For Solo Moms, Writing Can Be a Lifeline

For Solo Moms, Writing Can Be a Lifeline

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Five reasons why you should honor your desire to write

From the first time I turned the key on my pink, daisy-covered diary, I wanted to be a writer. I survived the grind of grad school and became a sociology professor but still harbored a deep wish to write creatively. Friends would ask, “Write what?” I didn’t know. Reeling from an impending divorce, I decided to take a risk and enroll in a short-story writing class at my university. I wasn’t a natural, but I was prolific. My dedicated instructor read reams of confessional pages disguised as a “fictional” story about a couple on the brink of divorce. With lawyers, mediators, and counselors tromping around my personal business and feeding my already pronounced anxiety and guilt, writing was exactly what I needed.

Postdivorce, I joined a writing group, got a couple of short stories published, and took incredible satisfaction from developing this part of my identity. Writing became a refuge, a stress reliever, and an identity that was separate from my identity as a single mom.

As the founder of ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere), I know all too well that single moms struggle under the enormous responsibility of parenting alone. Every day, our well-being is challenged by the pressures that rob us of sanity, identity, and community. I’ve found that writing can give all that back, and more.

Here are five reasons why Solo Moms should honor their desire to write:

1. Feel judged and criticized for your single parenting? Write it out, and you will feel better. Create a story where that haughty neighbor or condescending teacher suffers a humiliating defeat. It’ll feel good!

2. Have some of your friends turned away after you became solo? Take a writing class, or join or start your own writing group. You will make immediate connections with people who are equally as open and vulnerable. There is nothing as revealing and affirming as sharing your writing.

3. Coping with a demanding boss, whiny kids, and an ex who’s a jerk? Immerse yourself in another world. My characters surprise and delight me, and they take me far away from my current reality. I always feel calmer and more centered after a writing session.

4. Do you spend all your time working and attending to your children’s needs? Dive into your own creativity, and find some “me time” on the written page. Explore and discover parts of your personality that are decidedly not just “Mom.” You may be surprised at the dynamic, exciting, and beguiling parts of your personality that emerge.

5. Beleaguered by the challenges that the world throws at you? When those impossible moments hit, throw yourself into your writing. Work through the really hard stuff. I was almost crushed by the financial and social challenges of parenting alone. Writing gave me a wonderful outlet and ultimately connected me to an amazing support group.

By offering community, identity, and sanity, writing saved me when I needed it most. To this day, I can feel the glow and value of allowing my emotions to create something that’s all mine. So, seize those rare moments when you can sit down and give yourself the gift of writing. Keep at it, and, who knows: one day you may be the next J.K. Rowling or Toni Morrison—both Solo Moms!

Check out our Showcase Writing section for inspiration and practical advice from other Solo Mom writers. If you care to share your work with ESME, we’d love to see it. You could even earn some money by submitting a winning poem, short story, or nonfiction essay. See our award details below, and get writing!

Our second annual writing contest is open to all Solo Moms—women who parent on their own due to choice or circumstance. Prizes of $500, $350, and $150 will be given to the first-, second-, and third-place winners, respectively, in three categories: poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction essay. There is no entry fee, and the deadline is October 1, 2017. All submissions also will be considered for publication on the ESME website. For complete guidelines, see our Showcase Awards page. Good luck!

Dr. Marika Lindholm founded to ignite a social movement of Solo Moms. A trained sociologist, Marika taught courses on inequality, diversity, and gender at Northwestern University for over a decade. After a divorce left her parenting two children on her own, she realized Solo Moms lacked much-needed resources, support, and connection. She built her social platform, Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere, out of this combination of academic and personal experience. Marika is also the coeditor of We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor, a frank, funny, and unflinchingly honest anthology—written by 75 Solo Mom writers, including Amy Poehler, Anne Lamott, and Elizabeth Alexander—that celebrates Solo Moms: their tenacity, courage, and fierce love for their children. Marika can be reached at

Please feel free to CONTACT US with any comments or questions.

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