Self-care for Mom Writers: October is for Believing in Ourselves

Amy Mercer

By Amy Mercer

I’ve noticed that when I meet new people and they ask what I do, I tend to shrug my shoulders and mumble about being a writer. It drives me crazy every time I do it, and I wonder what happened to my pride, my confidence…yet I can’t seem to stop. I also use those phrases when I’m getting ready to head out for my early morning runs. I always tell my husband and kids, “I’m just going for a quick run,” which totally minimizes my effort, hard work, and dedication. I remember a class I took in college called “Women Writers,” and the first thing the female professor said was that no one could begin a question with, “This may be a dumb question but.” Ever since she mentioned it, I’ve noticed just how often women tend to downplay their efforts or intelligence. So, I decided that October is for believing in ourselves. Here’s how to up your confidence:

  • Introduce yourself as a writer to friends. Stand with your back straight and hold your chin high and repeat after me, “I am a freelance writer.” The more times you do it, the more comfortable you will be, and before long, you’ll realize you no longer shrug or make a joke about your career. You may even find yourself submitting more queries and entering more contests because you have come out of your writer’s closet.
  • Read, “The Ambition Condition, women, writing and the problem of success” by Anna Clark in the fall issue of Bitch magazine. Ms. Clark writes, “By not owning up to her ambitions-whether they are in the public or private realms-a writer feeds the machine that discounts the aspirations and talents of all women writers.” This essay made me get up off the couch and grab a highlighter; it is a call to action for women writers. The more comfortable you become with your ambitions, the better you’ll feel, the more you will believe in the time you spend away from your family, your housework, your friends pouring your heart into your writing life.
  • Register for a 5 or 10 k, tell your friends and family about it and ask them to come and cheer you on. Once you have people to answer to, there’s no way you’ll back down. Or start small, like me, and when you head out the door in the morning, afternoon, evening (or whenever you can grab thirty minutes to yourself)…tell the people you leave behind that you are going for a run (not a “quick one”), a walk, a yoga class, or a bike ride (whatever gets your heart rate up).

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Amy S. Mercer is a freelance writer living in Charleston, SC with her husband and two sons. Her writing has been published in skirt! Magazine, Literary Mama, Diabetes Forecast and A Cup of Comfort for Writers. Amy is Blog Editor for Literary Mama and Associate editor for The Writer Mama Zine. More at Dreaming About Water.

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8 Responses to “Self-care for Mom Writers: October is for Believing in Ourselves”


  1. 1 kferrell October 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    This is so true! As women, we are taught to downplay our abilities and opinions. I read once that women use more qualifiers, such as “it’s just me” or “I suppose that’s true.” We knock ourselves down falsely in the hope that someone else will pick us up – self-made damsels in distress.

    Good luck in your writing career! Never lose your confidence.

    Kimberlee

  2. 2 Kathryn October 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    You don’t have to be paid or making the big bucks to declare you are a writer. And the more you hear yourself say it then the easier it will be to say it!

    My greatest moment in my freelance career to date is when someone ELSE said “yea, but you are a writer.” Just thinking about that sentence still warms my blood.

  3. 3 anniegirl1138 October 17, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I have just recently began introducing myself as a writer or when asked “what do you do?” I reply, “I write.”

    People always seem impressed even though my only writing so far has appeared online.

  4. 4 Janine October 18, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Oh, I can so relate to this post. I only proclaimed my status as an official “writer” this year. I can’t wait to read The Ambition Condition…

  5. 5 Cara October 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    It took my first few writings appearing in print before I could look people in the eye when they asked me what I did for a living, and tell them I was a freelance writer working from home.

    I know better than that now. I am a writer simply by virtue of the fact that I choose to write. The publication credits are just icing on the cake.

  6. 6 Lisa Damian October 21, 2008 at 5:55 am

    So true!

    When I was in my former professional career, I had no problem saying that I was a Dean or a Registrar or a Consultant (with the first letter capitalized), as if having a business card and a regular paycheck in a traditionally man’s world somehow solidified my ownership of the job title, but it took a whole lot of published articles, a nonfiction book, and book signing events before I felt comfortable telling people that I was a writer. I still have a hard time saying that I’m writing a novel.

    It’s weird. I was always straight forward and confident in my ambitions before taking a step back from my conservative career path to be a Mom and a writer. I feel like I need a published novel in hand before I will be totally comfortable wearing the label “Writer” (with a capital “W”), but I know that I should more fully embrace my own craft. It’s not only what I do — It’s who I am.


  1. 1 All Freelance Writing: Your Freelance Writing Resource: » Freelance Friday - October 17, 2008 Trackback on October 17, 2008 at 9:10 am
  2. 2 But what about the ladies? « Charlottesville Words Trackback on October 17, 2008 at 9:33 am
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