Stop thinking like a stay at home mom, and start thinking like a small business.

Sorry about dropping the ball on last week’s blog post. A house full of company over Thanksgiving had me behind on everything, and since I had a proposal due by week’s end, I had to focus all my energy on getting some words on paper. Believe it or not, however, my messing up feeds into this week’s musing.

Please don’t take offense by the subhead. I was a stay at home mom for many years and know full well, the time and work that goes into raising a child. But my son, Tattoo, is fully grown and in college now which is the whole reason for these “turning 50” posts. The stay at home mom part of me is no longer required. I am, now, a full-time writer.

Problem is, I still think like a stay-at-home mom. Other mothers will know what I mean by this – I still have that drop-everything and be flexible mentality that I needed when Tattoo was around. We need a car appointment? Let me rearrange my schedule. Someone’s birthday is tomorrow? Better run out and pick up a gift. Christmas is around the corner? Time to haul out the decorations. (Okay, that last one would happen whether I was home or not; I love Christmas.)

My point is that while I want to make writing a priority, my job frequently ends up getting chopped into small time blocks while I fit in all the other day-to-day activities. Part of the problem is that over the years, being at home has led to my husband and I adapting a very traditional marriage. At the time, it made sense to take on the cleaning and home management because I was at home, and because, while I was writing, I wasn’t published. Thus, in my mind, writing wasn’t a full time job.

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Note that I said IN MY MIND because there are a lot of people who would disagree with this mindset. Looking back, I wish I had disagreed as well because then I wouldn’t be faced with retraining and renegotiating the status quo after twenty-five years of marriage. In many ways I envy my younger colleagues. They aren’t hamstringed by traditional ideas the way I was. Their mothers taught them to be confident and assertive, to demand equal partnership in their marriage even when their writing careers weren’t making money. As a result, their careers are leaps and bounds ahead of mine. Perhaps, had I been more like them, it wouldn’t have taken me sixteen years to break through.

Unfortunately, you can’t change the past. I can, however, change the present. The other day, my friend Susan Meier remarked that we aren’t simply full-time writers, but small business owners. As such, we have an obligation to keep plan, schedule and budget. You wouldn’t catch a store owner shutting down in the middle of the day because the dog needed grooming, would you? I need to start behaving the same way.

Where do I start? Well, lucky me, we’re at the end of the year. December is the perfect time to start laying out things like budgets and marketing plans. I also need to start keeping a better writing schedule, with daily word counts and goals. And I need to be less flexible. I need to start talking to my husband about expectations. He has said countless times that he’s willing to be more flexible so long as he knows the arrangements in advance. The stumbling block, I’ve come to discover, is my reluctance to give up my caretaker identity.

Huh – give up my caretaker identity. Guess I know the first step after all. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Till next week – Barb

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