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Review: Writer Mama

Review: Writer Mama

Title: Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids

Author: Christina Katz

Publisher: Writers Digest Books, 2009

writermamaI’ve had a copy of this book sitting next to my computer for months now because I wanted to write a review for you, but ironically, I’ve been too busy and too distracted to actually write it. It’s gotten to the point of ridiculousness, though, and if I don’t write this review now, I’m going to forget all the things I wanted to tell you, so, here goes.

You already know, I’m sure, that a lot of people (women especially) are trying to make a living by writing these days. It seems like such a simple thing to do–you can sit at home with your kids and, with minimal access to email and the telephone, can earn money to help support your family.

It’s not as simple as it sounds, though, and while there are a number of excellent books out there with advice on how to freelance, this one focuses on how to do so while raising your children.

Which means that, in between solid tips about how to write a cover letter, or finding an article topic, you get tips for finding the time to write (during naptime, or when your kids are playing). Advice on connecting with other writers so you won’t feel isolated. A discussion on the pros and cons of using childcare. You know, tips that a non-parent doesn’t necessarily need–and can’t find in those other books.

Now, my only child is of the four-legged, barking variety, so a lot of the mom-related advice in here doesn’t really apply to me. Dogs are a lot more self-sufficient than a human child, and you can’t go to jail if you have to leave them at home on their own for a few hours, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find some good advice in this book.

The writing focus leans strongly on the “write articles for magazines” side, and the author goes into detail about cover letters, relationships with editors, and how to find ideas. All solid advice that I’ve also read other places. But other books don’t have the helpful, friendly asides to help the stay-at-home-mom adapt her lifestyle to not just being a mom, but to being a freelance writer mom.

Quibbles? Honestly, content-wise I can’t think of any. I’ve read some freelancing books that go into more detail on some specific topics, but this touches on all the important ones I can think of. I like the friendly tone, and the frequent sidebars have some of the most creative tips.

My biggest quibble is actually the physical format of the book. First, there’s the odd, almost-square size that makes it awkward to fit in a pile of other books. The spine juts out from its mates, but it’s too short to match the others in height, so it doesn’t play well with the others on my crowded, double-decker bookshelf.

And while I like the teal accents in the pages themselves and find the font easy to read, and all, there are no section headers on the page to tell you which chapter you’re in, making it hard to flip through, looking for a specific page. (Yes, there’s an index, but sometimes all you remember is that it “Was in the section on editorial guidelines” and need to browse.) But, hey, if the worst thing I can say about the book is that I didn’t like the shape and wanted better signposts?

Definitely a book worth looking into.

2 thoughts on “Review: Writer Mama

  1. Michaele

    Hmmm…I think I will keep an eye out for this book. I have worked at home as a medical transcriptionist/writer while raising 3 kids (they were 3, 1 and a newborn when I started working at home…now they are 18, 16 and 14) so it will be interesting to “compare notes” with the author. Thanks for the recommendation!