How do I write now, as a mum?

by Kristina Gavran

When you go for a writing workshop, most of them will start with a simple writing exercise – you have 5 minutes and you just have to write without stopping. The only rule is that you cannot move pencil from the paper (or fingers from your keyboard). They also say you should start your writing every day like that, and then move on to the „real writing“. But what happens when you do not have time for „real writing“ and the stream of consciusness becomes the only method of writing?


This is exactly how I feel since becoming a mother. This is how I have been writing lately, this is how this blog post will be written, this is my reality. I spend all morning chasing my baby; I feed him, change nappies, play with him, read, sing….I make so many mental notes during the day. Because I know…around eleven he will get tired and he will sleep for one to one and a half hours. And that is my precious time to write.

I leave him in his bed and I run to the laptop hidden in my wardrobe (he noticed there is something special about the laptop and he loves playing with it, so I can’t even open it in front of him). I turn the laptop on in panic, I open the new word document and I just start, without thinking.

Before, when I was still a student of dramaturgy and playwriting, I would stretch my writing process to infinity. I would make myself a cup of coffee, clean the table, put everything in order (which also helped me clear the mind), then stare at the white screen for some time. I would write the first sentence, think about it for some time, erase it, go and make myself a snack, stare again at the white screen, write again a first sentence…. at the end of the day I would have a couple of pages. I would edit, think about each word, read it out loud just to hear how it sounds, edit again…and again. What luxury!

Now I have only one rule – don’t move your fingers from the keyboard! Write as much as possible in a short time, don’t think, don’t go back, you will edit later. I am writing surrounded by mega bricks, talking puppies, plastic cars and picture books. My table is in mess, I don’t care. My tea is getting cold next to me, I don’t care. I have no time to sip from cup, I can’t move my fingers because it would stop the stream of (un)consciousness. With the corner of my eye I notice I made a typo in the previous sentence, but I don’t care. I have no time to go back. I check the clock in panic….he will wake up. I have to hurry! My battle with time is giving me strength to continue.

At the end of the day I think; is this still art? Is my writing of any quality when it is written like this, in panic? Should I just give up? How can you be a writer and a full-time mum?

But then I conclude; I cannot go without writing. So, if this is the only way at the moment, let it be. Yes, my sentences are not as beautiful and thoughtful as they used to be, but they are „more real“. And if in art history we had Baroque, Classicism, Naturalism and even Dadaism (influenced by baby talk among other things) then why can’t we have „more real mother writing“? I will write a manifesto of this new direction in literature and call it MWIP (Mother Writing in Panic). Let’s start a movement! Wait a minute….my baby just has.


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