Share this article on Facebook
Dont Tell Me It Cant Be Done!
by Michelle Sussman
When I told my high school counselor that it was
my plan to major in Medieval History in college, I was told it couldnt be
"Theres no such thing as majoring in Medieval
History," she told me. "Why dont you look into being an accountant like your
brother and sister?"
I graduated four years later from a Big Ten
school with a degree in Medieval History.
Last year when I finally got serious about my
freelance writing career, I was worried about balancing my life as an at-home
mom with writing. Everything I read said it couldnt be done. A nanny, regular
babysitter, or grandparent was necessary to success.
I dont like being told "it cant be done," so I
set out to prove them wrong. All it took was a little compromise.
* You cant have it all, but you can have a lot.
It was important to both my husband and I that one of us stay home with our
daughter during the first few years of her life. Since he was an engineer, the
financial responsibility fell to him. But I couldnt imagine not writing, now
that I finally had some time. I only had to realize that quantity wasnt as
important as quality. I budgeted my time and determined exactly how many
articles I could balance at one time and stuck to my guns.
* Find a specialty. After reading Kelly
James-Engers book "Ready, Aim, Specialize," I focused on markets that
fell within my specialty, pregnancy and parenting, and only submitted to those
markets. Its not that I dont have ideas for other markets, but those markets
were easiest to crack, I have tons of contacts for anecdotes, and the ideas stem
from everyday life with my daughter.
* Keep an idea file. Even though Im
concentrating on parenting and pregnancy, I do occasionally get ideas for other
topics. For the time being, those go directly into my idea file. If I have a dry
spell with assignments, Ill pull out one and research markets.
* Work around your childs schedule. Since
writing was a joy to me, unlike the daily burden of housework, I looked forward
to writing while my daughter napped. Even outings provided opportunities for
working. My local library not only has a ton of magazines for my research, but I
was able to study them while my daughter played with puzzles or other children
in a safe, controlled environment.
* Be flexible. Anyone who has a child will tell
you that the minute they seem to be on a schedule, something changes. When she
dropped her last nap last winter, I panicked. The great majority of my telephone
interviews took place while she was peacefully sleeping and I felt shafted.
After talking to other parents, I discovered something call "Quiet Time." While
she was no longer sleeping, my daughter delighted in playing with her toys in
her room for an hour each afternoon and I was able to resume my
* Work nights and weekends. While working late
at night or on the weekends isnt something I enjoy, if I have a deadline
looming, I will work while my husbands home to entertain our daughter or after
shes gone to bed. But, that leads back to my first tip. If I keep my workload
manageable, I can avoid working odd hours.
One year and eight published articles later
(three articles for national markets and five for local magazines), Ive
developed a great relationship with Chicago Parent and gotten my foot
in the door with more national magazines. My daughters schedule changes once
again this fall as she heads to preschool, giving me even larger blocks of time
to write. Im proud because once again, someone told me I couldnt do it, and I
© Copyright 2005, Michelle Sussman
Check out the latest articles in
How to Promote Your Book BLOG
Find out what works.
Join the Writing for DOLLARS! group on Facebook.
Writing for DOLLARS!
is a publication of