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The Gifts of Being a Writing Parent

By Dawn Colclasure

You have a deadline. Your work is due within hours, your contact keeps giving you the runaround and your e-mail account suddenly crashes. You're ready to dive out the window of a highrise because you're this close to losing your next paycheck. Suddenly, a tiny pair of arms circles around you and a cherubic smile appears. A small voice peeps out from underneath you, saying, "I love you."

This scenario is just one of those moments you can count on when your day as a working writer gets chaotic. Because not only are you a working writer, but you are also a working writer parent. You have one or more children there to remind you how much your being a writer is important, how it can help you to keep the bill collectors away and how you will always have someone there to say "I love you right after an editor has said "I hate you." And the former statement will always erase the latter.

As a writing parent, you can count on going through many ups and downs. You can count on constantly being interrupted, faced with little time to write or having to learn how to type with one hand while you tend to a child with the other. But what you can also count on are the gifts which being a writing parent offers: You have the gift of never-ending support, instant feedback, a source of inspiration and ideas, and a shoulder to lean on for those days when nothing seems to be going right.

Being a writing parent is a blessing. It's one of those very rare moments of your life where you absolutely must plan your workdays better, use the power of brevity when faced with scarce writing time, and where you learn the art of prioritizing your work. You are also in a position where you can write from the unique angle of a parent. Who else can better understand the labors of insufficient sleep, potty training or seeing your child off on their first day of school? You. Even better, you, the writer. Because now you are able to write about these experiences in a way that almost makes you an expert on the subject. You are an expert, because you've been there.

There won't be any other time in your life where you can write about a child's first step, the intrigue of a lightning storm, how to fight monsters in a closet or how to talk to your child about drugs, sex and violence. Children grow up and we, the writing parents, are there to experience every single moment of it. We are there to relive our first crush, our first date and graduation from high school. We are there to live through it and write all about it.

And that, above all else, is perhaps the greatest gift of all: The gift of forever.

About The Author

Dawn Colclasure, who also writes as Dana Mitchells, edits and publishes the Burning the Midnight Oil Book Zine, which is a product of her book: BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How we Survive as Writing Parents (, Inc., She is also a contributing writer to the newspaper SIGNews and a staff writer for the Web site, The Shadowlands. She's been published both on and off the Web, in magazines such as Mothering and American Fitness, and Web sites such as Absolute Write, Writing Etc. and Writing World. Visit her on the Web at


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