September is for Starting Over/Writer Mama
By Amy Mercer

Amy Mercer

We’ve made it through the summer, mamas! I can’t speak for everyone, but I know many mamas who have given themselves over to entertaining children at the beach, in the movies, on the trails of mountains, at children’s museums, the aquarium, the neighborhood pool and as camp chauffeurs. Summer is the time when taking care of ourselves–our bodies and our writing–seems to slip.

Now that it is fall again, now that our children are back on a schedule, it’s time to step back in line, time to get back to business. It’s time to get up early and go for a run before dropping the kids off at school, time to walk past the dishes in the sink, the unmade beds and sit down Brush the cobwebs off, call that muse back to her station and get to work.

Move your Muscles. My husband and I have been watching the Olympics after we put the kids to bed at night, and while I’m proud to call myself a “writer,” I know that the act of writing is no spectator sport. As a thirty-seven year old mother of two, I’ve enjoyed watching Olympians Dara Torres (41) and Constantina Tomescu-Dita (38) compete with athletes half their age. Most of the writers I know push their minds more than their bodies as they sit in front of computers for long stretches of time without moving a muscle. I’ve queried several writing colleagues of mine about how they move their muscles while they work. One colleague says she sets the kitchen timer to go off every fifteen minutes which reminds her to stop her work, get up and stretch. Another writing friend makes deals with herself for writing time, for example, she can only sit down to write after she has been to her yoga class. I try to run every morning and when I return, I sit at my computer in my running clothes, which keeps me from reaching for that piece of banana bread. Think of Dara and Constantina as you write, mamas, and don’t forget to push your body as well as your mind.

Write about women athletes for inspiration, women who you admire for the way they push past their physical limits. Find a local female “celebrity” who has accomplished an impressive physical feat and ask for an interview. For example, there is a local woman who swam across the English Channel a few years back, I remember reading in the local paper about how she found time to train in between being a mother and a harpist in the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Thinking of Kathleen Wilson swimming in the cold harbor-water every day made it easier for me to go for my morning run and edit that essay.

Make Muse-worthy Music. My sister listens to upbeat music on her ipod while she pushes her double jogger every morning because it drowns out the chatter of her children and allows her a little zen time. Download some favorite songs and listen to them while you write, you might find your muse in the lyrics and you might just get up and dance around the room every time the kitchen buzzer goes off…speaking of, there goes mine, it’s time for me to stretch!

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