a new writing day.

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