Monday, March 14, 2011

Writing for a Mother's Heart by Janet Chester Bly

Janet Chester Bly is here all month for Manuscript Mondays to share tips on writing for women. This week--writing for a mother's heart. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, she has wisdom to share. Enjoy!

Writing for a Mother's Heart*
by Janet Chester Bly

My husband Stephen had a proposal accepted by Moody Press for his book, How To Be A Good Dad. I warned him that I could never do a follow-up for moms. I had a lot of insecurities about motherhood. To try to live up to “how to be a good mom” rattled me.

When the offer finally came, I asked to co-author with hubby, that’s how I handled it. Later, when I got a chance to write If My Kids Drive Me Crazy, Am I A Bad Mom?, I could live with this title.

Writing for mothers requires your most gut-level sharing.

What’s Your Story?

First, dig out your journal. Reflect on your experiences.
Second, don’t threaten anyone else’s privacy or comfort level.
Third, listen to your heart—what about mothering is important to you?
Fourth, has anything you’ve tried worked for you?
Fifth, can you back your premises with research?
Sixth, step up your style. Cut the schmaltz. Throw out creative lifelines for the most overworked, often under-trained segment of our society.

Who Is Your Reader?
Determine what sort of Mom for whom you will write. Is she a . . .

Stay-At-Home Mom. . .who may struggle with living on one income.

Homeschooler Mom. . .who centers her life on the care and education of her children.

Career Mom. . .who takes care of her kids in between appointments, conference calls, office hours.

Mom Who Needs Time With Her Peers. . .she’s looking for moms’ groups, support outlets, social outings.

Single Mom. . .loneliness, sexual issues, paying the bills, kids feeling wanted.

Mom With ‘Doing Marriage’ Challenges. . .spouse priorities during parenting years, becoming a couple-centered relationship.

Mom with Babies. . .after LaMaze there’s lactation, toilet training, childcare, to work or not to work.

Mom of School-Aged Kids. . .Kindergarten Readiness Skills, angst for parents who are competitive, ADD & ADHD, birth order, identifying kids with risk factors, dealing with guilt--how can she have the career she wants, a great marriage and still be a good mother?

Mom of Teens. . .survival tips for keeping sanity, dealing with critical social issues.

Who’s Slipping Through the Cracks?
Look around you—whose needs aren’t being met?

The Not Quite Empty Nest Mom. . .when her grown kids keep returning home.**

Moms With Problem Kids. . .strong wills, out-of-control, me-centered, criminal tendencies, prodigals

The 24/7 Nursemaid Mom. . .caregivers of handicapped or ill kids.

Mom as Spiritual Being. . .may not be able to read her Bible on a regular basis, needs simple systems of spiritual disciplines.

Moms Overwhelmed. . .unfaithful spouse, addictions, weight problems.

The Changing Family. . .stay-at-home dads, parents working alternate shifts, women choosing to stay single but with children.

Are You Qualified?
Readers want advice from experts. Experts are a) those with degrees and careers, b) those with five children or more who still have stamina to write a book, c) those with special needs children who are willing to share secrets.

If you aren’t an expert, be sure to interview some pros in the field. Or rely on other respected resources with quotes or stats.

The main sources for your topics will come from other moms. Listen to their questions. Pay attention to comments. Record the stories you hear.


Janet Chester Bly has authored 12 books and co-authored 18 others with husband, Stephen, including How To Be A Good Mom, available at Get a free study guide download of If My Kids Drive Me Crazy, Am I A Bad Mom at Also check out our blog:

* copyright 2005, 2011
** sample book: Just Because They’ve Left Doesn’t Mean They’re Gone, Stephen Bly, later retitled, Once a Parent, Always a Parent.

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