How to be a writing mum: the career coach method

‘Be determined because to do so will nourish you, your creativity and also your child‘ Rebecca Hartnell, Daemon Career Coach

Rebecca Hartnell, Daemon Career CoachRebecca Hartnell is a specialist in career coaching, leadership development and clinical supervision. Through her business Daemon Career Coach she provides support for individuals and organisations in transition.

She is mum to a seven year old boy. In addition to blogging every other day about issues related to career and personal development Rebecca is writing a book on the subject, developing a unique and revolutionary approach to personal, professional and organisational development.

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in your writing life since having children? Is this different or the same as the writing challenge(s) you faced pre-motherhood?

Interestingly it’s only since I had children that I felt I had anything to write about. I don’t mean that I hadn’t lived a full life until the age of 38 when I first became a mum (I won’t even begin to tell you what I got up to), but I actually began to write as response to the enormity of motherhood.

I was so full of gratitude and awe and conversely the extremes of feelings caused by sleep deprivation that I didn’t want to let any of it slip away unnoticed. Having never wanted children, to have had the hormones kick in and been overwhelmed by my desire to have them, only to have access denied by three years of trying, I was on a rollercoaster before I even began. Writing was a way of reflecting and processing all those emotions.

When I trained as a clinical supervisor I had to do a reflexive diary EVERY DAY (!) for 6 months. The only way I could do that was to tap it out in my phone as the 18 month old sat on my lap facing CBeebies.

Did I feel guilty? Yes! Did I have limited time? Yes! Did I write perfectly? No! The small person constraints helped hugely with my inner critic. There was no time for that nonsense, I had to show up and write or my tutor would’ve had my guts for garters… and through this I learned to gain access to an inner resource way deep inside of me. I gained access more and more swiftly. Practice makes perfect huh?

2. When do you write? Do you have a specific, regular routine?

Over the past six years the way I write has changed but the attitude I show up with is the same. What’s different is that instead of writing every single day, I write one day and edit and post the blog the next. That’s been with some professional encouragement (thanks Rebecca!). That takes better care of the quality and the presentation of the content.

Writing the book (I’m half way through) takes place in the old manner. I have 25 minutes before the household awakes for the day and I show up at the page (phone, or lap top) and I write. Once again there is absolutely no time for the inner critic to get in my way.

‘show up and write’

What I have learned is to that even if I have no subject for a blog, all I have to do is to begin writing. If I only have a header for a chapter, all I have to do is show up and write. What I have learned from the discipline of showing up a writing is that I know way more inside than I ever think I will. It is the very process of putting the words on the page that enables me to access the wisdom I hold.

It is about routine, discipline and about getting out of my head and into my body… I consider my blog subjects as I walk on the school run. There is something about reflecting on the coaching I have provided each day, as I stomp through familiar territory on the way to the school gates, that enables me to say ‘aha’ that’s the subject I need to write about next. I can often be found poised at the school perimeter, tapping out my blog into an email, one fingered, before I lose the tail of the thought when the boy appears.

What I also need to repeatedly do is to engage with the process and entirely let go of the outcome. I show up to write about one subject but by the time I have finished the end result may near very little resemblance to the content I had envisioned! I guess that bit isn’t up to me…

3. What is the single most useful or helpful thing you’ve found that has enabled you to write despite the challenges posed? What would be your top tip for mothers who are struggling to maintain their creative life as well as be awesome mums?

Actively challenge your guilt about wanting, indeed needing, some creative time for yourself by actually doing it. Motherhood is awesome. Motherhood is also full of the same old repetitive tasks that would drive any human insane if we did these alone.

Carve out the time for yourself to nourish that side of you. The child of a bored and resentful mother will hardly flourish! If you have a partner then agree they will have the small person for a very regular period of time, every day, even if they don’t understand why. The father of our boy STILL has no clue about the importance of those rituals for me, after 8 years. And, I have ceased to justify it. I simply ensure that I do get it.

Feed your creativity. In order to write or paint we need to have seen beauty or felt pain or be angry enough at an injustice to have the desire share it. Somehow, anyhow, feed the creative you. Put on those tunes, take yourself and your child to those beautiful places, download that film and save it for a nap time to savour alone. Indulging in those guilty pleasures is essential, even if you have 20 minutes less sleep in order to do so, keep doing just a little of those things that made you who you were before motherhood was even a thing in your world. Be determined because to do so will nourish you, your creativity and also your child….

You can find out more about Rebecca and the work she does as well as read and sign up to follow her blogs via her website Daemon Career Coach. You can also connect with Rebecca via LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @DaemonCoach


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