I wrote this piece back in 2016, a few months before my first book, Breathe, Mama, Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms, was due out in the world. Much like motherhood, creating books has been a wonderful, wild, enlightening ride. After five years and one more published book later, the lessons still ring true.
My Top 10 ways writing a book is like having a baby:
Mindfulness is challenging. Living mindfully while writing a book on mindful motherhood is, at times, quite the challenge, occasionally even an impossible oxymoron. Same with mindfully parenting actual, live children. It would be so much easier to be a calm, mindful mama if there were no colicky newborns or teenage eye rolls involved!
Obsession reigns. During pregnancy, there is near-constant thought about the precious, tiny creature growing inside. Did I eat enough? Has she moved lately? Is it physically possible the baby has decided to nap on my bladder? Again? Likewise, I’d venture to guess that at any point during those long winter months of manuscript writing, my mind wandered some ninety percent of the time to my book. When thoughts weren’t focused on prose, know what took up what little real estate was left in my mind? Yes, of course — the kids.
Patience is required. The majority of the book publishing process moves very slowly — sort of like attempting to dress, feed, and change an infant in a timely fashion. It takes twice as long as you imagined it would and is only the slightest bit under your control. Lots of deep breaths are invaluable in both cases.
The learning curve is enormous. My foray into the publishing industry included learning a whole new vocabulary. A pub date is not, in fact, sharing a cold microbrew with your honey, but the anticipated release date of your book. Likewise, in the foreign land of newborns, one discovers breast pumps and swaddling and sleep deprivation, oh my!
Clothes get tight. Weight is gained. Sitting to write for hours upon end caused me to gain five pounds in two months. It took twice that time to lose it. Book weight, baby weight. Eventually activity returns to normal and so does the scale.
Emotions vary wildly. From, I freaking love this! to What in the world was I thinking? pretty much covers it. Pride, amazement, utter fear and paralysis, doubt and mother’s instinct all make an appearance, sometimes all in unison.
You have no idea what you are getting into. Had I known four years ago how the book process would unfold, I might have been too overwhelmed to begin writing at all. Conversely, I had no idea how rewarding it would be or how proud and invested I would become. Ditto for motherhood.
Advice is offered. Well-intentioned people like to warn of the various challenges headed your way. Dr. Spock would say, You know more than you think you do, and he would be right. Following our instincts is vital. We are capable of so much more than we realize — in both parenting and creativity.
What was once taken for granted transforms overnight into a hot commodity. Meditation, exercise, and sleep — necessary not only for the creative flow but also for basic sanity in new motherhood — are difficult to come by. Naps and coffee, therefore, rule the day.
Nine to ten months gestation. From the time I turned in my manuscript to the time my book appears on the shelf was equivalent to the gestational period of each of my human babies.
My human babies are somehow now twenty and ten years old, my literary ones five and two. I like to think I continue to accumulate a bit more wisdom along the way:
We pour our hearts and souls into creating the books and raising our babies. As they launch, there is both an ache of letting go and a poignant sense of hope—that they pay forward all of the love, privilege, and kindness devotedly poured into them; that they accomplish what it is they purposefully set out to do; that their existence makes the world a better place for generations to come; and that, hopefully, just hopefully, we might have had a hand in it.