- The Arts
I made 10,000 dollars as a freelance writer, speaker, and stay-at-home mom this year and I’m going to tell you how I did it. I can’t promise my system will work for you but here goes—I worked really hard.
I’d love to say it was the Bulletproof Coffee (It’s not. I can’t even drink it.). I wish I could say I always write before my kids wake up, and edit between while my big girl is at school and my little one naps. The kids don’t sleep past 6 a.m., and I’m not that organized. I can’t say it’s my bullet journal, either. It’s just a jumble of tasks and reminders about deadlines, school pajama days, and dentist appointments.
I know my “method” isn’t cool or sexy or what you wanted to hear, but it’s real. I know I’m not supposed to discuss money, let alone announce how much I’ve earned. And I know women aren’t supposed to celebrate their accomplishments. We’re supposed to deflect praise, give other people the credit, and act like it’s no big deal.
But this is a big deal. When I calculated my earnings for my quarterly taxes on my un-fancy spreadsheet I thought, “YEAH!”
Yeah, because it was with no small amount of “Who do I think I am?” that I aspired to get paid to write five years ago. I was an occupational therapist with a blog and a baby, and I loved to write, but I didn’t imagine that after I had my second kid my scrubs would stay in a storage box and that I’d eventually say I was a writer without feeling like a fraud.
Yeah, because last year I had one kid in preschool from 7:55 to 10:40 a.m. and one kid home with me. Four days a week, I dropped my eldest at preschool, then schlepped my little one to the gym, where I’d wait ten minutes for childcare to open, leave her, then hide in the cafe with my laptop until 10:15.
Yeah, because this year I have one kid in preschool and one in all-day kindergarten, and although most of the other moms complain about the schedule, I don’t. You can get a lot done in that short window of quiet, child-free time when you focus.
Yeah, because my only child care beyond the precious overlap between kindergarten and preschool is a sitter who comes three hours a week. I struggle with whether I deserve her, whether a good mom would forgo this luxury and stay up late to work instead.
Yeah, because I’ve read eleventy million articles and heard 99 podcasts on how to be productive, make money, and do a lot with a little, and I’m sure these formulas work for a lot of people, but the only thing I’ve done that works for me is to keep working, even if it’s at a snail’s pace. What has worked for me is forcing myself to do scary things, keep doing them until they feel normal, and then find new scary things to try.
This is an incomplete list of what has worked for me: Start a blog, start a writing group, co-produce the Listen To Your Mother Show, start a book, submit articles and pitches, attend a blogging conference, keep submitting my work, quit writing a book, keep submitting to new outlets, start another book, get rejected, create a writing retreat, quit writing another book, publish a book I never expected to publish, ask stores to carry my book, speak in public, keep submitting my work, ask my editor if I can write weekly, sign up for a writing retreat, take a writing class, create another writing group, keep submitting, get rejected, keep submitting.
I’m not saying you should create a blog, organize a writing group, co-produce a show, or do anything I did. Maybe you should look at my list and do the opposite. I don’t know what will work for you. I just know what’s working for me. It’s not magic and it hasn’t been quick and it hasn’t been easy. But it’s been slow, steady, and extremely gratifying.
Pam Sinel Moore ’96 lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, two daughters, and five backyard chickens. She tells stories that connect and inspire people through her award-winning writing and speaking. Pam has written for the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and more. She is the author of There’s No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer, a collection of stories chronicling her misadventures on the journey from amateur triathlete to rookie mom. Visit her at pam-moore.com.
This piece was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Lincoln Magazine.